Tinsels. Baubles. Pine boughs. Fairy lights. Nothing like holiday decorations to banish that Scrooge within. Bringing us cheer and whimsy, festooned public spaces have the ability to rouse the inner child and transport us to holiday glee. Wreaths, garland-wrapped trees, gingerbread houses, nutcrackers, twinkling stars, and glittery pine cones join together at these seven hotels to weave that seasonal fantasy of joy, which reminds us how merry and magical life can be.
The Charleston Place, Charleston South Carolina
Snow every day? In the Holy City? That’s only a portion of the holiday enchantment brought to you by The Charleston Place, where twice-nightly snowstorms (from November 25 to January 2) cover the holiday trees on Market Street Circle with a blanket of festive delight. Indoors, the elegant hotel has been transformed to a European holiday bazaar, awash in luscious ruby and gold hues, strung with mirrored ornaments, colossal toys, and glimmering stars. The design by local event design company The Drifter took inspiration from an article found in a Charleston newspaper from the early 1900s. Look for more than 100 decorated trees, including one that soars 40 feet high in the center of Market Street Circle. For railroad lovers the coup de gras will be the toy train that chugs along 300 feet of track through the lobby, but cocoa cart pop ups and a teddy bear brand will also delight.
Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Phoenix Arizona
Some might say that seven pools, six dining venues, two championship golf courses, one luxury spa, and Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced architecture infused with Hollywood heyday chic would be enough. But this grand property, set in affable Phoenix amid the glorious desert and its array of anthropomorphic Saguaro cacti, takes holiday décor seriously. In an assemblage inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s ethos of nature in motion, the resort transforms to a veritable “artisanal desert winter wonderland.” Walk among more than a dozen pampas grass trees of various sizes, aglow with frills in the lobby. Linger in the nostalgic living room, a replica of Christmas Past, circa 1930. Outdoors, frolic on the front lawn where blue-and-white-tree mirrors reflect images and themes from the Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass mosaic that rests in the Grand Lobby.
Thompson Dallas, Dallas Texas
At any other time of year, this urbane jewel box in downtown Dallas gets accolades for its prodigious artistic aesthetic: a haven of glossy marble, blue-lacquered walls, teakwood panels, gleaming brass, and mid-century furnishings and artwork. But in December, embracing true everything-is-bigger-in-Texas-style boundlessness, the cultivated hotel amps up its festive ambiance with a ridiculously delightful array of celebratory grandeur. With more than 12 miles of LED lighting, The Thompson hangs more than 17,000 ornaments, erects 35 Christmas trees, utilizes 11 varieties of fresh pine, and uses six tons of custom iron to create bespoke eye-catching trees. Its 55-foot-tall Christmas tree at the building entrance seals the deal.
Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resort Collection, Washington Connecticut
New York City-based interior designer CeCe Barfield brings her much talked about, pattern loving, “if you love it, buy it” design perspective to play at Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resorts Collection, New England’s exemplar hideaway. Fanciful and savvy, Barfield’s holiday decor combines modern touches with Colonial American flourishes, storybook references, and an ode to sophisticated country life. In collaboration with Emily Mathison of McQueens Flowers, Barfield creatively uses natural materials in the installation which flows through the Inn’s exterior and interiors. Sumptuously embellished garlands, wreaths and mantel table pieces — composed of evergreens, dried fruits, antique ribbons, white lights, and colorful glass ornaments — complement an eye-popping 18-foot Christmas tree.
Fairmont San Francisco, San Francisco California
You’ll smell its seductive aroma before you see it. In the spacious lobby of the majestic Fairmont San Francisco, a mind-blowing, two-story gingerbread house beckons. Ornate, design savvy enough to tempt you to consider turning yourself into an elf and moving in, this stupendous cookie sculpture required 375 hours of artistry to construct. The largest cookie abode in California, the edible dwelling is composed of hundreds of pounds of San Francisco’s own See’s Candies — chocolates, confections, and lollipops. Rimmed by trees and Nutcrackers galore, the house stands 22 feet high and stretches 23 feet wide. Gallons of royal icing seal its thousands of gingerbread bricks. Adjacent to the house, children can pen a letter to Santa, while parents sip bubbly from the adjacent Moët Champagne bar.
The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New Orleans Louisiana
And you thought Mardi Gras was festive? Wander into the wonderful world of New Orleans in December, when the vivacious city takes all its year round sparkle and ebullience up a glittery notch — or two. Not only will streetcars, oak trees, and Garden District mansions be adorned with Yuletide finery, but the city’s top hotels outdo themselves with eye-catching seasonal displays. We love the historic Roosevelt, home to the first Sazerac cocktail, where the already glamorous hotel carries on an 80-year tradition of holiday fantasy — with bells on. Spellbinding, the catwalk-style lobby is suffused with the twinkle of 112,000 lights, trimmed with 1,600 feet of garland, and embellished with 4,000 glass ornaments. Don’t’ miss the Cajun-themed gingerbread village, in which alligators replace Santa’s reindeer.
The Colony Hotel, Palm Beach Florida
Designer Aerin Lauder fondly remembers holidays spent with her grandmother, the legendary Estee Lauder, in stunning Palm Beach. She relives those memories and turns them to festive metaphor at the posh beach town’s The Colony Hotel, a classic Palm Beach hideaway, ever iconic with its pink facade. Drawing from her cache of Palm Beach glamor, she brings updated holiday flair to The Colony’s Lobby during Yuletide through her sought after AERIN brand. Planting a luminous Christmas tree in the lobby, Aerin redesigns the lobby space and the tree’s many layers with a seashell and tropical flower theme. To celebrate her partnership with The Colony, Aerin will launch a limited-edition raffia pouch trimmed in Colony Pink.