Christmas Hotels that Bring the WOW to a Festive Holiday Getaway

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Fireworks and palm trees dressed in Christmas lights at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess hotel in Arizona

Nothing says Christmastime quite like a pampered stay in a luxury hotel. The best Christmas hotels include The Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue in New York City, The Roosevelt in New Orleans and the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago.

Our favorite Christmas hotels offer a variety of ways to get you into the holiday spirit, whether you’re in the market for a multi-generational family holiday get-together or a just-for-two romantic Christmas getaway.

These beautiful hotels offer everything from elaborate decorations and Christmas light shows to a wide range of holiday experiences, including Christmas markets, s’mores around a firepit, and, for kids, holiday story time and visits from the North Pole.

Lobby of the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess dressed up for Christmas
The Christmas decorations and gingerbread house are the centerpiece of the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess lobby during the holidays. Photo courtesy of Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Scottsdale Fairmont Princess in Arizona

Ice skating in the Sonoran Desert? Seeing 6.5 million Christmas lights? Visiting Santa? Yes! It’s all part of the Scottsdale Fairmont Princess’ famous “Christmas at the Princess” celebration.

The luxurious Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers all of your holiday must-haves, from festive decorations to an ice skating rink. There’s even snow, but this is Arizona, so the snow will “fall” from machines rather than the sky. Plus, you get the hotel’s famed 5-Diamond AAA service, large rooms, five gorgeous pools (including one with dueling waterslides), a kids’ club in the morning that turns into a family fun center in the afternoon and incredible restaurants with kids’ menus and mocktails.

Even if you can’t get a reservation to stay at this 65-acre resort with its 750 beautifully renovated rooms, you can still enjoy Arizona’s largest Christmas lights display. You can buy tickets to the Scottsdale Christmas event, dubbed “Disney in the Desert.”

Asilomar Resort at Christmas
Asilomar in California offers a beachy luxury experience for Christmas. Photo credit: Michael Troutman/www.dmtimaging.com

Asilomar in California

You likely won’t find snow at the Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California, (the average high in December is 60 degrees), but the Victorian-era hotel still decks the halls. Look for a gigantic California-themed gingerbread house with more than 700 buildings that replicate this historic landmark.

The beachy resort on California’s beautiful Monterey Peninsula was designed by renowned Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan. Accommodation options include cottages and a variety of historic rooms with rustically elegant California-style furnishings, an outdoor heated swimming pool, a meditation space and a BBQ area.

There are plenty of fun things to do in Monterey with kids. During the holidays, the Christmas on the Wharf celebration includes free visits with Santa, holiday entertainment and a 23-foot Christmas tree. You can also stop by the Wharf merchants to purchase hot cocoa, coffee, hot apple cider or fresh holiday cookies to enjoy during your visit!
 
In search of White Christmas Hotels? Consider The Broadmoor Hotel for their holiday traditions.
Looking for a White Christmas? Consider The Broadmoor Hotel for their holiday traditions. Photo Credit: The Broadmoor

The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs

A Christmas at The Broadmoor means millions of twinkling lights, a life-size gingerbread house, Elf Stories and Breakfast with Santa. To get the full holiday feeling, book the Classic Broadmoor Holiday Show package, which includes:

  • Accommodations for one night
  • Tickets for each person on the package to the Classic Broadmoor Holiday dinner show starring singer Debby Boone, Broadway star Marcus Lovett, the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, and Ken Miller and The Broadmoor Pops Orchestra

And you don’t have to stay at the luxury Colorado Springs resort to enjoy the fun from the end of November through February. Buy tickets to individual events online.

Horse at C Lazy U Dude Ranch
Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride at C Lazy U ranch during Christmas. Photo courtesy of C Lazy U

C Lazy U Dude Ranch in Colorado

At the all-inclusive C Lazy U Ranch, a luxury dude ranch in the Rocky Mountains, each individual cabin comes complete with a Christmas tree and everyone is invited to help trim the tree in the Main Lodge, build a gingerbread house or take a sleigh ride. Look for Santa to arrive is a horse-drawn sleigh full of presents. On Christmas Eve, the ranch serves a traditional Christmas dinner, with a turkey for each table in the dining room.

Plus, there’s plenty of outdoor fun in the Colorado snow, including cross-country skiing, horseback riding, snowmobiling, snow tubing, ice skating and pick-up hockey games on the pond. And for a special treat, you can head to the Lazy You Spa for a little pampering. 

The Nutcrackers stand guard for the sweet dreams on Christmas Eve at The Breakers Palm Beach.
The Nutcrackers stand guard for the sweet dreams on Christmas Eve at The Breakers Palm Beach. Photo credit: The Breakers Palm Beach

The Breakers Palm Beach in Florida

If the cold white stuff isn’t your ideal white Christmas, then head to The Breakers Palm Beach for some warmer white stuff — the white sand beaches of Palm Beach.

Consistently named one of CNN’s “Hotels that Go All Out for Christmas,” this beachfront resort announces its Christmas spirit before you even arrive, with glowing white lights on the 100 royal palms that line the main drive to the hotel. The magic continues with 18-foot evergreen trees and a sculptural menorah in the lobby and more than 170,000 lights and 12,000 feet of ribbon across the 140-acre oceanfront property.

Dining options include a Christmas brunch, proper afternoon tea and prix-fixe holiday lunch and dinner menus.

The resort’s large suites offer families plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the holidays.

A scene from the ICE! presentation of "A Christmas Story" at Gaylord National Resort in Maryland.
The iconic pink bunny suit scene from “A Christmas Story” at ICE! at Gaylord Rockies Resort in Aurora, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Gaylord National

Gaylord Hotels

The luxurious Gaylord resorts go all-in for Christmas with their iconic ICE! celebration. The ice sculptures, carved from 6,700 colorful blocks of ice, and ice slides are kept at a frigid 9 degrees Fahrenheit. But don’t worry, the resorts provide insulated blue parkas to keep everyone warm while they wander through the icy displays.

The entire resort is dressed up with millions of twinkling lights, miles of garland and elaborately themed Christmas trees. There are shows to see, gingerbread houses to make and holiday treats to eat.

You can book a Christmas package deal that includes a stay at the hotel and front-of-the-line and early admission to ICE! Or just buy tickets to see the impressive ice sculptures and soar down the ice slide.

The five Gaylord hotel properties will each feature its own ICE! story:

Read More: How to Make a Hotel Room Feel Right for Christmas

Fairmont San Francisco is one of the Christmas hotels worth traveling for.
The life-sized Gingerbread house at the Fairmont San Francisco. Photo credit: Fairmont Hotel

Fairmont Hotel San Francisco in California

Christmas at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco is not only first among California holiday legends; it’s legendary among Christmas hotel destinations. That’s no surprise since the luxury hotel has been going all-out for the holidays for more than a century.

For the holidays, the Fairmont San Francisco transforms its grand lobby into Christmas Central with a life-sized gingerbread house. This house is 22 feet tall and 23 feet wide! For a super fun special treat, children can stay in one of the two Santa Suites. The suites are the specially decorated “home” of Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Fairmont when they’re in California.

To round out the experience, you can choose from the Gingerbread Holiday afternoon tea or a special private dining experience inside the Gingerbread House.

Gingerbread display at the Annual National Gingerbread House Competition at the Omni Grove Park Inn, one of the top Christmas hotels in the US
The attention to detail on the entries in the Omni Grove Park Inn gingerbread house competition is unreal. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Omni Grove Park Inn in North Carolina

The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, is home to the Annual National Gingerbread House Competition. This is the 31st annual competition that brings the WOW to this Christmas hotel. Gingerbread artists compete for more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.

The incredible gingerbread houses will be on display from November 27, 2023, through January 2, 2024. Viewing on Friday and Saturday is only open to guests staying at the hotel and those with dining reservations. But everyone can visit after 6 p.m. on Sundays or anytime Monday through Thursday, based on parking availability and excluding the following dates: December 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 and January 1.

Read More: 12 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Western North Carolina

Lounge fireplace decorated for Christmas at the Inn on Biltmore Estate, one of the top Christmas hotels in the US
The lounge at the Inn on Biltmore Estate is a cozy spot for a cocoa or a cocktail. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

The Inn on Biltmore Estate

There’s a reason Hallmark decided to feature this estate property in its 2023 holiday film, A Biltmore Christmas. It feels like every inch of the buildings and grounds is festooned with ribbons, lights, garland and ornaments. It’s elegant, graceful and refined and an ideal place to celebrate the season.

The Inn on Biltmore Estate is one of three lodging options on the grounds. Rooms are luxurious and the services include personal touches like nightly turndown with pillow chocolates. Guests at the Inn enjoy complimentary shuttle service to the mansion for the holiday tours and to other stops around the 8,000-acre property.

Grand poinsettia display in the Conservatory on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate in western North Carolina, a great place to celebrate the holiday season
Poinsettia display in the Biltmore Conservatory, ideal for a photo backdrop. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

SheBuysTravel Tip: Although the famous Biltmore gardens are dull in December, the Conservatory is worth a visit. It’s full of glorious poinsettias and other festive tropical plants.

Hyatt Lost Pines Resort in Texas is a lovely Christmas hotel.
Photo credit: Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort

Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Texas

Another warm weather holiday destination is Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa, east of Austin, one of our favorite central Texas resorts. Here, you can celebrate Christmas like a Texan, with plenty of outdoor activities like swimming in the lazy river. The outdoor water park is open in December, even as the resort trees are sprinkled with oversized decorations and twinkling lights.

You won’t see snow at this Holiday Light Stroll, but you will see 150 LED flood lights, more than 3,000 twinkling holiday lights, and a 20-foot animated holiday tree. Lost Pines offers activities with a Texas twist. Santa often greets guests from atop a Texas Longhorn and the resort’s resident pig, pygmy goats and alpacas like to parade around in their holiday finest.

Kids can find Santa and Mrs. Claus in the hotel lobby every Friday and Saturday and have breakfast with Santa on Sunday mornings. At this resort on the banks of the Colorado River, kids and teens get off their screens and fill their days with good, old-fashioned family fun. That sounds like a perfect Christmas vacation to me.

Four Seasons Vail is one option for a Christmas hotel for families.
With such a luxurious hot chocolate from The Four Seasons Vail, your family may never want to leave. Photo credit: Four Seasons Vail

Four Seasons Vail in Colorado

For the family that loves snow, there’s no better place to experience a winter wonderland than in the Rockies at the Four Seasons Resorts and Residences Vail in Colorado.

The holidays here include the lighting of the Menorah nightly at 6pm and Christmas mass on Christmas Eve. You can have a fully decorated Christmas tree delivered to your residence, have hot chocolate and s’mores by the pool, buy gifts at the spa and have them wrapped by pros, with the proceeds going to charity. Kids can visit with Santa and search for the Elf on the Shelf.

And, of course, there’s skiing and snow sports and more holiday events in the town of Vail.

Accommodations at the Four Seasons Vail range from standard hotel rooms to four-bedroom resort residences.

How to Choose the Right Christmas Hotel

Traveling on Christmas Day to stay in a luxury resort is a great way to create a new holiday tradition in style. There are certain criteria required for a holiday hotel stay, however:

  • A variety of activities. We want to make sure there’s something for everyone to do, from the most active to the most relaxed members of our family. My tween son is all about adventure and outdoors. My mother is looking forward to sitting by the fire.
  • A central shared experience. As much as we like splitting up, we want to create a holiday memory with one central experience. That could mean strolling together to look at Christmas lights, working together to build a gingerbread house or singing together with a group caroling. It doesn’t really matter what we do, so long as we do it together.
  • A Christmas WOW moment. Traveling for Christmas demands that we be wowed by Christmas hotels. Over-the-top holiday decorations, Elf on the Shelf, Santa Claus, we want it all!

Read More: 4 Tips for Traveling with Elf on the Shelf

How to Celebrate Christmas Away from Home

With all the places to go, there’s always a concern about how to actually celebrate with presents. Do you ship them in advance or pack them in a suitcase and hope TSA doesn’t open them? How far in advance do you go? Is Christmas Eve too late and you might end up with a delayed flight or bad weather? Do you stay to ring in the new year?

The best advice I can give is plan in advance (like now) and look at every situation. I have fond memories of my grandmother flying in to see us on Christmas day. She would do Christmas morning in Minnesota with my cousins and then the afternoon in California with our family. It felt like a special delivery.

However you choose or wherever you go, let me be the first to tell you Merry Christmas! (I know it’s early but I’m in the spirit!)

Kendra Pierson Avatar
Kendra Pierson has been the family-designated travel researcher since she was 16 and now shares that title with her husband and two boys. As a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), she used to spend 50% of her time planning meetings for clients around the US and was lucky enough to bring her boys along for most of that ride. She is a pro at maximizing travel to include business and personal, most often including a long weekend. When she’s not traveling, she’s homeschooling her sons as they explore the Atlanta area and can be found blogging at KendraPierson – Love. Learn.Travel..
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