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Whether you’re taking the whole family away this holiday season, or cozying up with your partner for a quiet, romantic December, seeking out a hotel with some festive charm is essential. The beauty of spending the holidays at a luxury hotel is you can indulge in as much or as little holiday pandemonium as you’d like. The kids might be eagerly awaiting a ride on the Christmas carousel, while you’re keen on hanging back to enjoy the season of fireside Champagne. Wherever you fall on the holiday cheer scale, for free-flowing holiday cocktails and winter wonderland magic, celebrate the season at one of these 11 luxury hotels.
Chesterfield Palm Beach, Florida
Chesterfield Palm Beach, right off the bustling Worth Avenue and steps from some of Florida's best beaches, curates an atmosphere of old Hollywood glamour. Christmas decorations are just the tip of the festive iceberg here, with English-inspired afternoon teas during the holiday season, and specialty meals served on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day (think: butternut squash soup, grilled Australian lamb chops, and every holiday delicacy imaginable). For the family who loves the beach, a fun-loving atmosphere, and holiday-themed cocktails (the Leopard Bar is serving up winter wonderland martinis and holiday spritzes), a Chesterfield Palm Beach escape this December might be just the ticket.
Inn on Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina
Staying at the Inn on Biltmore Estate is as close to staying at the actual North Pole as you’ll get while in the 48 contiguous states. The amount of cheer—let alone the sheer magnitude of holly, lights, ornaments, and Christmas decorations—at the Inn on Biltmore Estate is unprecedented. That’s thanks in large part to the iconic, 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate, which hosts a lavish display of seasonal decorations, including more than 100 Christmas trees, each December. The hotel itself exemplifies Vanderbilt-esque luxury, with the suites each featuring grandiose, historic furniture and enormous windows overlooking the lit-up estate and serene countryside. Many of the multi-room suites—each named after a friend or relative of George Vanderbilt—also come with kitchens and private outdoor spaces.
The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue
The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, always goes big for the holiday season, working with coveted designers to produce an over-the-top holiday atmosphere. And this year is no exception; The Langham partnered with American Christmas to create an original pink Christmas tree, accented with gold, silver, and pale pink ornaments. Their roof will also host reindeer sculptures this year, for the first time. If a luxe Christmas in New York City is your idea of the perfect holiday celebration, the artistry and design at The Langham will blow you away. Treat yourself and your family to an Empire State Building-facing suite; there are junior and one-bedroom Empire State suites, as well as presidential and penthouse suites. The Langham even offers Festive Suites for the holidays, wherein the staff adorns your suite with customized decorations before your family arrives.
Montage Laguna Beach, California
All the Montage Hotels & Resorts properties put on a holiday spectacle. At the picturesque Southern California retreat, Montage Laguna Beach, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, festivities will run from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. Thanksgiving kicks off with a four-course tasting menu at The Loft, while December brings gingerbread decorating, caroling in the lobby, and multiple Christmas Day feasts. The extravagant celebration at Montage Laguna Beach runs right into 2021, with Veuve Clicquot and a 10-course tasting menu at The Loft on New Year’s Eve. Book one of the four on-property villas for the holidays, each with two gas fireplaces and private patios overlooking the ocean.
Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, Paradise Valley, Arizona
In the aptly named Paradise Valley, just outside Scottsdale, Arizona, lies Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property. Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain proves two important holiday truths; that you can have a stress-free holiday vacation, and that, contrary to popular belief, Christmas decorations juxtaposed against desert backdrops work quite well from a design perspective. Beyond the festive decor, Christmas Day brings a four-course dinner highlighting Duck à l'Orange to the resort, and guests staying through the All Is Calm offer—bringing peace and serenity to your holiday season—can use their $25 daily resort credits toward spa treatments and extravagant meals. If you’re traveling with the whole family, book one of the hotel’s eight, newly renovated villas, outfitted with amenities like private pools, game rooms, and sprawling terraces.
The Breakers Palm Beach, Florida
At The Breakers Palm Beach, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, once the gourd-filled fall décor pieces are packed up, they’ll be replaced with Christmas decorations and lights lining The Breakers’ grand hall. You get the best of both worlds at The Breakers: lavish holiday decorations coupled with blue skies, perfect weather, and pristine beaches. In the days leading up to the holidays, let the kids choose their own adventure; The Breakers has childcare for the little ones and offers teen activities, like snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking, as well as golf clinics and guided bike rides for the whole family.
The Wayfinder Hotel, Newport, Rhode Island
The newest boutique hotel in Newport, Rhode Island, The Wayfinder, has all the holiday decorations this year, including pre-stuff stockings, hot cocoa and hot toddies by the lobby fireplace, and in-suite holiday classics on demand. The Wayfinder is a Newport creatives’ enclave, perfect for the couple looking for a healthy dose of holiday cheer, as well as some eclectic Rhode Island culture. And speaking of Rhode Island culture with a holiday twist, after a few nights at The Wayfinder Hotel, spend a weekend at Preserve Sporting Club & Residences to visit Maker’s Mark’s seasonal Hobbit House activation, which features an “upscale grilled menu and fine bourbon pairings” served in a wintery, storybook setting.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston loves a seasonal celebration, and in December, the Holy City comes alive with majestic wreaths, Palmetto trees adorned with lights, and Christmas decorations brightening the facades of historic buildings. Belmond Charleston Place, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, makes for a perfect holiday escape, with equal parts Southern history and charm. Work with the staff to arrange a private horse-drawn carriage around Charleston to celebrate the season, and spend the days leading up to the holidays sipping Champagne by the rooftop infinity pool. For a Christmas-themed day with your family, attend the Charleston’s Holiday Parade of Boats or take a candlelight tour of the 19th-century Nathaniel Russel House, before retreating to one of the hotel’s 72 club-level suites.
Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resorts Collection, Washington, Connecticut
Drive two hours from New York City, and you'll be enveloped in the festive air surrounding Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resorts Collection, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property. The staff at Mayflower will prepare a traditional hamper of homemade Christmas treats (think: sugar cookies, mince pies, and English toffee) for guests. And while enjoying the sweets and decorations, guests who can't resist a good Instagram photo must visit the Festive Shoppe at on-site Huntress Boutique. While the atmosphere, the baked goods, and the extravagant suites at Mayflower make for an exceptional holiday experience, the pièce de résistance comes on Christmas Eve, when they serve mulled wine and mince pies in the Tap Room while awaiting Father Christmas.
Dunton Hot Springs, Dolores, Colorado
Dunton Hot Springs, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, is nestled in the San Juan Mountains, about 90 minutes from Telluride. The Relais & Châteaux property is an exquisite winter wonderland all season long, but their winter programming sets the idyllic resort apart. From languishing in the steamy 19th-century bathhouse to snowshoeing in full view of the mountains, the mining-turned-resort town is a memorable family destination. For a Christmas-themed après-ski activity, you can even treat your family to a sleigh ride around Dunton. Families can rent the Potter House at Dunton Hot Springs for the holidays, while couples might opt for the Well House, with a private hot spring and cold plunge pool.
Gaylord Texan Resort, Grapevine, Texas
Christmas at Gaylord Hotels is celebrated at each of their four properties, from Gaylord Opryland in Nashville to Gaylord Rockies in Colorado. This year, Gaylord Texan Resort, along Lake Grapevine, will debut Yuletide Bright, their new 80,000-square-foot outdoor lights activation. Guests can also get their fill of winter activities at Gaylord Texan’s outdoor skating rink and snow tubing hill (made with real snow), while kids ride the Christmas carousel. While you’ll want to leave ample time to unwind in your suite, for a little healthy, pre-Christmas competition, take the family to Gaylord’s on-property holiday Escape Rooms.