Decking the halls, trimming the tree, and baking cookies for Santa at home surrounded by loved ones is wonderful. But it’s also really nice to leave the decorating — as well as cooking, cleaning, and entertaining — to the professionals. The stats back up that sentiment. According to a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 47% of Americans plan to travel during the holiday season. And Kayak data reveals many people are even eyeing a trip abroad instead of staying local this year. Because smooching underneath the mistletoe, singing along to Mariah Carey while watching the snow fall out the window, and cozying up in front of a roaring fire is somehow so much more magical — and stress-free — when it goes down at a five-star hotel that’s dressed up with twinkling lights, tinsel, and decorations (and there’s always someone around to top off your eggnog).
Want to dial up the holiday spirit and have a super enjoyable, totally well-deserved winter vacation? Reserve a room at these spare-no-expense festive properties, from Park City to Paris. Now for a Christmas miracle: it’s not too late to book.
Gstaad Palace: Gstaad, Switzerland
Gstaad Palace is a real-life snow globe in the Swiss Alps that embodies the true magic and whimsy of Christmas. This glamorous alpine retreat has fir garland-draped fireplaces, twinkling lights, a glimmering tree in the lobby, and frosted grounds. Imagine frolicking with St. Bernards after a day of downhill skiing or tobogganing and then snuggling up to watch A Christmas Story by the crackling fire with a cup of marshmallow-topped hot cocoa and sugar cookies that you decorated. It’s all part of the yuletide fairytale.
Hôtel Plaza Athénée: Paris, France
No other hotel in Paris puts on a show-stopping holiday spectacular quite like the prestigious Hôtel Plaza Athénée on Rue Montague. Red awnings, sparkling lights, and garlands set the stage for a joyous stay. During the month of December, guests can satisfy their sweet tooth with a larger-than-life Yule log, take a spin around the ice skating rink at the La Cour Jardin, and warm up with an alpine-inspired fondue dinner. Superb views of the Eiffel Tower are just icing on the cake, err bûche de Noël.
InterContinental The Willard Washington D.C.: Washington, D.C.
If the walls at InterContinental The Willard Washington D.C. could talk they would tell tales of the political elite and well-heeled travelers standing around the show-stopping lobby Christmas tree that’s decorated with gold and red baubles, ribbons, lights, and hundreds of official White House ornaments, singing along with the choir in the evenings, and sipping festive cocktails at the Round Robin Bar. The holiday-themed afternoon tea in Peacock Alley flaunts seasonally inspired sweets and the musical stylings of a harpist is another celebrated tradition.
Cliveden House: Berkshire, United Kingdom
Cliveden House brings joy to the world — or, at the very least, to folks fortunate enough to visit this quaint corner of the United Kingdom during the holidays. Built in 1666 by the Duke of Buckingham, this opulent mansion hotel has a long history of lavish soirees. The tradition of throwing fabulous fêtes continues with extravagant champagne receptions and multi-day Christmas parties. Though, the twinkling lights, trimmed tree in the grand lobby, and wreaths alone are surely enough to put anyone in a festive mood.
Adare Manor: County Limerick, Ireland
Situated in County Limerick, Adare Manor gives off Hallmark movie vibes during the holidays. Families and friends reunite at this fairytale Irish castle each December to create treasured memories. The theme of this year’s ornate festivities? Gingerbread! That means decadent dessert trolleys and spiced cookie displays in addition to the grand tree, jubilant decorations, and carriage rides around the snowy grounds. On Christmas Eve, guests sip Champagne, eat canapés, and wait for the man of the hour — jolly old St. Nick — to make an appearance in the Great Hall.
Grand Hyatt Tokyo: Tokyo, Japan
Keep calm and jingle all the way to Japan’s capital. Grand Hyatt Tokyo is so merry and bright during the holidays it outshines all the other five-star hotels in the city. This year, it’s all about spreading love and kindness. On top of the gorgeously gilded trees, pink ribbons, hanging lights, disco balls, and silver reindeer in the Instagrammable lobby, you’ll also find donation boxes and charity ornaments that reflect the spirit of the giving season. The yuletide afternoon tea buffet brims with sweet and savory items, from fruit cake to tarte flambée.
Congress Hall: Cape May, New Jersey
People who love Christmas know Congress Hall. America's oldest seaside resort pulls out all the stops for the holidays. The season transforms the property into a winter wonderland complete with elaborate decorations, train rides, ornament making, decorating gingerbread houses, and a nostalgic carousel. As if all that merriment wasn’t enough, there’s also a vendor village that features shopping stalls, food tents, and a sweets station. Hot cocoa and jumbo chocolate chip cookie? Even Scrooge couldn’t say no to that.
The Dolder Grand: Zürich, Switzerland
Set on the edge of snow-dusted Adlisberg forest, overlooking the storybook city of Zurich, The Dolder Grand is one of the most famous and festive hotels in all of Switzerland. The star of this year’s jubilant show? A colorful life-size advent calendar designed by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen. In the Steinhalle, a towering 16-foot-tall tree decked out in 5,500 ornaments and 12,000 LED lights shines oh so bright. Winter dreams come true while savoring fondue and sipping bubbly in the cozy comfort of your private, lake-view cabinet aka the Krug Chalet pop-up.
Rosewood Hotel Georgia: Vancouver, Canada
If Santa and Mrs. Claus were planning a trip to Vancouver, rest assured they’d stay at Rosewood Hotel Georgia. That’s because holidays are the most wonderful time of the year at this Georgian Revival landmark. The grand lobby gets done up in such a merry way — multiple Christmas trees, festive florals, garlands, gilded ornaments, and lights — that you might think elves had a hand in it. The heated winter terrace pop-up on the rooftop delights with crystal chandeliers, glistening snowflakes, greenery, and seasonal cocktails like a Christmas mule served in a red copper cup.
Sheen Falls Lodge: County Kerry, Ireland
The spirit of the season comes alive at Sheen Falls Lodge where Christmas magic and the scent of mulled cider fill the air. It’s a storybook setting to experience Irish yuletide traditions, admire snow-covered scenery, and pretend you’re the lead in the latest Netflix holiday flick. The plaid and sage interiors of the main house and cozy cottages already look like a film set. Once the decorations go up and the flakes begin to fall, it’s on another level entirely. From the five-course Christmas Eve feast to St. Stephen’s Day treasure hunts, the programming is equally festive.
Pendry Park City: Park City, Utah
Pendry Park City opened in Canyon Village last winter, so this year marks the first holiday season. Guests of all ages are in for a whole lot of aprés-ski cheer, dazzling decorations — including trees, garlands, and wreaths embellished with gold ribbons — and festive happenings that rival the North Pole. The whole family will love the cider and snaps station, decorating cookies, crafting ornaments, fireside s’mores, writing letters to Santa, watching classic Christmas movies in the cinema zone, and a Park City twist on the beloved Elf on a Shelf game called Moose on the Loose.
The Roosevelt, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel: New Orleans, Louisiana
It may not be a white Christmas in New Orleans where the chance of snow seems about as likely as Rudolph not stepping in to save the day, however, The Roosevelt, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel still manages to create a winter wonderland atmosphere so enchanting it’s sure to make everyone feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The holiday extravaganza in the lobby is replete with 112,000 lights, 1,600 feet of garland, and 4,000 glass ornaments. While the Sazerac Bar serves seasonal libations such as candy cane cocktails and booze-forward eggnog.