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Twinkling lights, glitter, Champagne and petit fours. It’s time to treat yourself to some holiday cheer.
Luxury hotels serve up a glamorous way to brighten up the festive season, whether for an overnight stay or an elegant afternoon tea.
These hotels are worth a closer look for a few hours of sipping tea and admiring Christmas decorations or for a spur of the moment escape or a future holiday splurge.
The Greenbrier: White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Natural mineral springs have drawn guests to The Greenbrier for more than two centuries, and the historic hotel that opened in 1913 has welcomed many US presidents.
Letters to Santa, an ugly sweater dinner, a fun run and a cookie decorating workshop are all part of The Greenbrier’s lineup in the days surrounding December 25.
On Christmas Eve, there’s a Snowman Ball ($125 per adult; $55 per child) followed by a musical program in the resort’s chapel. On Christmas Day, board games, Bingo and a scavenger hunt will keep families entertained.
Rates start at $609.
The Greenbrier, 101 Main Street, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
The Fife Arms: Braemar, Scotland
Fishing, foraging and hiking are just outside at The Fife Arms, an antiques-packed, 19th-century retreat within Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands.
The hotel is 14.5 kilometers (nine miles) from Balmoral, the Royal Family’s residence in Scotland.
For winter guests, there’s a seasonal alpine fondue hut with a cozy fireplace. On the menu, a traditional Swiss option of molten cheese is joined by a Scottish take on the rich classic – a blend of two local cheeses and a local pale ale.
Rooms start at about $500 in late December. There’s also a special Christmas package, subject to availability.
The Fife Arms, Braemar, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Ojai Valley Inn: Ojai, California
“Serenity Season” is right on time at the Ojai Valley Inn, where spa treatments, golf, tennis, yoga and more can be incorporated into a restorative stay at this 220-acre coastal valley resort.
On December 24, there’s a Jingle Bell Jaunt and story time with Santa’s elves. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner will be served at both Olivella and The Oak, and there’s a grand buffet on Christmas Day at The Farmhouse ($175 per adult, including wine; $60 for children 12 and younger).
December room rates start at $649 per night.
Ojai Valley Inn, Ojai, California
The Plaza: New York
Tea time and Christmastime coincide at The Plaza’s elegant Palm Court, where three holiday tea menus will be available through December 31.
The Manhattan Tea ($118) features savories and sweets, including a potato tart with beet, mushroom and goat cheese and a Manjari chocolate orange bûche.
Eloise, the hotel’s famous fictional resident, lends her name to a children’s tea available for $85 per child.
There’s a Christmas Day buffet ($275 for adults). And for New Year’s Eve, a truly lavish gala offering comes with a price tag to match: $975 per person.
The Plaza has availability for December and around Christmas, with a starting rate of $1,395 per night.
The Plaza, Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, New York
Anantara Golden Triangle: Chiang Rai, Thailand
As far as memorable holiday experiences go, it’s hard to beat sleeping in a clear bubble with elephants roaming right outside.
It’s possible at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province. The resort’s two-bedroom Jungle Bubble Lodge is transformed into snow globes for the holidays. Starlit skies and gentle giants add another layer to the magic.
The resort has a selection of more traditional luxury rooms, and guests can learn more about the beloved residents at Elephant Camp.
“A Gift of Mother Nature” Christmas brunch will showcase fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Rooms start at about $1,660, including meals, airport transfers and some activities.
Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, Wiang, Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess: Scottsdale, Arizona
A sledding mountain, a skating trail and a chairlift with 26 gondolas are just part of the annual Christmas at the Princess festival. Add six million lights, a train and more: It’s safe to say Fairmont Scottsdale Princess doesn’t believe in holding back for the holidays.
The festival, which runs through January 2, is open to the public. Free for hotel guests, the entrance/parking fee for up to four nonhotel guests is $72 for self-parking.
Rooms start at $599. There’s also a holiday package available.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, 7575 East Princess Drive, Scottsdale, Arizona
Rock House: Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
There’s certainly a lot to be said for a warm-weather Christmas that involves lounging poolside with a cocktail.
The new luxury resort Rock House on the island of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos offers panoramic views of all the fireworks shows during the holiday season.
Some of the resort’s dwellings have private pools. On Christmas Eve, a family-style Italian meal will be served on the jetty for $140 per adult and $50 per child.
On Christmas Day, a four-course meal at Vita restaurant and the main pool ($275 for adults, $50 per child) will be accompanied with carols from a local gospel choir.
Christmas week rates start at $910 a night.
Rock House, Blue Mountain Road, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
Hôtel de Crillon: Paris
Historic Hôtel de Crillon delivers a next-level Parisian holiday.
A seven-course Christmas Eve menu at L’Écrin starts at close to $600 with wine pairings available for $250. Afternoon tea in the Jardin d’Hiver runs a less stratospheric $90ish, including a glass of Champagne. From December 12, pastry chef Matthieu Carlin will add a festive twist to the traditional afternoon tea service.
The five-star property, originally built in 1758 under the direction of King Louis XV, overlooks Paris’ Place de la Concorde.
Over Christmas weekend, rooms start at about $2,250.
Hôtel de Crillon, 10 place de la Concorde, Paris
Willard InterContinental: Washington
In the United States capital, the Willard InterContinental will host free performances by local choral and vocal ensembles in the lobby from 5:30 to 7:30 nightly from December 1 through December 23.
Signature hot chocolate-inspired cocktails – the hot cocoa-nut and the choco pico – will be available in the famed Round Robin Bar
Holiday afternoon tea – with finger sandwiches and pastries – will be served every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from December 2 through December 30 ($112 per person or $125 with a glass of champagne).
Room rates in December start at $329.
Willard InterContinental, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC
Four Seasons: Hampshire and London, England
An hour from central London, Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire serves up a sophisticated country Christmas in an 18th-century manor on 500 acres of rolling meadows.
An equestrian center and other outdoor offerings will ensure a hearty appetite for holiday meals at Wild Carrot or afternoon tea in The Library.
Hotel Hampshire rates during the Christmas season start at about $865, with breakfast included.
For a sparkling city Christmas, guests at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane will find a snow-globe installation in the lobby, the option to decorate their own Christmas trees and a Christmas Day à la carte menu. Room rates over the holidays start at about $1,300.
Madeline Hotel & Residences: Telluride, Colorado
With 14,000-foot peaks as your backdrop, why not have a ski and spa Christmas?
Madeline Hotel & Residences in Telluride boasts luxurious ski-in/ski-out accommodation, with a spa that offers treatments such as Alpine Muscle Relief and Tranquil Recovery for your after-ski rejuvenation.
There’s a Christmas Eve dinner at Black Iron Kitchen + Bar, featuring juniper-glazed Cornish game hen or herb-crusted Colorado lamb leg, for $145 for adults, $65 per child.
In December, the resort is hosting Alpenglow, an immersive multimedia art installation. There’s also a pop-up holiday market on Thursday and Friday afternoons, December 15 and 16 and December 22 and 23.
The starting rate is $949.
Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection, Mountain Village Blvd. Telluride, Colorado
Royal Mansour: Marrakech, Morocco
The holidays are a gourmet affair at the Royal Mansour in Marrakech.
The property’s restaurants will feature special menus for Christmas and New Year’s Eve from Michelin-star chefs.
A Moroccan take on the traditional French bûche de Noël from pastry chef Jean Lachenal features a crunchy sesame seed base with a chocolate mousse and sesame cream as part of the sweet creation.
The hotel will host a Christmas market in its lobby on December 17 with handmade crafts, Christmas sweets and gift items for sale, with proceeds going to local charities.
Hotel rates start at about $1,420 per night.
Royal Mansour, Rue Abou El Abbas Sebti, Marrakech, Morocco
The Breakers: Palm Beach, Florida
Founded by Standard Oil Co. magnate Henry Morrison Flagler in 1896, The Breakers Palm Beach carries its lovely traditions right through the holiday season.
The oceanfront Italian Renaissance-style resort dazzles with sparkling lights, and holiday tea is available at HMF on December 22-24 and December 26-30 for $115 per person.
The hotel’s Ponce de Leon ballroom will host a buffet on Christmas Day that includes rack of lamb, caviar and sushi rolls ($250 per person; $95 for children 12 and younger).
There’s limited room availability in December with rates starting at $1,125.
The Breakers, One South County Road, Palm Beach, Florida
The Ritz Paris is putting on exactly what you’d expect from the elegant luxury property.
Christmas Tea is available at Bar Vendôme and Salon Proust, starting at about $70 per person with a hot beverage or about $90 with a glass of Champagne.
The Salon d’Eté will serve a lavish holiday brunch on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day for about $260 per person.
Rates around Christmas start at about $1,960 per night.
Ritz Paris, 15 place Vendôme, Paris, France
A version of this story has been published in years past. This version has been updated with 2022 holiday programs and pricing as well as new hotel entries.