Have you ever fantasized about not having to roast the turkey, clean up the giftwrap and humour your grumpy great uncle over the holidays? Consider making new traditions at these hotels that do Christmas right.
Fogo Island Christmas, Nfld
Guests cross frozen landscapes where caribou roam to reach Newfoundland’s Fogo Island Inn for the Merry Little Outport Christmas package. It’s remote, but worth the trek for the magic that is to come. From December 23 to 28, guests can try traditional pursuits, from knitting stockings by the fire to curling on the ice to carolling with islanders. On Christmas Eve there will be a salt cod supper and on Christmas morning, a Caesar bar with breakfast, in advance of the big feast. On Boxing Day, guests can join islanders for “Mummering”—a Newfoundland tradition of donning a disguise, visiting neighbours and playing pranks.
Fairmont Banff Springs, Alta
In December, Canada’s fairytale castle in the Rockies, Fairmont Banff Springs, becomes a hub of Christmas activity. Santa comes by every Saturday and Sunday for brunch and photo ops; kids gather to write him letters by the fire; and the whole family revels in wilderness walks, skiing and heritage castle tours. For creative types, there’s the chance to decorate a gingerbread house or make Christmas cookies, and every night kids can bring a blanket and cosy up for bedtime stories. On Christmas Day, guests gather round the bonfire and whet their appetite with s’mores—saving room for a festive dinner buffet in the castle.
Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix, Que
On the edge of the St Lawrence River, on a meteor crash site edged by mountains, sits the region of Charlevoix. There, guests can check into Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix for a dreamy white Christmas. They can make their way through the powder at night under starlight by snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or tobogganing, or they can practice their triple axels at the on-site skating rink. But guests must return in time to meet Father Christmas, who will distribute gifts discreetly handed over in advance by parents. Grown-ups can get festive with cocktails on December 24, then everybody comes together for a hearty Christmas Eve feast, as per Québécois tradition.
Langdon Hall, Ont
Set on bucolic grounds in Cambridge, Ontario, Langdon Hall has an elegant Downton Abbey vibe—minus the stuffiness. This family-run property goes all out for the holidays, beginning with the 12 Days of Christmas workshops and events in early December, which include tree trimming, port-and-cheese tastings and Christmas cookie-making demos with Chef Jason Bangerter—recently named Relais & Chateau’s Rising Chef. On Christmas Eve, there’s a stocking full of goodies left in each room and on the big day there’s a holiday brunch then Christmas lunch and dinner—with live piano music— featuring dishes, such as truffle soup, slow-roasted turkey and mint, and a caramel and white chocolate log.
The Berkeley: London, U.K.
With its Knightsbridge address, this century-old luxe property is perfect for shoppers wishing to comb Harrods and Hamleys for last-minute gifts. A newer holiday tradition at this iconic century-old hotel is snuggling under a blanket on the roof and sipping mulled wine while watching Christmas movies. Guests can also tour the ritzy neighbourhood by horse and carriage, sipping hot chocolate topped with marshmallows along the way. Those overnighting on Christmas Eve will find stocking in their rooms, and every suite will be decked out with its own Christmas tree. Not to be missed: Midnight Mass at nearby St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Hamburg Fairmont Vier Jahreszeiten
Overlooking the Alster Lake, Hamburg Fairmont Vier Jahreszeiten comes into its own during the holidays with lavish decorations throughout the lobby and public spaces, which include giant nutcrackers, fir trees adorned with lights and big red bows, and life-sized reindeer and bear figures. Steps from the entrance, guests can browse Hamburg’s Christmas market for carved wooden ornaments, hand-stamped cookies and candy galore, and there’s a seasonal shopping space within the property, too. Later guests can wrap gifts by the tree in their room or take the children to a Teddy Bear Tea in the lounge decked out with gingerbread houses. On the big day, three of the hotel restaurants offer Christmas dinner menus with choices spanning regional, European and Asian-fusion fare.
The Roosevelt, New Orleans
In late November, when the 22,000 lights are ceremoniously lit on the 44 trees lining the Roosevelt’s gilded lobby, Christmas is officially underway. All month long, families take their seats at the beloved Teddy Bear Tea, where children can have their holiday books signed by Santa, and Mom and Dad can sip mimosas. Everybody feasts on holiday fare and fresh-from-the-oven pastries. On Christmas Day, brunch is served in the opulent Grand Waldorf Astoria ballroom—expect local delicacies, such as marinated blue crab claws and Bloody Mary oyster shooters. Christmas dinner and cocktails are served all evening in the Fountain Lounge—leave space for the caramel pannacota dessert topped with gingerbread and pears.