When Christmas trees were introduced to America in the mid-1800s, they were tall and lush, but they were far from the lavish arrangements we see today. In high-end hotels especially, jaw-dropping trees garnished in fine crystals and those sprinkling in edible ornaments have become a can-you-top-this? tradition.
Our Forbes Travel Guide editors have peeked into decked-out hotel lobbies all around the globe and have made a list of seasonal scenes that will take your breath away.
Heralded British contemporary artist Tracey Emin converted the tree at her favorite London hotel into an art installation. The 30-foot-tall spruce bears neon-purple words, fashioned to look like Emin’s own handwriting, from her poem: “What I give to you is all that I have. / An Open wanting / Deep in The Layers of my heart / And in Return I catch / Your smile / The Greatest Gift of All.”
The Five-Star London hotel turns the holidays on their head with a lobby of inverted trees designed by fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld. The showstopper is a 16-foot-tall spruce hanging by its silver gilded roots and festooned with silver lametta, silver leather feathers and snowflakes and glowing candles.
The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue
For a fresh take, the Four-Star Midtown Manhattan hotel adorns its 10-foot-tall tree with gold net ribbon, gold spherical ornaments, gold snowflakes and pink — Langham’s signature hue — preserved Ecuadorian roses (they last up to 60 days) from Luxe Bloom.
Millennium Seoul Hilton
Every year, this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Seoul hotel puts on a holiday spectacle: a giant 33-foot-tall tree towers over its main lobby. Here’s a close-up look at the hundreds of lights and ornaments that make this impressive tree sparkle.
Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona
Children in Catalonian homeless shelters wrote to the Three Wise Men asking for Christmas gifts. Their rolled-up letters hang on the Five-Star Barcelona hotel’s lovely wishing tree, waiting to be answered. The project, done in conjunction with the Soñar Despierto foundation, allows you to play Santa for a little one in need.
The Lodge at Glendorn
You will find everything you need for a cozy, traditional Christmas at this rustic Pennsylvania hideaway next to the Allegheny National Forest — namely, a magnificent 16-foot tree next to a roaring fire.
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort
While San Diego may not be a winter wonderland, this Five-Star hotel creates one with its Festival of Trees. Park Hyatt Aviara’s indoor forest features dozens of decorated beauties lining the hallways. Our favorite is this nine-foot chocolate tree. Bid on the trees; proceeds will go to the Semper Fi Fund to assist local military.
Palace Hotel Tokyo
The 13-foot tree in this Five-Star hotel’s lobby goes the elegant route, with a monochromatic palette of silver adorning its branches. It makes us want to burst into a rendition of “Silver Bells.”
Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris
Surrounded by traditionally decorated trees, this storied Five-Star hotel’s eye-catching red-and-silver mirrored tree is split in two. It creates a path that leads you to the almost 40-foot-high tree in the courtyard. The dazzling scene is the work of heralded artistic director Jeff Leatham.
Balboa Bay Resort
In Newport Beach, California, this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel keeps things merry and bright with a 20-footer under a gazebo. There are so many shiny ornament balls covering the tree that you can barely make out the branches.