One of the most festive holiday traditions at hotels is grand gingerbread houses. Pastry teams work tirelessly to bring towering gingerbread creations to life, using hundreds of pounds of dough, icing and candy.
We found properties all over the country that made impressive and delectable-looking displays, from a single oversized house to an entire gingerbread village.
A “Merry Mansions” gingerbread house display wraps around the mantel of the 30-foot fireplace at the Houston hotel’s Great Room Lobby. It honors the city’s Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens (a house museum for American decorative arts and paintings), and the estates along North Post Oak Lane.
It also pays tribute to architect John Staub, who designed the elegant Bayou Bend mansion for oil heiress Ima Hogg in 1927 and a handful of country houses in the area where The Houstonian stands today.
This fantastical gingerbread house is like that elaborately decorated showstopper in your neighborhood that revelers drive by at night to see lit up.
“The Ritz-Carlton gingerbread house is a tradition beloved by hotel guests and locals alike, and we are happy to be able to bring friends and family together again this way,” executive pastry chef Lerome Campbell says. “We had to make sure every single detail on the house is perfect. Guests may notice the detailed gingerbread men, some wearing face masks, others with bow ties or mustaches.”
Campbell and his six-person team erected this darling home complete with a porch in three weeks. It took 750 pounds of powdered sugar, 550 pounds of flour, 325 pounds of brown sugar, 150 pounds of egg white, 100 pounds of shortening, 70 quarts of eggs, 65 pounds each of ginger and cinnamon, 30 pounds each of honey and molasses, and 20 pounds of baking soda.
The Buckhead hotel continues its yearly tradition of offering a life-size gingerbread house. But this isn’t merely a display. The home is the setting for private teas with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
While the festive tea is sold out, you can admire the workmanship of the edible edifice. And even though two tall nutcrackers guard the entrance, you still can peek inside to see the cheery fireplace adorned with stockings.
The Houston hotel spent 450 hours constructing a life-size gingerbread house in front of its Bouchée Patisserie that’s so charming, you may want to move in.
For its building materials, the staff used 606 pounds of gingerbread dough to make 550 bricks and 917 shingles, 115 pounds of icing and 50 pounds of assorted candy. The cookie home also sports sweet accents like 3,200 macarons and 400 gingerbread characters.
The Polar Express chugged into the Middleburg, Virginia, hotel for the holidays. Executive pastry chef Jason Reaves reenacted a scene from the popular movie featuring a gingerbread, frosting and modeling chocolate train with a working headlight and lit-up passenger cars. It’s parked in front of edible mountains and an aurora borealis light show projects on the exhibit.
The 6-foot-long, 3.5-foot-wide and 4-foot-tall display included an estimated 200 pounds of gingerbread, 50 pounds of frosting and 35 pounds of modeling chocolate.
While the Chicago hotel’s lobby is festooned in holiday decorations, you won’t want to overlook its gingerbread offerings. Local company Flourish Cake Design baked a gingerbread tree adorned with sparkly fondant baubles and adorable gingerbread Langham pink taxi ornaments.
The second gingerbread creation celebrates winter in Chicago. A tiered cake provides the canvas for the immaculate gingerbread re-creations of the architecture-rich city’s iconic buildings, including the Langham’s Mies van der Rohe structure, the Marina Towers, the Wrigley Building and the Cloud Gate sculpture (better known as the Bean).
The above photo is an antique curio cabinet. But look closer — the 7-foot-tall, 3-foot-wide case was assembled with 45 pounds of gingerbread, nearly 60 pounds of royal icing, 15 pounds of fondant and a combined total pound of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Its gingerbread shelves showcase a dozen handmade, solid chocolate nutcrackers weighing in at just under three pounds apiece.
Executive pastry chef Jeremy Garcia added some Easter eggs (or should we say Christmas eggs?) — look for hidden gingerbread cookies, including a star, dinosaur and snowman.
Pastry chef Katrina Pagan and her team utilized 600 pounds of gingerbread dough, 110 pounds of icing, 100 pounds of candies and 80 pounds of chocolate for the downtown Atlanta hotel’s oversized gingerbread house this year.
Take note of the attention to detail on the gingerbread-brick building: “Ritz-Carlton” is spelled out in candy at the top, the roof’s trim is made of neatly piped snowflakes, Santa’s boots dangle from the chimney and a peppermint candy serves as a doorbell.
Walk down Gingerbread Lane, the Charlotte hotel’s annual display that raises money for charity. Gingerbread Lane is a competition open to amateur and professional bakers. Pick your favorites among the 35 gingerbread houses that depict everything from pandemic Santa with Clorox wipes and masks to expertly constructed homes lined with icicles and wreaths (see above), and donate a minimum of $1 per vote. Proceeds will go to Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital (you also can donate online).
Afterward hit the hotel’s Gingerbread Hut for some hot chocolate, which you can order spiked.
Set in the lobby of this California hotel, Pebble Beach Resorts pastry chef Anastasia Simpson concocted a gingerbread village on a series of concentric platforms to resemble a Christmas tree. It took Simpson and her team almost a month to create the five-level vertical structure’s small gingerbread houses, each uniquely designed with peppermint sticks, gummy ribbon, candy canes, M&M’s, nonpareils, gumdrops and other candies.
One of the Northeast’s largest gingerbread displays takes place at this Upstate New York hotel. Measuring more than 70 feet in length, the Gingerbread Village includes nine lofty buildings, including a hotel, Tudor-style home, church and barn. More than 700 pounds of gingerbread dough, 2,045 pounds of icing and more than 750 pounds of candy were used to make this delicious display.