Gingerbread houses originated in 16th-century Germany, and they became even more popular among German bakers after Brothers Grimm published Hansel and Gretel, where the wicked witch lures the children to her gingerbread home. Today, hotels carry on the gingerbread tradition, conjuring up elaborate cookie houses from scratch that look straight out of the German fairy tale.
From Las Vegas to Los Cabos, these hotel gingerbread creations will give you a traditional taste of the holidays.
It took 288 hours, 10 pastry chefs and two carpenters to erect this immaculate gingerbread abode. It also required 958 pounds of powdered sugar, 475 pounds of flour, 200 pounds of honey, 191 pounds of holiday spices, 164 pounds of dark chocolate, 128 pounds of molasses and many more ingredients.
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida
A gingerbread pirate ship — which lays claim to being the largest of its kind — dropped its anchor in the lobby of the Amelia Island getaway for the holidays. The massive S.S. Ginger Amelia was constructed with handmade gingerbread planks. Aboard you’ll find sugar-sculpted pirates, and treasure chests surround the showstopper.
Measuring approximately 20 feet wide, 17 feet tall and 15.5 feet deep, the illuminated gingerbread house with gumdrops, candy canes and snow-capped icing is an immersive space. Kids can create their own brick in craft workshops to add to the walls. Or you can simply go there to enjoy seasonal beverages and treats and shop for gifts.
The life-size gingerbread house adorning the lobby looks like it came out of Candyland. The North County hotel used 4,000 pounds of ingredients, including one ton of powdered sugar, 750 pounds of granulated sugar, 750 pounds of cake flour and 2,160 eggs, to create this candy-studded confection.
Fashion icon Coco Chanel inspired this gingerbread sleigh from pastry chef Saber Rejbi and his team. It’s embellished with 100 pounds of gingerbread cookies, 60 pounds of fondant, 60 pounds of royal icing and 50 pounds of candy. Black and white pearl candy and careful white piping along the edge pay homage to Chanel’s iconic pearl necklace.
Mandarin Oriental enlisted well-known Montilio’s Baking Company on Massachusetts’ South Shore to craft a gingerbread replica of the newly renovated Back Bay hotel. The expansive structure sets a wintry Boston scene, with the roof and windows dusted with snow.
ARIA decked its lobby with this sweets-themed holiday display. Trees made of 1,000 macarons, a doughnut tree and other confections surround a life-sized snow globe. Inside, a 6-foot-tall gingerbread man made with 100 pounds of dark chocolate pushes a mug overflowing with hot chocolate and a marshmallow snowman on top gleefully enjoying the ride.
Gingerbread men, candy canes, lollipops, peppermint swirls, wreaths and Christmas trees add festive flair to the gingerbread house that resides in the hotel’s lobby. Executive pastry chef Rabii Saber and his team spent 320 painstaking hours building it, attaching 300 pounds of gingerbread with 240 pounds of royal icing and 180 pounds of fondant.
The Lodge at Turning Stone Resort Casino, Verona, New York
The Upstate New York hotel’s 70-foot-long Gingerbread Village contains eight towering buildings, including a hotel, barn, church, bakery and train station with a moving locomotive. Given the staffing shortages in the hospitality industry, the pastry team recruited more than 30 employees from 20 different departments across the company to ensure this beloved tradition returned this year.
Visit the solarium at 2:50 p.m. daily through December 24 to see the Sea Island Advent Cottage’s candy-studded “door of the day” open to reveal a special treat (like an edible owl confection) and an accompanying activity (like falconry). Afterward, enjoy complimentary cookies and refreshments at the gingerbread-stone advent cottage.
The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Charlotte
Every year, the hotel’s Gingerbread Lane competition pits amateurs and professionals against one another in a gingerbread bake-off. It’s free to see the entries, but it costs a $1 minimum donation to vote for a favorite. Proceeds benefit Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital. After voting, visit the gingerbread-brick hut for hot chocolate (with the option to spike it).
Ener the Atlanta hotel’s life-size gingerbread house for a pop-up from Lucy’s Market, a popular nearby farmer’s market/gift shop. The gingerbread stone walls contain a curated selection of goods that include holiday linens, candles, barware, musical boxes, lacquer wreaths and gourmet candies and chocolates. The pop-up will be open through New Year’s Eve.
After a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic, the Austin hotel’s annual Gingerbread Village returns. The North Pole will be the theme for this year’s village of 11 cookie structures, which include Santa’s workshop, an elf dormitory and a town square with an edible Christmas tree and a live countdown to Dec. 25.
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Florida
The charming 12-foot gingerbread house from executive pastry chef Lerome Campbell and his team resembles a Swiss chalet. Their building materials included 1,200 gingerbread bricks, 756 pounds of all-purpose flour, 464 eggs, 391 pounds of icing sugar, 294 pounds of honey, 240 pounds of sugar, 48 pounds of ginger and 60,000 pieces of candy.