Christmas trees have never been just staid, brightly lit green Tannenbaums with gifts underneath. They have always come in many shapes and sizes. Before spreading the tradition abroad, many Germans hung their trees from ceilings and hid their children’s gifts in the branches, all the better to keep the presents out of their eager clutches.
Destinations across the world have put on dazzling displays this season that eschew the belief that Christmas trees ever had one traditional look. From Santa Barbara to Sydney, these hotels are decking the halls with show-stopping arrangements sure to fill you with cheer, whether you like your tree with bright red bows and twinkling white lights or with bottles of bubbly.
The Lanesborough’s glittering festive display looks to the future. Adopting the theme “Be Bright & Sparkle!,” artist Tony Marklew embellished the London hotel and its tree with thousands of faceted crystals and large reflective silver orbs to stunning effect. The décor represents hopes of a bright and sparkling 2022.
Artist Noah Harders, who was born and raised in nearby Waikapu, crafted a unique cluster of striking mauve, lavender and pink trees. Instead of fir or pine, Harders used roughly 1,000 king and queen proteas, more than 1,000 dried palms and other dried pieces, sourcing from as many local farms as possible.
The Tokyo hotel’s ethereal trees are a vision in white that fan out on a bed of red poinsettias. The unusual shape is supposed to offer good luck. The trees hold about 460 ornaments that were handmade using discarded kimonos from the property’s costume salon, a collection of formal attire.
The Santa Barbara getaway celebrates the season with a fragrant floral tree. The bespoke design uses more than 1,800 roses in rich shades of crimson, raspberry and coral. Plus, the arrangement is eco-friendly: the Luxe Bloom blossoms retain their scent and coloring for up to a year with no watering needed.
The large, shiny gold baubles that stud this tree come from luxury Swiss jeweler Chopard. After snapping photos of it in the lobby, retreat to the Monte Carlo hotel’s winter garden for treats from renowned chef Alain Ducasse’s Chocolate Bar amid smaller illuminated trees and chocolate sculptures.
Soaring 21 feet in the lobby, the corkbark fir from St. Maries, Idaho, is a classic beauty. Woven throughout its branches are simple gold and red ornaments as well as 114 strings holding 11,400 glimmering bulbs — the most lights the hotel has ever used in its annual tree.
To celebrate Crown Towers Sydney’s first Christmas, Australian pearl purveyor Paspaley spent more than 200 hours dreaming up a design. It trimmed the tree with more than 50 mother-of-pearl shells (each was carefully hand-drilled to create an ornament), 8,450 individual hand-wired pearl-inspired beads, 500 pearlescent Christmas baubles and an oversized pearl-studded star.
Executive pastry chef Rasika Weerasinghe baked up this sweet stunner. Set up in Al Meylas restaurant, 3,500 balls of pâte à choux were piled into tree form. The pastries were coated in a spray Valrhona blue-purple chocolate dye, the hue representing the hotel’s waterfront and the serenity of its spaces.
The Temple House upholds a holiday tradition: a sustainable Christmas tree. This year, it constructed a 23-foot-high tree using 10,000 glass bottles upcycled from the guest rooms. The clear glass glows with thousands of sparkling lights. After the festivities end, the bottles will be recycled at a waste center.
It takes The Breakers 11 months to plan its holiday décor and 15 to 20 staff members to put up 170,000 twinkle lights, 8,000 ornaments, 12,000 feet of ribbon and 126 bows throughout the property. One highlight is the pair of 18-foot evergreens in the lobby. This year should be particularly joyful — it marks the family-owned hotel’s 125th anniversary.
Italian fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo collaborated with the hotel to build this year’s tree. Ornaments came from Ferragamo’s famed Gancini pattern and signature Rainbow shoe, and Mandarin Oriental’s fan logo tops the tree. It’s all bathed in gold as an homage to the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, the country’s 50th anniversary.
While the New Orleans favorite decks its halls with 11 trees, you can’t miss the 19.5-foot Tannenbaum. It’s covered in more than 25,000 white lights, and a toy train chugs along the base. The boutique hotel also hangs six-foot magnolia wreaths in the lobby windows and more than 1,500 feet of gold magnolia garland in other spaces.
Kim Jones, artistic director of Dior men’s collections, dreamed up a stellar snow-globe tree for the London hotel. Holographic projections mix with pleated toile to make the 21-foot-tall white showpiece appear to shimmer with snowflakes. The baubles that orbit the tree reflect Dior’s iconic motifs, including stars and miniature perfume bottles.
The elegant gold ornaments that dangle on the Five-Star hotel’s lobby tree branches come from Tiffany & Co. and are inspired by designer Jean Schlumberger. For more from the brand, visit the Tiffany Suite, where you can see exclusively selected jewelry for some last-minute personalized shopping with an expert.
The Lytle Park Hotel, Cincinnati, Ohio
Toast the season with this champagne Christmas tree. Composed of champagne bottles, the tree also serves as a lobby bar where you can clink flutes of bubbly. For more holiday cheer, the hotel’s Vista rooftop bar transformed into a winter lodge with alpine and Russian fir trees.
The Connaught, London
This Nordmann fir stands 30 feet tall and showcases local artist Annie Morris’ stack sculptures — misshapen, vivid spheres precariously piled into columns. The wobbly towers symbolize life’s uncertainty and the beauty that can come from the unknown. Artist Idris Khan did the base, reinforcing Morris’ sculptures and representing the support at the core of relationships.
The White House Historical Association, a nonprofit that preserves the history of the famed D.C. residence, decorated this lobby tree. The group dressed it up with official White House ornaments and a gold eagle tree topper. Through the holidays, visit the tree at 6 p.m. daily to partake in a complimentary champagne sabering ritual.