It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And even though it may feel like summer in the valley, Southern California is home to high-end hotels with serious holiday spirit to get you in the mood. From a Christmas tree made entirely of chocolate to the world’s largest mistletoe, there’s something to spark that child-like wonder in us all at these fine festive properties.
This Beverly Hills beauty knows how to deliver the holidays in style. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star property’s lobby has transformed into a winter wonderland with gold, copper and red decorations, including metallic tree sculptures, that accent the centerpiece — a perfectly trimmed 12-foot Douglas fir.
Kids (and kids at heart) won’t want to miss the giant eight-by-12-foot gingerbread house created by pastry chef Chris Ford.
But just in case you’re still feeling the Scrooge vibe, make your way to the valet area in the evening to catch the Beverly Wilshire’s tradition of real “snowfall,” returning for the first time after a 15-year hiatus. Accompanied by freshly roasted chestnuts, this magical experience will occur from 6 to 8 p.m. daily through December.
How can this Five-Star escape possibly top last year’s 250-pound chocolate train? By building an edible, nine-foot Christmas tree, of course. Christophe Rull, head pastry chef at this Carlsbad retreat, has dreamed up a stunning, sugary structure made entirely of chocolate, gingerbread and candy that’s on display in the lobby through the holiday season.
Other things to marvel at during your visit include gorgeous wreaths and themed trees, such as Coastal Christmas and Santa’s Workshop, throughout the property.
For an elegant holiday affair, make your way to this Four-Star beauty to dine like the stars. On Christmas Eve, grab a table at the hotel’s trendy lounge, Nest at WP24, to indulge in a carefully crafted menu of modern dim sum, sharable Asian-inspired plates (think wok-fried shrimp and spicy beef stir-fry) and small sweet bites to finish.
After a delightful dinner, stop by WP24 by Wolfgang Puck for a nightcap that will hit all the right seasonal notes. Specialty cocktails such as the Love Lust Lace (champagne, Grand Marnier and lemon bitters) or the Brown Sugar (cognac, apple brandy, Cointreau orange and Demerara raw sugar) will be gifts that rival anything you will open under the tree the next morning.
Every December, this Palm Springs resort a turns into a winter wonderland. Of course, it does it with desert style. From breakfast with Santa to outdoor holiday movie screenings (complete with s’mores toasting around the firepit), there’s Christmas joy waiting around every corner.
Even the spa joins in on the spirit of the season. Between the Merry Merlot Body Renewal and the Warm and Toasty Cinnamon Body Massage, your body will be fully immersed in that festive feel.
Originally built in 1876, this Riverside, California, hotel is a National Historic Landmark that occupies an entire city block. Come Christmastime, the Spanish mission-inspired architecture provides a lovely backdrop for one of the nation’s most extravagant holiday displays. Between the 5 million lights, 200 animated figures dancing along the Inn’s exterior and 30-foot pixelated tree in the sky, Santa’s definitely has his eye on this property from the North Pole.
Other highlights of the hotel’s 25th holiday anniversary (since owners Kelly and Duane Roberts saved the building from being demolished in 1992) include a gingerbread replica of the entire hotel made with 500 pounds of the spiced cookie and a candy cane lane with festive window displays.
A tip for the lovebirds: you can give that special someone a giant kiss under the world’s largest man-made mistletoe hanging near the main entrance.