It is time to start planning your holiday travel! If you are already counting down the days until Christmas and the winter holiday break, it is time to stop dreaming and start booking because hotels book up fast during the festive season. If you need ideas for a fun and special way to celebrate the holidays this year (stateside), take a look at this list of the best Christmas hotels for ideas.
These hotels really shine during the holidays with festive decorations and special events, making the holiday season magical. We all know that Thanksgiving Weekend and the days right before and between Christmas and New Year’s are when hotels in prime holiday destinations book up early. So the time to book is now!
Best Christmas Hotels
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link, I may receive a small commission. All opinions are my own.
I have already shared some of my favorite places to go for Christmas on the East Coast, and now I want to get a little more specific and offer up ideas for hotels that go above and beyond to create a magical Christmas experience for guests. If this list doesn’t give you enough ideas, see suggestions for the best hotels for families in the USA.
Please remember that hotels change their celebrations each year and dates may vary so please check with the hotel to find out what activities and festivities are available for your preferred dates before booking.
1. Gaylord Hotels (Multiple Locations)
The Gaylord Hotels in Maryland/National Harbor, Nashville, Colorado, Kissimmee, FL, and Grapevine, Texas all offer a spectacular holiday experience, making it one of the top Christmas hotels. Each hotel features an ICE event with ice sculptures, displays, millions of lights, and tons of family fun.
Every year the themes change, including How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas, and A Christmas Story! For 2022, the themes are:
- ICE! Featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Gaylord Opryland
- ICE! Featuring “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!™” at Gaylord Palms
- ICE! Featuring “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at Gaylord Rockies
- ICE! Featuring The Polar Express™ at Gaylord Texan
- ICE! Featuring A Christmas Story™ at Gaylord National
With programming varying across the five resorts, guests of all ages can look forward to wintertime traditions such as ice bumper cars, ice skating, Christmas carousels, carriage rides, and more. They can also flex their creativity with visits to the Gingerbread Decorating Corner, themed art studio, and Build-A-Bear Workshop®; interact with their favorite personalities through the Elf Training Academy and take photos with Santa, and put their creative thinking to the test with themed escape rooms, scavenger hunts and Wildlife Rescue augmented reality experience presented by bubly™.
Pro tips: keep in mind that unless you purchase a holiday package, you will need to buy separate tickets for the ICE Christmas events so purchase those in advance. Also, Gaylord Hotels are part of the Marriott Bonvoy program so this could be a great opportunity to use any hotel loyalty points you have saved up!
- Gaylord Texan Resort, Grapevine, Texas
- Gaylord National Harbor, MD
- Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Nashville, TN
- Gaylord Palms, Kissimmee, FL
2. The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, MT
Photo credit: The Resort at Paws Up
If you want a storybook Western Montana Christmas, The Resort at Paws Up is the place to go. Families will enjoy real-life sleigh rides, gingerbread house building, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snow tubing, game nights, dog sledding, bonfires, and even a Christmas Eve kids’ party – all set against a background of snow-covered mountains. With 37,000 private acres, staying at The Resort at Paws Up is like staying in a national park — without the crowds.
The Resort at Paws Up is a luxury hotel featuring 28 homes and 36 glamping tents. Each guest has their own tree, in their own private home, and everyone gets a personal visit from Santa, complete with an exclusive Paws Up Christmas stocking. It is like Christmas at home, but so much better with a fantastic Christmas dinner prepared in the resort’s amazing restaurants (or delivered to your home on the property.)
Pro tip: this holiday splurge will cost a pretty penny but if you want some extra perks, book through a Virtuoso travel agent (let me know if you need a referral!)
3. The Little America Hotel, Flagstaff, AZ
Photo credit: North Pole Experience
If you want something a little more affordable and not so cold, consider The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona. This hotel’s North Pole Experience allows kids and families to travel through the “North Pole” to explore Santa’s workshop. Nestled on 500 acres of pine forest, Little America gets decked out for the holiday season. The experience starts with a trolley ride through the forest filled with snow and over a million Christmas lights. Inside Santa’s toy factory, guests work side-by-side with Santa and his elves to build toys, then attend Elf University.
They finish up with cookies and snowman soup inside Mrs. Claus’ Bakery. Families can bunk down in one of their newly renovated lodges with all-inclusive package rates starting at $229 per night. Pair a visit with a Christmas visit to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon or ski at the Arizona Snowbowl.
4. Leavenworth Tiny House Village, Leavenworth, WA
Photo credit: Leavenworth Tiny House Village
The Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, Washington is a classic holiday destination with a Christkindlmarket, Nutcracker Museum, Reindeer Farm, and a magical Christmas Lighting Festival. Now you can combine the Winter Wonderland beauty of Leavenworth with the trendy tiny house movement.
The Leavenworth Tiny House Village is located in the Leavenworth RV Campground. These five Bavarian-themed tiny houses offer an affordable, unique, and fun way to celebrate the holidays. Plus, guests have convenient access to over 200 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, cross-country skiing, and sledding hills located on site. This is a perfect way to enjoy a top holiday destination but stay in a cozy and private space of your own! I mean, there is even a tiny house named Rudolf!
5. Sonnenalp Hotel, Vail, CO
Photo credit: Sonnenalp Hotel
Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail Village is a winter wonderland for those seeking a Colorado mountain Christmas. The resort is decked out in greenery, twinkling lights, and holiday decorations. Guests enjoy live music during cocktail hour at the King’s Club and s’mores and Gluhwein by a roaring fire. Be pampered by a ski butler before heading out on the slopes, or enjoy other winter sports including walking, hiking, snowshoe tours, and star gazing hikes, or a scenic driving and photo tour.
For those that stay for Christmas, they can enjoy Christmas Day carolers at the creekside fire pit and visits from Santa, or make reservations for the Sonnenalp Christmas Buffet dinner. With one and two-bedroom suites, as well as private residences with two, three, or four bedrooms, the Sonnenalp is perfect for families looking to splurge for a holiday ski vacation and luxury winter experience.
6. Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, CA
Photo credit: Hotel del Coronado
The classic Hotel del Coronado in Southern California is well-known for its “Frosted by the Sea” winter festive celebrations. From mid-November through the New Year, the iconic resort shimmers and shines as its signature red turrets are draped in thousands of sparkling lights with towering Christmas trees, snowy surprises, and garlands galore filling the property with holiday cheer.
The lobby will sparkle with a spectacular two-story lobby tree and guests can enjoy skating on the beachfront ice rink at Skating by the Sea®. To “warm up”, book a seat in the rinkside Frostbite outdoor lounge with cozy firepits that sit up to six. Families will also enjoy a new holiday light show on the Founders Lawn with festive music and “snow” flurries — truly a Southern California treat! But it isn’t just Christmas that is celebrated at the Del, the hotel hosts a special Thanksgiving dinner and nightly menorah lightings during Chanukah.
The festivities continue with holiday movies on the beach, photos with Santa, elf deliveries to your room, Victorian tea, bonfire s’mores “jingle” roasts, gingerbread houses, and more.
Pro tip: Hotel del Coronado is now owned by Hilton, so this is a great opportunity for Hilton Honors members to use any banked rewards points.
7. Lansdowne Resort & Spa, Leesburg, VA
From late November through early January, the Lansdowne Resort & Spa outside of Washington DC transforms into a winter wonderland. The resort also offers a one-of-a-kind golf cart parade, carriage rides, and a petting zoo.
In addition to thoughtfully curated holiday décor, the resort features special seasonal packages and activities for children of all ages, as well as a holiday market for people to purchase the perfect gift for that special someone. The resort also offers Breakfast with Santa and holiday caroling on select dates in December.
8. Primland Resort, Meadows of Dan, VA
Celebrate the twelve days of Christmas at the Primland Resort. This 12,000-acre mountain, Auberge Collection estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains is one of the top resorts in the Southeast and it welcomes families for the holidays with a month-long calendar of special events. Guests can linger next to a roaring fire while savoring hot Apple Moonshine Cider and get cozy in a cottage, lodge room, or tree house to greet winter in mountain style.
Daily festivities include fireside s’mores, meditation, and holiday movies in the theater. Other special activities include wreath making, painting wintry scenes, and holiday baking. Guests can enjoy a stroll through the Holiday Lights Trail, live music and caroling, star gazing at the resort’s own observatory, and writing letters to Santa.
9. St. Regis Atlanta, Atlanta, GA
Photo credit: St. Regis Atlanta
Located in elegant Buckhead, St. Regis Atlanta has long been a holiday destination for seasonal travelers. Families can enjoy a festive afternoon tea with Santa, Victorian carolers, and a life-size gingerbread house gift shop.
Pro tip: St. Regis is part of Marriott so this is another opportunity to use your Marriott Bonvoy points.
10. The Village at Squaw Valley, Olympic Valley, CA
Photo credit: The Village at Squaw Valley
The Village at Squaw Valley in Olympic Valley, California comes alive in the last two weeks of December with its “Merry Days and Holly Nights,” Christmas celebration. A schedule of special holiday events takes place from the top of the mountain to the base of the village all throughout the holidays. Guests will enjoy visits with Santa, torchlight parades, musical performances, ice sculptures, and more.
Families with young children love the activities that take place at the ‘Merry Wonderland’ (Olympic Village Lodge) including Polar Express miniature train rides, ice sculpture displays, and ice carving demonstrations, as well as horse-drawn sleigh rides. In the evenings the Great Basin Carolers spread joy throughout The Village at Squaw Valley.
Special events have also included shows such as The Twisted Nutcracker and the Tale of the Rat King, the Reno-Jazz Orchestra, and the Toccata Symphony Orchestra. There has also been skiing/snowboarding with Olympian Jonny Moseley, Dawn Patrol early mountain access for the adventurers, and plenty of family fun off the slopes including live music, horse-drawn carriages, Ice Gardens, and Moonlit Snowshoe Dinners in a mid-mountain Chalet.
11. The Edgewater, Madison, WI
Located on the shores of Lake Mendota in lovely Madison, the historic Edgewater embraces the winter season to the fullest. It starts off in late November with a tree lighting ceremony of three large trees on the outdoor plaza. This is followed by a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with performances from many community organizations including local choirs, handbell ensembles, ballet troupes, and more.
Even the inside of the Grand Ballroom transforms into a Holiday Village with crafts, storytime, and ornament making. The hotel hosts various holiday events including Breakfast with Santa, Holiday Afternoon Tea, and a Christmas Brunch. Of course, there is always plenty to do in Madison, even in the winter!
12. Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg, VA
Photo credit: Williamsburg Inn
For a historic Christmas, head to Williamsburg, Virginia and the AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Travel Guide Five Star property, the Williamsburg Inn. The area is spectacular during the holiday season, filled with thousands of lights, decorative 18th-century-style wreaths throughout the historic area homes, and dozens of uniquely themed holiday events.
Visitors can go ice skating at the Liberty Ice Pavilion, shop at the Williamsburg Christmas Market, enjoy specialty holiday dining, and Christmas Town at the nearby Busch Gardens. The season kicks off with the Williamsburg Inn Annual Lighting ceremony in late November, featuring artists from the Virginia Arts Festival and an arrival from Santa, and a highlight is the Grand Illumination fireworks spectacular in December.
13. Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite, CA
The legendary Ahwahnee Hotel (formerly the Majestic Hotel Yosemite) in Yosemite National Park offers elaborate Christmas celebrations including elegant and sumptuous Old England Christmas feasts called Bracebridge Dinners.
The meal is followed by a magical theatre performance originally directed by famed photographer Ansel Adams. The Ahwahnee’s Dining Room is transformed into a manor hall for this celebrated Yuletide extravaganza.
14. Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, Riverside, CA
Photo credit: Mission Inn Hotel & Spa
Southern California’s historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa offers a front-row seat to the Annual Festival of Lights, named one of the “Best Public Lights Display in the Nation” by USA Today. This annual tradition attracts more than 500,000 visitors from all over the world for the free, six-week-long holiday extravaganza starting in late November and running through early January.
During the famous “Switch-On” Ceremony (public health policy dependent), the castle-like hotel is instantly illuminated with five million holiday lights followed by a full fireworks display. The Festival of Lights includes 200 animated figures including angels, elves, and Dickens carolers; appearances by Santa Claus, the world’s largest man-made mistletoe, horse-drawn carriage rides, elf tuck-ins, freshly fallen snow, elaborately decorated Christmas trees; and delectable holiday confections at the famous Casey’s Cupcakes, among other festive offerings.
Mission Inn Hotel & Spa is a member of the prestigious Historic Hotels of America, and its Spanish-Mission style architecture evokes the romance and enchantment of a European castle.
15. The Drake hOtel, Chicago, IL
Christmas in Chicago is always a festive affair. Ever since the hotel’s opening party on New Year’s Eve in 1920, The Drake Hotel has continued to be a Chicago holiday fixture. Decorated before The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Parade, The Drake’s grand foyer features a Christmas tree adorned with beautifully handcrafted decorations, a Gingerbread Village, holiday-inspired floral installations, holiday carolers, a harpist and over 150 colorful holiday-themed flourishes.
Holiday events at The Drake include Centurion Holiday Tea at Palm Court while enjoying the festive sounds of the 12 Days of Christmas Carolers, twelve days of merry martinis at Coq d’Or, Sunday Special holiday dinners, letters to Santa in the Christmas-themed mailbox in the gingerbread village, and a spectacular Black-Tie Affair on New Year’s Eve at The Palm Court. Families can even book a special “The Cat in the Hat” package and receive VIP admission to the Dr. Seuss Experience.
16. Topnotch Resort, Stowe, VT
How many resorts are there where you can bring home your own Christmas tree? Topnotch Resort in the scenic town of Stowe, Vermont has partnered with Paine’s Christmas Trees for an “O’Christmas Tree” Package.
Guests can take a wagon ride through the tree farm to find the perfect tree and pick out an ornament from the shop. In addition to tree shopping, Topnotch offers a host of winter activities including sleigh rides, cross-country skiing, and outdoor firepits. And, the tallest mountain in Vermont is only a short drive away.
17. HarbourView Inn, Charleston, SC
Photo credit: HarbourView Inn
Charleston, South Carolina transforms into a real-life Charles Dickens scene every December, with city-wide events like James Island’s Annual Holiday Festival of Lights, Marion Square’s one-of-a-kind holiday farmer’s market, and Magnolia Plantation’s Children’s Holiday Village.
At the HarbourView Inn, in the heart of the Historic District, live Christmas carolers will appear with Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and a gingerbread house replica of the hotel is displayed in the lobby. Guests are also provided with an impressive list of holiday-inspired complimentary amenities including local artisanal chocolate truffle turndown, warm winter bread baked by famed Saffron’s Bakery, and lavish holiday décor displayed in-room and throughout the property for a truly mystical Christmas vacation.
18. The Towers Mansion, Natchez, MS
The Towers Mansion in Natchez, Mississippi features a “Jeweled Christmas” featuring thousands of pieces of vintage costume jewelry. The Towers, which was originally constructed in the late 1700s, operates as a B&B throughout the year but each holiday season incorporates a dazzling display of diamonds, making one of the most unusual seasonal tours in the South.
From late November through early January, the tour embodies the welcoming spirit of the south mixed with old-school glamour. In the area, many other antebellum homes offer special Christmas candlelight tours and host Christmas celebrations.
18. Barnsley Resort, Adairsville, GA
Photo credit: Barnsley Resort
The Barnsley Resort, located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Northern Georgia, lights up the night with an array of colorful holiday lights at the historic Manor House Ruins. From Thanksgiving night through January 1, guests can stroll the gardens or relax in the resort’s hammocks while overlooking the twinkling lights.
In addition, the resort offers several holiday-themed events perfect for travelers looking to get into the holiday spirit, including Gingerbread House Crafting, Wreath Making Class, Harvest Hayride, Campfire Stories, and Cookie Decorating, as well as a Christmas Day Buffet.
19. The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, CO
The Broadmoor offers the quintessential Colorado Christmas with a massive gingerbread display and a million twinkling lights. There are also elegantly decorated trees, music, games, activities, and special events including Breakfast with Santa.
Guests can also visit the nearby Seven Falls, one of Colorado’s most captivating natural wonders during all seasons of the year, but in winter you can see the Frozen Falls and soar across them with The Broadmoor Soaring Adventure.
20. Harraseeket Inn, Freeport, ME
Photo credit: Harraseeket Inn
If you need to do some last-minute shopping before your holiday, the Harraseeket Inn offers the perfect location for both preparing for and enjoying the holiday. A family-owned and operated luxury inn, the Harraseeket is a classic Maine hotel just steps away from the flagship L.L. Bean store and more than 170 upscale outlets.
On Christmas Day, the Inn puts together a buffet that dreams are made of. The hotel is also beautifully decorated so that every guest can feel the holiday spirit and many of the rooms have fireplaces. Guests are invited to bring an ornament and write their name and the year they began staying at the hotel and find a place for it on the “Guest Tree” in the lobby.
And to not leave the kids out, owner and General Manager, Chip Gray, jingles the sleigh bells around 1 a.m. on Christmas Day to let the little ones know that Santa hasn’t forgotten them, a long-standing tradition in the Gray Family.
21. JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, San Antonio, TX
There is no need to freeze at the North Pole when you can enjoy the holiday in Texas Hill Country at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. From mid-November through December 31st, the resort’s annual “Light up the Night” holiday show will brighten and dazzle guests and visitors with more than 250,000 twinkling lights choreographed to holiday music in an outdoor wonderland.
Other activities include an Elf on the Shelf family scavenger hunt, a polar plunge at the pool, letters to Santa, outdoor movies, cookie and ornament decorating, holiday s’mores, Build-A-Bear workshops, horse-drawn carriage rides, animatronic singing reindeer and penguins, story time with Santa, and even a hot cocoa bar. Of course, guests can also enjoy the resort’s nine-acre River Bluff Water Experience featuring heated pools, two body drop slides, three water slides, and a 1,100-foot-long lazy river.
22. The Roosevelt New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
Photo credit: The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel
Every holiday season, The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, opens its spectacular holiday Waldorf Wonderland lobby to welcome the holiday season. Ranked among the world’s best displays by USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, Waldorf Wonderland incorporates over 100,000 white lights; 1,600 feet of lighted garland; 387 bows, over 4,000 glass ornaments; 78 birch trees; and 46 Christmas trees. The block-long displays are free and open to the public through New Year’s Day.
In addition to the light displays, The Roosevelt offers a Teddy Bear Tea with Santa and Mrs. Claus. After tea, the youngest guests receive a collectible Teddy Bear to take home, along with photos with Santa.
23. Historic Hotel Bethlehem, Bethlehem, PA
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is also known as “Christmas City,” not just because of the name but also the holiday decor, Christkindlmarkt, Christmas City Village, and the 81-foot-tall steel “Star of Bethlehem” that radiates atop South Mountain.
Historic Hotel Bethlehem is the perfect spot to soak in the Christmas spirit. When entering, guests are ushered into the 1920s, with elegantly-adorned floor to ceiling trees, a stunning Nativity scene, and glistening ornaments and lights.
24. Great Wolf Lodge (Multiple Locations)
For a howling good time, take the kids to the Great Wolf Lodge. Known for the indoor water parks, the Great Wolf transforms into Snowland from November until the New Year. Entertainment includes festive family movies, a Snow n’ Glow dance party when it “snows” in the lobby, and visits from Santa Claus.
Families will also enjoy North Pole University, where kids complete fun, holiday-themed assignments around the resort for the chance to earn a Snowploma, and the Polar Wolf Walk, where a tour of a lobby teaches lessons about polar bears and penguins, and more. For something extra special, book a Snowland Suite complete with an in-room tree and holiday decor.
25. Grand Wailea, Maui, HI
Who said Christmas has to be snowy? The Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort (a Hilton brand) offers a celebration of a different kind for those that want to flee the snow.
Special Christmas offerings include the Grand Wailea’s Tree Lighting Ceremony (with eight miles of lights), a gingerbread display, holiday cookies and cocoa, breakfast with Santa, dive-in movies featuring holiday classics, and special holiday meals. Santa even arrives by Hawaiian canoe on Christmas Eve.
26. Hotel Hershey, Hershey, PA
What better place to spend Christmas than in the Sweetest Place on Earth? Hotel Hershey offers special packages including milk and cookie delivery. Plus, you can enjoy Christmas Candylane in nearby Hersheypark, where Santa, his elves, and live reindeer (including Rudolph), make an appearance.
With over 50 rides and 6 coasters, and a choreographed light show with four million lights, it provides the sweetest theme park holiday experience. Nearby, families can also enjoy the drive-through “Sweet Lights” display of nearly 600 illuminated displays.
27. El Capitan Hotel, Merced, CA
El Capitan, a JdV by Hyatt hotel is surrounded by some of the most prolific nut farms in the world and they go “Nuts for the Holidays” and offer guests an opportunity to sleep in the Nuttiest Holiday Ever Suite surrounded by 100’s of nutcrackers while snacking on locally grown nuts. The hotel’s Nuts for the Holidays celebration begins at the front door where a pair of larger-than-life, 10-foot-tall nutcrackers will greet guests as they enter the nutcracker-decorated lobby.
From December up until Christmas, every guest checking into El Capitan will receive a complimentary nutcracker ornament. Complementary nutcracker decorating will be available for guests, hand-decorated nutcracker cookies are available for sale each day, and visitors can enjoy holiday movies in a renovated historic cinema nearby.
28. Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, Lake Geneva, WI
Lake Geneva’s Grand Geneva Resort & Spa is one of the Midwest’s top holiday destinations featuring over two million holiday lights. A six-week long holiday celebration for kids of all ages features over-the-top holiday décor; private igloo dining; breakfasts with Santa; a warm Trolley Tour of Lights; a sweet hall filled with gingerbread displays; plus, the option to have a decorated Christmas tree in your hotel room.
The holiday season kicks off in late November with the annual Illumination Ceremony, flipping the switch on its over-the-top holiday displays, lights, animated designs, grand Christmas trees, and plenty of photo opportunities to capture the holiday cheer. The event features activities for kids, holiday cookies, hot apple cider, a dazzling fireworks display, plus an appearance from the big guy himself, Santa Claus.
29. Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Scottsdale, AZ
The Southwest’s most extraordinary holiday celebration takes place at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. Go ice skating and catch colorful light shows in the Enchanted Plaza. Roast marshmallows and make s’mores. Stage a selfie with Santa and meet our cute cast of holiday characters.
The newest offering is Chateau Champagne, a VIP experience where guests can follow a trail through the idyllic setting of Winterland to a candlelit path that leads to an ultra-luxe retreat around a semi-private fire pit. Indulge in a prix fixe menu including your own bottle of Moet Imperial Brut, truffle Gouda fondue, shellfish tower, assorted artisanal petite fours and artisanal s’mores board—complete with ginger snaps and chocolate-stuffed, vanilla-infused marshmallows.
30. Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills, CA
The Beverly Wilshire gets dressed up for the holidays and rolls out the red carpet for the season with specially curated events and promotions. The season kicks off with the annual Rodeo Drive Holiday Lighting Ceremony complete with outdoor performances and fireworks.
The hotel’s main lobby features live Christmas trees, glittering lights with red and gold garlands, holiday florals, oversized Christmas ornaments and welcoming nutcracker statues and the exterior awnings are switched to green and red. Guests can enjoy complimentary hot apple cider and holiday-inspired cookies. Hanukkah is also celebrated with holiday cookies and a menorah lighting.