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Sandra MacGregor

Contributing writer

Sandra MacGregor is a freelance travel writer who estimates she has over 400 pint-sized hotel toiletries underneath her bathroom sink. She’s been published in a variety of publications, including the New York Times, National Geographic Travel and AFAR.

While it’s always nice to be home for the holidays, being on the road doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the Christmas cheer. Many hotels embrace the festive spirit by offering unique, lavish and inspired ways to celebrate the yuletide. Here’s just a stocking-size sample of our favorites.

Photo courtesy of Chesterfield Mayfair

Frosty feast

You can bite into a Winter Wonderland at afternoon tea at the Chesterfield Mayfair in London, England. This season the hotel is offering a Christmas-themed afternoon tea. You’ll start with a warming glass of mulled wine and then indulge in a delicious selection of finger sandwiches with seasonal surprises like pulled ham hock, brie and spiced apple chutney on onion bread and a prawn and Marie rose slider. There are also warm cranberry and chocolate scones with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. Be sure to save room for the chocolate yule log, cranberry and coconut Christmas balls and gingerbread-man cupcakes. The Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea is available for £45 (US$56) per person.

Photo courtesy of The Magnolia Hotel & Spa

A Victoria Christmas

One of Canada’s top hotels, The Magnolia Hotel & Spa in Victoria, BC is featuring a special Christmas Package in a bespoke boutique hotel setting. Guests are greeted with a warm winter welcome as soon as they enter the lobby at Magnolia Hotel & Spa thanks to its towering Christmas tree. Take in the tree as you enjoy mulled cider and traditional Christmas cookies. The Victoria Christmas Package includes a $50 daily credit that you can use for in-room dining, relaxing treatments at Spa Magnolia or an award-winning meal at The Courtney Room. The property’s central location also gives guests a wonderful opportunity to explore Victoria’s festively decorated Inner Harbour located nearby. A filling continental breakfast is included with the package. Rates start at CA$239 per night (US$175).

Photo courtesy of The Lowell

A Family Affair

New York’s ultra-luxurious hotel, The Lowell, heralds the holidays in family-centric style with its Very Lowell Holiday Package. Families can get cozy in suites that are elegantly decked out with holiday décor, including personalized stockings, a decorated tree and holiday books. You’ll also receive family VIP tickets to the Wollman Skating Rink, as well as a gourmand holiday afternoon tea. After a day of tea and skating, you’ll return to your suite to find milk and homemade cookies—and a bottle of Pommery bubbles for the adults. Rates for the package start at US$1,350 per night plus taxes.

Photo courtesy of Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & Spa

Design Your Own Décor

Make your own seasonal décor by taking a Christmas wreath-making workshop at the five-star Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & Spa in Dorset. Both local residents and guests are invited to sign-up for this 1.5-hour class that will allow you to adorn your home with your own personal festive flare. Workshop participants will also be served tasty holiday refreshments like mulled wine and mince pies as they create their masterpieces. You’ll also get a wreath kit to take home, so you can practice your new-found skill. Workshops run throughout December 2018 and cost £45 (UDS$56) per person. Make sure you reserve your spot ahead of time!

Photo credit: Paddy Barry/Fogo Island Inn

A Merry Solo Christmas

For those intrepid souls looking for a truly free-spirited way to celebrate the holidays, look no further than Fogo Island, Newfoundland where Fogo Island Inn “celebrates independence and the kindness of strangers” with its solo Christmas package. The lone-wolf itinerary provides precious alone time with the option to partake in one-of-a-kind island adventures and dining with Community Hosts. All Solo Christmas bookings include a hand-crafted wooden dream box. Best of all, rather than being charged the dreaded singles supplement, you’ll enjoy the property’s customary solo traveler rate reduction. Rates begin at CA$1,675 (US$1,231) per night.

Photo courtesy of Milestone Hotel & Residences

A Kid-Friendly Christmas Treat

The historic Milestone Hotel & Residences in London is offering guests 12 and under the chance to try their hand at decorating their very own gingerbread. Children will be teamed with a member of the kitchen staff from the hotel’s restaurant, the Oratory. Freshly made gingerbread along with colorful icing, sprinkles and more will be available for kids to use to express their creative culinary imaginations. The program can even be requested as a more personalized in-room experience and guests not staying at the property can request the decorating lesson as part of the Little Prince and Princess Afternoon Tea (for children under 12) throughout December 2018. The cost is £25 (US$31) per child.

(Feature photo courtesy of The Lowell)

For more stories on what hotels are doing to celebrate the holidays, check these out: Holiday cocktails,  Christmas in the Canadian Rockies and a once-in-a-lifetime package in Paris.


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