Destination SpotlightCategory|

Most Wow‑Worthy Hotel Decorations This Holiday Season

Imagine walking through a magical world of 100,000 lights strung through acres of landscaped gardens, stepping into the North Pole complete with illuminated reindeer or sipping cocoa or a cocktail before following your nose to a life-sized gingerbread house with edible bricks.

Whether you are traveling or exploring locally, Hilton has a host of wow-worthy hotels where you can immerse yourself in the holiday spirit and find the perfect backdrop for Instagram-worthy photos with family or friends — including some sustainable decorations to help save the planet.

At some hotels, it’s not just about the decorations but about the giving spirit, too. From community gift-giving at the Festival of Trees at a property in Atlanta to a Toys for Tots toy drive at a hotel in Jacksonville, Florida, you’ll have a chance to spread the holiday cheer and touch the lives of people in the communities where you live or visit over the holidays.

Below is a list of festive places to start, but wherever you decide to visit, make sure you take in the sights, sounds and smells of the holiday season.


Embassy Suites by Hilton Jacksonville Baymeadows (Jacksonville, Florida): Step inside the North Pole and into a world of winter magic and spectacle, surrounded by Santa’s red sleigh, illuminated reindeer and a scene from Santa’s workshop. At Embassy Suites by Hilton Jacksonville Baymeadows, guests will delight in the holiday spirit and meet Santa at a breakfast event in conjunction with Toys for Tots. In a mission to provide less fortunate children with gifts this holiday season, any child who donates a new toy to the organization will get a visit from Santa for a photo opportunity.

Toys for Tots gift drop at Embassy Suites by Hilton Jacksonville Baymeadows
The Founders Inn and Spa, Tapestry Collection by Hilton (Virginia Beach, Virginia): Kick off the holiday season with a walk through a magical world of 100,000 lights strung around the hotel’s 26 landscaped acres of gardens. Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with choirs in the atrium, pictures with Santa and a horse-drawn carriage ride around the scenic lake at the annual Founders Illumination Event. For nearly 30 years, The Founders Inn and Spa has brought both overnight guests and the local community together with the award-winning event.

The great Christmas tree at The Founders Inn and Spa: Tapestry Collection by Hilton @foundersinn
The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel (New Orleans, Louisiana): In a series of traditions and celebrations known and loved worldwide since the 1930s, guests can experience magic at the Waldorf Wonderland as the hotel comes to life for the 2019 holiday season. Bursting with spirit, the 126-year-old hotel is filled with more than 1,000 feet of garlands, 698 hand-tied bows, 2,200 glass ornaments, 44 Christmas trees and 3,328 feet of winter-white branches. While the opulent holiday destination is already famous for its Teddy Bear Tea, guests and New Orleans locals are welcome to stop by the legendary Sazerac Bar for a traditional holiday cocktail and marvel at the 135,572 twinkling lights that illuminate the block-long lobby.

The festively lit entrance to The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel
Embassy Suites by Hilton Atlanta at Centennial Olympic Park (Atlanta, Georgia):  Embassy Suites by Hilton Atlanta at Centennial Olympic Park continues its annual tradition of honoring the giving spirit of the holiday season by hosting the Festival of Trees. Sponsored by the hotel, the festival includes a charitable event where hotel guests and Atlanta residents are invited to donate to 40 participating local nonprofit organizations that have decorated trees for the event. Each uniquely designed tree is displayed in the hotel’s atrium for six weeks for community members, guests and staff to enjoy.

The Festival of Trees at Embassy Suites Atlanta at Centennial Olympic Park
La Quinta Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort (La Quinta, California):  Step right into the movie village of Bedford Falls from the yuletide film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” La Quinta Resort & Club’s central plaza is transformed to celebrate the award-winning screenwriter Frank Capra, who is rumored to have written the American classic film while staying at the hotel. Twinkling lights drape across palm trees and holiday decor throughout the hotel, illuminating the casual elegance of La Quinta Resort and evoking a special magic found only in the desert oasis. Enjoy the warmth and ample sunshine by day and gather around a cozy fire pit at night as families roast chestnuts, sip hot chocolate and listen to carolers perform.

La Quinta Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort


Conrad Maldives Rangali Island (Rangali Island, Maldives): Join the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in celebrating the Indian Ocean and nurturing the island’s endangered environment. Experience unparalleled luxury at the world’s first undersea residence and start the new year with social responsibility at the forefront. This year, the Conrad Maldives team will take part in a resort-wide Build a Tree Competition, tasking members with building Christmas trees using recycled, or up-cycled, items such as wine bottles, cardboard boxes and paper. The trees will decorate the resort, and guests are invited to vote on their favorites before a special tree lighting ceremony on December 24th.

Santa and his helpers at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort (Rome, Italy): Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort invites guests from around the world to experience the holiday season with a program inspired by time-honored traditions. Guests will be greeted by festive decor influenced by traditional Christmas symbols, including a grand Christmas tree bedecked with metal toys and surrounded by a wooden train. The extravagant display will feature hundreds of red berry branches and thousands of fairy lights draped over sweeping balconies. Guests will receive a choice of restaurant options and activities within a warm and cozy atmosphere, where they can discover chef Heinz Beck’s culinary magic at La Pergola, a Michelin-rated three-star restaurant. Guests can also indulge in the sweet holiday-inspired creations of the hotel’s executive pastry chef, Dario Nuti.

The grand tree part of the holiday décor at Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Hilton Colombo (Colombo, Sri Lanka): Hilton Colombo welcomes guests traveling from near and far with true Sri Lankan hospitality. This year, Hilton Colombo Team Members will spend 300 hours transforming the hotel into the Southern Hemisphere’s winter dream. A magnificent 7-by-4-foot train car will be constructed as the centerpiece of the lobby, and the kitchen team will create a larger-than-life edible treat in the form of a snow mountain. To keep decorations sustainable, 40,000 single-use plastic bottles from hotel guests are used to construct ornaments and decorate the exterior of the hotel. Later, these sustainable ornaments are sent to a plastic recycling plant to manufacture yarn that will be used to make clothing for hearing-impaired children.

Santa’s workshop at Hilton Colombo
Hilton Chennai (Chennai, India): Awaken to the smell of freshly baked gingerbread! At Hilton Chennai, the team spends more than 70 hours each year constructing a treasured holiday treat, a 22-by-15-foot edible gingerbread house. The charming house is made from 530 pounds (240 kilograms) of flour, 165 pounds (75 kilograms) of honey, 26 pounds (12 kilograms) of ginger powder, 1700 eggs, 90 kilograms of icing sugar and five liters of lemon juice. This year, the team will be kicking it up a notch by adding new ingredients to the grand hotel lobby’s center piece.

The life-sized gingerbread house at Hilton Chennai

DoubleTree by Hilton Glasgow Central (Glasgow, Scotland): Run, run as fast as you can and witness holiday magic as executive head chef Stewart Goldie transforms the entrance of DoubleTree by Hilton Glasgow Central into a massive, walk-through gingerbread house. Using approximately 600 pounds (300 kilograms) of gingerbread, 176 pounds (80 kilograms) of icing sugar and 44 pounds (20 kilograms) of chocolate, all bricks are baked by hand and layered to create the life-size holiday structure. Guests can also follow the lights and scent of warm, winter-spiced beverages to Glasgow’s holiday markets. Only a 10-minute walk away, guests can sample a bite of haggis and purchase holiday crafts.

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