7 Luxury Hotels With the Most Incredible Edible Holiday Decor

Photo courtesy of Fairmont San Francisco

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” Andy Williams sang it in 1963, and it still holds true today. One of the things that makes the holiday season so wonderful is how the ordinary gets transformed with lights and decorations, giving everything a magical feel. But more than just decking the halls with tinsel and a Christmas tree, some luxury hotels look to their chefs to take their holiday décor to the next level. 

With months of work, masses of creativity, and thousands of pounds of flour and sugar, these seven hotels have created some of the most incredible, and incredibly delicious, displays out of gingerbread and chocolate.

Photo courtesy of Omni Grove Park Inn

The Omni Grove Park Inn in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of downtown Asheville started their small gingerbread house competition in 1992, and it’s become the nation’s largest gingerbread house competition with chefs and foodies from around the country participating and judging and $40,000 in prize money this year. The 2023 winner was an aunt and niece team from North Carolina who won with their entry “Christmas at the Tongkonan.” The entries will be on display through January 2, 2024, plus there is a life-size gingerbread version of the hotel itself in the Great Hall. 

If you want to keep the holiday spirit going, visit their spa to get a gingerbread-themed pedicure.

Photo courtesy of Fairmont San Francisco

The Fairmont San Francisco has a stunning lobby year-round, but during the holidays, it’s transformed as hundreds of hours of work are put into a 2-story, nearly 2-ton life-size gingerbread house. And it leaves the entire place smelling delightfully of sugar and spice. The hotel’s traditional afternoon tea, which has been in place since the hotel opened in 1907, takes on a holiday theme in December with treats like winter spiced scones, Christmas macarons, and eggnog panna cotta.

Photo courtesy of The Broadmoor

Each year, only a select few know what the annual gingerbread display will be at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. In the past, it’s been a train, a vintage car, and in 2023, they’re adding another form of transportation to the mix — “A Lightning Bug Canopy Boat.”

The gingerbread boat is 16-feet-long and it took 1,801 eggs, 475 pounds of flour, and over 950 pounds of powdered sugar to make. Featuring a life size Santa taking a ride next to a pair of swans, the creative confection has ties to the hotel’s history. When it first opened in 1918, canopy boats were available for guests to enjoy on the resort’s lake and two new electric versions are set to debut the summer of 2024.

Photo courtesy of Caribe Royale

Meet Santa in chocolate form at Caribe Royale in Orlando. The larger-than-life chocolate Santa, sleigh, and reindeers fills the lobby with the heavenly scent of chocolate. But why just build one massive chocolate display when you can build two? The Caribe Royale also has a 32-foot-long North Pole Express in the lobby. Between the two detailed displays, they used 3,600 pounds of chocolate.

If the aroma has your mouth watering — and it will! — they’ve got you covered with their hot cocoa chocolate trifle, made with layers of chocolate cake, marshmallows, and whipped cream. 

Photo courtesy The Houstonian Hotel, Club, and Spa

The most elaborate holiday decorations in all of Houston, perhaps even all of Texas, can be found at The Houstonian Hotel, Club, and Spa. The showcase is the “Merry Mansions” display in the Great Room Lobby, which reimagines four of the iconic landmark estates of Houston’s North Post Oak Lane and the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens in six-foot-tall gingerbread. The elaborate creation took three months and a combination of 200 pounds of gingerbread dough, 275 pounds of candy, and 150 pounds of royal icing.

Photo courtesy of The Benson Portland

The Benson Portland has been unveiling delightful and delicious gingerbread displays for over 50 years. This year’s design by pastry chef David Diffendorfer is a recreation of Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle. The same fairytale-looking castle inspired Walt Disney to create Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the 1950s. The stunning creation was made with 150 pounds of gingerbread, 20 pounds of chocolate, and 50 pounds of marzipan.

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resorts

The Victorian gingerbread house in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a magnificent structure of glittering sugar and spice built from over 10,000 pieces of gingerbread with cinnamon clouds puffing from the chimney. It took 500 hours to bake and 480 hours to decorate. For many Disney fans, visiting the hotel lobby to see the enormous display is an annual tradition, one that goes back over 20 years.

As you marvel at the incredible details — there are 24 hidden Mickeys to find — you can enjoy your own gingerbread Mickey cookie or cookies ‘n’ cream Christmas Tree.

Kristin Conard

Kristin Conard is a freelance writer living and working in Santa Cruz, California. She studied creative and critical writing for her master's degree from the University of Sussex in Brighton, England. She teaches writing to undergraduates, and when she's not teaching, she's traveling and always on the lookout for good food and soft adventure (paddle boarding, yes. jumping out of planes, no). ...(Read More)

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