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SF’s Most Decked Out Hotel Lobbies for the Holidays

Where to see giant sugar castles, gingerbread houses, twinkling lights and huge trees.
By - posted 12/1/2015 No Comment

Our good friends at BARTable spent some time checking out all the fancy hotel lobbies in SF to find out which were the most holiday-rific. 

There is no better way to get into the spirit of the season than by walking around Union Square taking in the festive lights and extravagant holiday décor.

Nobody does holiday cheer better than San Francisco’s downtown hotels, whose already lavish lobbies are even more fun to visit once they are elaborately adorned with oversized wreaths and twinkling lights. They really go all out, which is especially fun to see for those of us who don’t have quite as many halls to deck with boughs of holly at home … or anywhere to put a 40 foot tree.

While most of the hotels will dress their lobbies up during this season, Rebecca Wright of BARTable has made a short list of our favorites that really go all out in the name of holiday cheer.

The Fairmont

Even for those not easily impressed, the Fairmont’s giant two-story Gingerbread House built in the hotel’s Grand Lobby is guaranteed to drop a jaw faster than a one ton block of royal icing (which, coincidentally, is how much icing it takes to create the 22 foot high structure). As if creating an entire building out of home-baked gingerbread cookies wasn’t enough, there are several moving parts and a motorized train to add even more to the spectacle.

Kids can write a letter to Santa in the lobby’s “North Pole Nook” and brag about how good they’ve been to have not eaten any of the gingerbread masterpiece, no matter how tempting.

InterContinental Mark Hopkins

Starting Dec. 1, make yourself cozy in the decorated lobby and enjoy complimentary hot cider and gingerbread cookies. While you’re there, make sure to take the elevator to the Top of the Mark – you can walk the perimeter and enjoy views of all the city lights from nineteen stories up. If there is any chance to see Santa’s sleigh flying over San Francisco, it will probably be from up there. Photo credit: Robert Heil

Ritz Carlton

The Ritz Carlton knows how to celebrate, as evidenced by their towering 40-foot tree, as well as the wreaths, garlands and topiaries inside the lobby.

The Tree Lighting Ceremony takes places Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Watch as Santa Claus lights the 40-foot holiday tree outside the hotel at sundown! Enjoy free holiday beverages and treats as Dickens-era costumed carolers and trumpeters perform holiday favorites, while children visit and take photos with Santa.

Westin St. Francis Sugar Castle

Anyone with a sweet tooth will instantly get a cavity upon looking at the 12-foot tall Enchanted Castle made entirely from sugar. On display through Jan. 2, 2016 you can admire the delicate sugar art in the form of handcrafted colorful ornaments, elaborate gift boxes and tiny elves scaling the walls of the enormous rotating sugar castle. Photo credit: ABC 7

After staring at all the sugar, if you’re still in the mood for something sweet, visit the special St. Francis Sweet Shoppe in the Landmark Lobby. You’ll find a selection of freshly-baked decorative cookies, orange scented shortbread, gingerbread men and rice crispy treats, all available for purchase. Open Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 28 to Dec. 20, 2015; 11 am to 4:30 pm.

Author: Rebecca Wright of BARTable
Rebecca Wright lives in the Mission District of San Francisco and loves vintage clothing, sunshine bike rides and a good bowl of ramen. She can be found riding BART with her toddler and acting way too proud of the fact that he knows how to say “choo choo” when he sees the train pull up. She has a hard time saying no to baked goods and adventures, and likes to write about both.