Seven Special Stays to Light Up the Festive Season
The festive season is one of the best times of the year to go away on a fantastic vacation to celebrate the holidays. With celebrations such as Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve, the end of the year is an important time when friends and families get together to share food and make memories. For the more than three-quarters (78%) of travelers whose motivation to travel is to boost their mood*, getting away in the holiday season during a time of celebration will definitely help in making spirits bright. To make this the best holiday season yet, we have delved into our more than 28 million listings across more than 159,000 destinations worldwide to select seven of the world’s most festive stays that go above and beyond with stunning decorations, delicious food and fun activities. From winter wonderland-themed hotels in Scotland and Zurich to beachside buffet feasts in Florida and Barbados, there’s an accommodation for everyone to have a merry time away.
The Royal Mansour Marrakech is a luxurious hotel famous for its lavish decor and glamorous vibe. At Christmas, the hotel takes it to the next level. The stay is transformed into a magical oasis full of the most beautiful decorations to celebrate the festive season. Each year the hotel selects a fantastical theme to inspire the stunning decorations with last year’s being ‘Sounds of Nature,’ and this year’s soon to be announced. The season is also marked with some exceptional food as festive menus and treats are prepared by talented Michelin-starred and pastry chefs from one of the hotel’s wonderful four onsite restaurants. The hotel is also a short walk away from the Bahia Palace and the famous Jemaa el-Fna square so guests can explore the famous Moroccan sites nearby with ease. For culture vultures, a Half-day Guided Cultural and Historical Tour of the city will allow travelers to discover the city’s heritage and traditions led by a local guide. After a day of adventure, guests can unwind with a dip in one of the hotel’s three pools or book a treatment in the spa for a relaxing treat.
Established in 1924, Gleneagles is a prestigious hotel resort in the heart of Scotland which becomes a winter wonderland during the festive season. Guests can embark on a brisk winter walk and return to the cozy interiors to warm up with afternoon tea by the roaring fire. The hotel’s festive program is out of this world - from ice skating on the hotel’s pop-up rink to reindeer visits from Santa’s special friends and Christmas film screenings in the cinema. For families visiting, pony trekking, arts and crafts, and a treasure hunt can all be enjoyed before toasting marshmallows and devouring chocolate after a day of fun - perfect for the 62% of parents who want to select child-friendly destinations with playful and fun activities.** The hotel offers cozy rooms with many overlooking the beautiful grounds. Guests can hope to wake up to a white Christmas and are guaranteed an award-winning Scottish breakfast to tuck into.
Surrounded by rolling hills with panoramic views of the snowy Alps and the city of Zurich, the Dolder Grand is an incredible hotel. Featuring vibrant and modern interiors full of contemporary art, the hotel decor transforms into a Christmas wonderland where guests literally feel like they are walking into a festive fairytale. The hotel rooms are decorated with stockings, beautiful wreaths, and charming garlands to create the most joyful atmosphere for the holidays, and some suites are even adorned with a special Christmas tree. The hotel has a Michelin-star restaurant that serves exceptional food and provides its very own festive brunch for guests to enjoy. The spa also offers rejuvenating and relaxing facials, massages, and body rituals and guests can admire the breathtaking view from the large heated outdoor pool or hot tub. Festive guests with a sweet tooth can indulge in the local delicacies by booking a Chocolate Tour in Zurich to sample the confectionery with a warming hot drink.
Just a short walk from Tiafru Square, the Temple House is a special place to stay during the holiday season in Chengdu. This Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay, which has a ban on single-use plastics and uses 100% renewable energy throughout the property, always aims to celebrate Christmas in a sustainable fashion. In 2021, the hotel created a stunning seven-meter Christmas tree constructed out of recycled glass bottles to create a beautiful and unique structure. Guests gathered in the luxury hotel’s courtyard for the lighting of the magnificent Christmas tree and a charity bazaar was hosted to give guests the opportunity to purchase some festive goods for a good cause. This is a fantastic opportunity for the 80% of travelers interested in community-minded travel to support local communities and traditions.** The Temple House features stylish modern interiors with a traditional Chinese twist, and guests can enjoy the library, fitness center, and boutique spa. To immerse themselves in the local culture and celebrate the holiday season in Chengdu, visitors can attend a Sichuan Opera Show at the Shufeng Yayun Teahouse. Guests can enjoy the evening entertainment with a warming cup of Sichuan tea as they watch a performance of actors, puppeteers, dancers, and acrobats in an unforgettable spectacle.
For the 42% of travelers who said they were likely to take a beach vacation this year*, the Breakers: Palm Beach is a luxury escape located on a private beach for a vacation in the sun this holiday season. This gorgeous resort on the seashore is perfect for an indulgent stay and is decorated to the max at Christmas with glistening lights, colorful ribbons, and beautiful bows. The hotel also offers delicious holiday dining options from afternoon tea serving buttermilk scones and delicate tea sandwiches to a holiday brunch on Christmas day itself serving a glorious buffet and unlimited champagne cocktails and bloody marys to toast the festive celebrations. For visitors with a sugar craving around the holidays, a candy store tour shows visitors how some of their favorite sweets are made and gives them a great discount to purchase some gifts for family, friends, or even themselves. Guests can enjoy a dip in one of the resort’s four heated oceanfront pools or five hot tubs and dine with friends and families during the holiday season in one of the phenomenal on-site restaurants. The hotel is also a Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay and invests a percentage of revenue back into sustainability or community projects, spreading some festive joy around all year long.
The Old Town of Cartagena is a festive hotspot with a buzzing atmosphere during the holiday period. The city comes alive on the cobblestoned streets with colorful giant baubles, luscious trees, and flower-filled balconies adorned with bright lights as street vendors sell gifts to locals and visitors alike. The Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena is a beautiful hotel housed in a former monastery dating from the 17th century and features rooms with balconies overlooking the hotel’s charming gardens or the vast Caribbean ocean. Guests can also enjoy a sunset cruise around Cartagena Bay for an unbelievable view of the city’s skyline and enjoy the boat’s open bar. The property has a Booking.com Travel Sustainable badge offering guests bike rental and parking so they can cycle around to explore the city, as well as providing information regarding local ecosystems, heritage and culture. Every Christmas Eve, the hotel hosts a heavenly family-style dinner in the traditional part of the hotel and serves delicious regional cuisine for friends and family to dig into. For guests staying throughout the holiday season and into the New Year, the hotel also throws a wonderful New Year’s Eve party with live music, superb food and drinks, and even fireworks. After the celebrations, guests can recuperate in the hotel’s picturesque spa and sauna and rejuvenate after some indulgent evenings of fun.
For Christmas in a peaceful, beachfront location Cobblers Cove in Barbados is a stunning spot for the festive season in the sun. Featuring exotic, luscious gardens and a freshwater swimming pool overlooking the Caribbean ocean, guests can enjoy free watersports such as windsurfing, sailing, and waterskiing for an unforgettable experience full of adrenaline. Snorkeling is also a popular activity to explore the expansive reef offshore and the beautiful rock formations of Harrison’s Cave are just a short drive away. The hotel is famous for its extravagant dinners on Christmas and Old Year’s Night, the traditional Caribbean name for New Year’s Eve. Mouth-watering food is served at the award-winning Camelot restaurant and a terrific program of fun activities and funky live music is bound to keep guests entertained and on the dance floor all night long. The hotel’s Old Year’s Night party is especially well known in Barbados for hosting a fun evening full of delicious cocktails, fun tunes, and beautiful fireworks.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 48,413 respondents across 31 markets (2,000 from USA, 1,864 from Canada, 1,999 from Mexico, 2,003 from Colombia, 2,005 from Brazil, 2,002 from Argentina, 1,020 from Chile, 1,777 from Australia, 818 from New Zealand, 1,999 from Spain, 2,002 from Italy, 1,998 from France, 1,990 from UK, 2,005 from Germany, 2,003 from Netherlands, 985 from Denmark, 999 from Sweden, 910 from Croatia, 918 from Switzerland, 1,986 from Belgium, 998 from Russia, 953 from Israel, 1,999 from India, 1,990 from China, 901 from Hong Kong, 1,775 from Thailand, 1,001 from Singapore, 975 from Taiwan, 1,800 from Vietnam, 1,757 from South Korea, 1,001 from Japan). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once for business or leisure in the past 12 months, and planning to travel in 2022 and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in January 2022.
**Travel Predictions 2023 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,179 respondents across 32 countries and territories were polled (including 1014 from Argentina, 1006 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 504 from Belgium, 1009 from Brazil, 503 from Canada, 1009 from China, 1010 from Colombia, 505 from Croatia, 505 from Denmark, 1010 from France, 1001 from Germany, 500 from Hong Kong, 1005 from India, 504 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1008 from Italy, 1003 from Japan, 504 from Mexico, 502 from The Netherlands, 1007 from New Zealand, 1009 from Portugal, 507 from Singapore, 1008 from South Korea, 1001 from Spain, 505 from Sweden, 508 from Switzerland, 500 from Taiwan, 504 from Thailand, 1006 from the UK, 1009 from the US and 504 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2022.