Trip Tips: Hotels in New York, Chicago and Vancouver Get in the Holiday Spirit

- Joy Pecknold, Passport blog editor

No one does the holidays like luxury hotels (well, Martha Stewart might give them a run for their money). They’ve got the bells, baking, ten-foot trees and twinkling lights, and we don’t have to lift a finger. God bless you hotels, every one. We culled some in North America with cool Christmasy offerings. Click in.

New York City
The holidays and ice skating go together like rum and eggnog, so pick The Pierre’s Park Suite. Overlooking Wollman Skating Rink, it’s decorated in original wood engravings depicting 19th century scenes of people skating in Central Park. The rink itself is short five-minute walk away. Let the hotel’s Concierge team craft a family fun day befitting the season in and around the park.

You’d have a hard time find a better hotel headquarters than the Soho Grand Hotel for holiday shopping. There’s The Wired Store, a curated mecca of the coolest gagets and gear, just a few blocks away, and the Etsy pop-up store for all the handcrafted curios you didn’t have either the time or skill to make. Also, Treasure and Bond is nearby, a favorite of Kiwi’s Megan Montenaro, it’s stocked with great gifts, the complete profits of which benefit New York City children. Need all those treasures wrapped up? Guest of the hotel can take advantage of complimentary gift wrapping everyday except Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Another gem near shopper’s paradise is The James. Call on “James” to pick up your things, so you don’t have to schlep—they have a complimentary shopping bag messenger service within a 10 blocks radius of the hotel. Later, kick up your heels at their atmospheric rooftop bar with 360 degree views of the city. It’s a perfect place for a nightcap and to watch the snow fall (hopefully).

For a heaping helping of cozy, count on the Gramercy Park Hotel, with a fireplace and lots of nooks to nestle in. Their restaurant, Maialino, will have holiday specials and serves up a Winter Truffle Pasta Tasting Menu on Christmas Eve. Guests also get a key to the two-acre Gramercy Park—decorated for the winter holidays—and the only private park in Manhattan reserved for residents who live there and pay for access. On Christmas Eve they open the gates for the public to come in and enjoy caroling.

Remember what we said about the innate festiveness of skating? The Peninsula Chicago knows it. They’re set to debut a for-hotel-guests-only, 2,100 square foot ice skating rink on their rooftop any day now. Start practicing the triple salchow now.

Trump International Hotel & Tower got into the spirit too by turning their elevator into the edible Gingerbread Express. According to Hotel Chatter, pastry chef Patrick Fahy took five days and used 222 pounds of frosting, 178 pounds of sugar and 103 pounds of chocolate to create it. It would probably take a few sugar-crazed kids minutes to consume, but until then, it’s a sight to behold.

Speaking of baking, the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower Hotel is gathering some of the city’s best pastry chefs on December 17th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to compete in their Bûche de Noël bake-off complete with live band. To boot, the price of admission goes to charity.

Tomorrow, Friday, December 15th, the Fairmont Pacific Rim teams up with Shore 104.3 radio to give the gift of entertainment and give to charity with their “12 Bands of Christmas Food Drive” event. For 12 hours, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., their Lobby Lounge will feature top local musical acts to entertain those dropping off non-perishable food items.

The Shangri-La Vancouver pays homage to the European Christmas markets of yore with a modern version of their own. December 16th is the day for it, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., on the patio of Market by Jean-Georges restaurant. They’ll be one-of-a-kind crafts, jewelry, and edibles, including scrumptious samples to try. After that, book yourself in for some wrapping, and by that we mean a West Coast Wrap treatment at their phenomenal CHI spa.

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