8 Nights of Hanukkah Hotels
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Like a bag of shiny gelt (gold-wrapped chocolate coins), it's a treat to gather with your extended mishpachah (family) for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which this year spans December 16-24. Based on the eight U.S. cities with the largest Jewish populations, TPG Assistant Editor Melanie Wynne suggests a menorah's worth of hotels to inspire celebrating the Festival of Lights with out-of-town loved ones.
Largely points properties, the following hotels in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami Beach, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Tel Aviv presently have availability during Hanukkah. Remember that you can maximize your chosen stay by using credit cards like the Marriott Premier, IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Hyatt Credit Card, Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card and Hilton Honors Card from American Express.
1. Hotel Indigo Brooklyn. Though Jews live all over New York City, a dense population live throughout Brooklyn's brownstone neighborhoods, making this Brooklyn Heights hotel a beautifully central Hanukkah stay in the borough. Close to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, and three subway lines, the friendly, 128-room Hotel Indigo offers free Wi-Fi, artsy furnishings, relatively large guest rooms for the Big Apple (some with kitchenettes), and if you're willing to brave the winter cold, good views from the rooftop deck. Rooms start at $152 or 35,000 IHG Rewards per night.
2. InterContinental Los Angeles Century City. This 361-guestroom high-rise hotel is surprisingly elegant and romantic for its business district location near a popular shopping mall, and features a rooftop spa, an outdoor heated infinity pool, and backyard garden patio. Many room views spread far across Los Angeles; to glimpse the Pacific, ask for a high floor facing the back of the hotel. Close to the heavily Jewish neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, Beverlywood and West L.A., you'll be close to several temples, chabads, Jewish delis and kosher restaurants, and quite possibly your aunt and uncle's condo. Rooms start at $289 or 40,000 IHG Rewards points per night.
3. Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel. The bulk of Chicago's Jewish community lives in its North Shore suburbs, such as Lake Forest, Skokie and Northbrook. In the latter, you'll find this comfortably swanky 382-room, three-suite hotel, which has three on-site restaurants, an indoor heated swimming pool and close proximity to a half-dozen temples. Rooms start at $79 or 20,000 Marriott Rewards points. Starting January 15, 2015, Marriott Rewards members will receive free Wi-Fi at the property, but until then, you'll pay between $9.95-$13.95 per day.
4. Fontainbleau Miami Beach. Close to a historically Jewish district of Miami Beach, this fancy beachside hotel is a popular during the High Holidays and Passover—so why not Hanukkah, as well? Originally opened in 1954 on Collins Avenue's Millionaire's Row, this fully renovated, 20-acre, 1,504-guestroom oceanfront property features a huge outdoor poolscape, 40,000-square-foot Lapis spa, 12 on-site restaurants and lounges, and LIV nightclub--just in case your bubbe and zayde like to dance. Rooms start at $444 per night; if you'd prefer a points property that's less expensive, check out the nearby Blue Moon Hotel from Marriott's Autograph Collection.
5. Palace Hotel, San Francisco. The Jewish community in San Francisco doesn't have much of a core, but is instead peppered throughout much of the city and across the Bay into Oakland and Berkeley, so you might as well stay somewhere with beautiful architecture, stunning views and close proximity to a BART station. Set just a few blocks from Union Square's shopping and holiday ice rink, one of the best features of this Beaux-Arts grande dame hotel is the atrium-ceilinged Garden Court Restaurant, which despite being decorated to the hilt for Christmas, would still make a lovely place to gather for a Hanukkah toast. Rooms start at $182 or 12,000 SPG Starpoints per night.
6. Hyatt at the Bellevue, Philadelphia. Much of Philly's Jewish community has spread to the suburbs, but a vibrant presence remains in and around the Center City, where you'll find this glamorous 1904 French Renaissance hotel, which has 172 guestrooms, retail shops on the ground floor, four on-site restaurants, a full-service salon and spa, and a 93,000-square-foot fitness center. In addition to being close to the Walnut Locust Metro stop and two PATCO train stations, the Bellevue is walking distance from the Etz Chaim Center for Jewish Studies and Rittenhouse Square's Conservative Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel. (For a calendar of Hanukkah events in the Philly area, click here.) Rooms start at $209 or 15,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night.
7. Courtyard Boston Brookline. Set in cozy Coolidge Corner in the heart of Brookline, home to one of Greater Boston's largest Jewish communities, this airy, comfortable eight-story brick hotel has 187 rooms, a small indoor pool and fitness center, and is near five temples as well as the Coolidge Corner station on the MBTA's Green Line. Like most Courtyard properties, the lobby has a bistro counter that serves three daily meals, Starbucks coffee, and wine and beer beside a sprawl of casual public seating areas with a courtyard view. Nightly rates start at $169 or 35,000 Marriott Rewards points.
8. Embassy Suites Washington, D.C. at the Chevy Chase Pavilion. This well-appointed mid-range property, which features two onsite cafe/bars and an indoor pool, just completed a full-scale renovation in October 2014. Set in Northwest D.C.'s Friendship Heights area, the hotel is surrounded by pockets of a large Reform Jewish community, celebration-friendly restaurants, and shopping malls (e.g., Chevy Chase Pavilion, Mazza Gallerie, etc.). The adjacent Friendship Heights Metro station connects you directly to Bethesda, Silver Spring and downtown D.C. via the Red Line. Rooms start at $189 per night, and while you can't redeem Hilton Honors points here during the holiday, a special nightly rate of $198 allows you to earn 2x bonus points per night.
And because no menorah is complete without a shamas to light the other candles:
9. Sheraton Tel Aviv. You could do worse for Hanukkah than to visit the Holy Land and lounge beside the sparkling Mediterranean. One of the most stylishly renovated points properties in this seaside Israeli city, the 318-guestroom high-rise property is perched on the lively Tel Aviv-Jaffa beach promenade and features four on-site eateries, complimentary Wi-Fi and a huge spa that includes two Dead Sea treatment rooms and a hammam-style bath. Note that unlike other Starwood properties, this Sheraton doesn't automatically offer the usual perks extended to SPG Platinums (e.g., confirmed suite upgrades, comped breakfast, etc.); nightly rates start at $227 or 12,000 Starpoints.
May your Hanukkah be full of dreidel playing, latke eating—and safe travels!