10 hotel gingerbread houses for your holiday dreams
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There seems to be a national-something-day for, well, everything, and some of them we can get onboard with more than others.
In the former category is National Gingerbread House Day, which falls on Dec. 12, 2021, and is dedicated to all things confectionary, candy and sweets-related when it comes to the construction of creative gingerbread houses that bring the holidays to life nearly every place you look.
The tradition dates to the 16th century in Germany. And now in many places around the world, of course, you can find gingerbread kits for sale to craft a DIY version nearly anyplace you shop you for food or art supplies. (Pro tip: go for one that comes pre-assembled if you’re a novice and a perfectionist.)
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If you’re looking for tips for building your own gingerbread house this year, Food Network Star Chef Jason Smith with Hungry Virtual Xperience has a few tips, including to make sure you use the best quality royal icing and decorating candies so your gingerbread houses not only looks good, but tastes delicious, too.
“Having fun is the number one rule when making and decorating gingerbread,” Smith adds, so don’t be too hard on yourself if yours doesn’t turn out picture perfect.
If you’d like see some show-stopping gingerbread houses this season, there’s no shortage of them decorating hotel lobbies this time of year.
We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite frosting-roofed wonderlands below that you can check out in sweet situ this festive season.
The Drake Hotel, Chicago
Practically since The Drake Hotel first opened in 1920, the lakeside Hilton property on the north end of the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago has been a go-to for getting locals and visitors in the holiday spirit. So it’s no surprise the hotel is going all out with not just a sole gingerbread house but rather an entire gingerbread village on display.
The culinary club at a local high school paired up with the hotel’s culinary team to incorporate 300 pounds of powdered sugar, 45 sheet pans of gingerbread, 20 pounds of meringue mix and 150 pounds of candy into what’s essentially a giant gingerbread neighborhood you’ve got to see to believe. Luckily it’s easy to spot, too — on display for all to drool over right in the hotel’s lobby.
Four Seasons Hotel Austin
Would you expect a gingerbread display in the Lone Star State to be anything but Texas-sized?
At the Four Seasons Hotel Austin, the hotel’s Gingerbread Village display is back and better than ever following a year’s hiatus during the 2020 holiday season. This year’s display is every kid’s confectionary dream –11 edible gingerbread houses that represent Santa’s Workshop, a dormitory for elves and a town square crowned with an edible Christmas tree that shows a live countdown to Christmas. You can find it on display at the hotel through Dec. 28, 2021.
Pasea Hotel & Spa, Huntington Beach, California
Guests revel in finding a candy and cookie version of their guest room on the facade of the gingerbread house on display at Pasea Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach, California. The pastry chefs used the hotel’s own likeness as their inspiration. And it’s all surprisingly realistic — as long as you discount, of course, the icicles dangling from the eaves and the hotel pool surrounded by billowing snow.
The gingerbread hotel is on display in the hotel’s lobby. And it’s worth sticking around after you see it, too, for a spin around the hotel’s oceanfront ice-skating rink, which stays open through Jan. 2, 2022.
Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans
We’re suckers for a holiday gingerbread house with a true sense of place, and this one created by the talented pastry chef at Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans fits the bill. Their impressive pastry creation is modeled after the Crescent City’s most recognized building — the iconic St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. The dazzling five-foot tall gingerbread and frosting creation is decorated with dainty icing wreaths and covered in fondant to magical effect.
Sea Island, Georgia
Guests always count on Sea Island, a five-star property that’s part of Georgia’s Golden Isles, to go all out in the gingerbread department during the holiday season. But after years of perfecting the art form of building life-sized gingerbread houses, the hotel has really outdone itself this year with a new, enormous and interactive advent calendar gingerbread display.
From Dec. 1 to Dec. 24, 2021, Sea Island’s elves open the “door of the day,” revealing an edible treat inside the resort’s life-sized gingerbread advent calendar,
There’s always an accompanying holiday activity for kids, too, that might include writing postcards to Santa, mocktails or tie-dying stockings. After every day’s reveal, you can also look forward to cookies and refreshments served from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, Bermuda
Moongates are the dreamy name for an iconic architectural element on the island of Bermuda. The round openings of stacked stone can be found on walls outside hotels, homes and parks and are both a national symbol and a sign of good luck to those who pass through them.
So we love that the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, Bermuda, deviates from the standard gingerbread house crowds in favor of constructing an annual gingerbread moongate at the hotel instead.
The hotel’s pastry chef is the artist behind the creation, which in past years has towered over 10 feet high and tipped the scales at more than 300 sugary pounds and promises to be just as grandiose this year.
El Conquistador Tucson
Santa Claus was master of ceremonies on Dec. 1, 2021, for the unveiling of a gingerbread locomotive at El Conquistador Tucson, a Hilton Resort in Arizona.
Hundreds of pounds of sugar, sweets, frosting and gingerbread have been fashioned into one of Arizona’s prettiest and most creative decorated cookie displays to create the sweet train. And you can bet the cookies and hot cocoa still flow despite the pleasant Arizona temperatures that beckon guests to cool off in the hotel’s mountain-backed swimming pool.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Orlando
It’s hardly revelatory that Disney hotels tend to take the cake (sorry, we couldn’t resist) when it comes to epic holiday decor, including gingerbread houses. And with so many gingerbread displays among all the garlands, trees and millions of lights in Orlando alone, you can get a virtual sugar high in a flash while touring the properties.
Disney’s Grand Florida Resort & Spa pours on the yuletide atmosphere particularly thick, and among the oodles of decorations throughout the property is an awe-inspiring life-sized gingerbread house in the hotel’s lobby made using a classic gingerbread recipe from Austria.
If you want to pick up some tips from the Disney decorating pros, they conduct daily decorating demos with the gingerbread house as a backdrop during the holiday season.
The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, florida
Talk about a sugary sacrifice. Every year, the pastry team at The Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes spends 700 hours creating and building the hotel’s centerpiece gingerbread house. And the shopping list for such a superb creation is a long one.
It takes some 226 pounds of butter, 57 pounds of molasses, 679 pounds of white and brown sugar, five pounds of cinnamon, more than 2,000 eggs, almost a ton of flour and 350 pounds of icing to make this monumental centerpiece.
Happily, the resulting gingerbread house is nothing short of a holiday wonder, along with the 96 candy ornaments and angels and 100 gingerbread men and women surrounding it.
Waldorf Astoria Chicago
Calling all gingerbread fashionistas. Coco’s Waldorf Sleigh, on display at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, was created as a nod to French fashion icon Coco Chanel, whose timeless style was also the inspiration for the hotel’s Art Deco lobby.
You can find pastry fashion touches in the black and white pearl candy and white icing along the edge of the gingerbread sleigh that the hotel’s pastry chef and team designed to conjure Coco’s classic pearl necklace. Black gingerbread cookies set against white fondant break from the traditional holiday mold, too, to match the hotel’s iconic decor.
Featured photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
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