Photo Credit: Stéphane Danna/Realis
Calling all jetsetters: if you’re itching to use your passport this holiday season, here are four lovely European cities that are especially wonderful this time of year—along with our choices for the hautest hotel in each locale.
What to do: Germany is known for its incredible Christmas markets, but the oldest and largest is in Frankfurt. Visitors can get in the holiday spirit with bratwursts, mulled wine, and traditional marzipan while they enjoy all the markets have to offer, including a giant Christmas tree, a historic steam train and merry-go-round, a cozy log cabin, and trumpet fanfares from the balcony of famous St. Nicholas’ Church.
Where to stay: Villa Kennedy, a Rocco Forte Hotel – A historic family home in the city center, Villa Kennedy offers a cozy residential feel perfect for celebrating the holidays. Special holiday offers range from the ultimate holiday dinner with traditional Christmas Goose to Teddy Turndown Service for little ones.
What to do: During the holidays, the streets of Edinburgh are transformed by markets and festivals that take over St. Andrew Square and East Princes Street Gardens. Holiday travelers will be able to sample mulled wine and other tasty treats, or explore the traditional Scottish market in search of the perfect wool sweater for the chilly weather. The highlight of the festive celebrations is Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, Scotland’s world-famous New Year festival that features three days of spectacular events, incredible bands, and one of the biggest New Year firework displays in the world.
Where to stay: The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte Hotel – Guests staying at The Balmoral will experience the most glamorous black-tie Hogmanay celebration in Edinburgh, featuring the a performance of bagpipes and drums by the Royal Burgh of Stirling, champagne and canapes, a performance by a jazz trio and traditional highland dancers and elaborate dinner followed by dancing to one of the best ceilidh bands in the country and unparalleled views of the world-famous fireworks display from Edinburgh Castle.
What to do: Monte Carlo kicks off the holidays at the beginning of December when the ‘Lighting Ceremony’ transforms the city into a winter wonderland with snow-covered pines, opulent decorations, luxurious window displays and magnificent lights all across Monte Carlo. At the Café Promenade, treats such as pain d’epice, mendiants, and other holiday confectionaries can be enjoyed over a glass of mulled wine or traditional-style hot chocolate. A must-see is the Place du Casino, which will be decked out in the classic Russian Christmas colors of snowy white, red, and gold this year to pay tribute to the Year of Russia in Monaco. Festivities continue in Monte Carlo through to the new year, with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons ringing in 2016 with a special show at the Salle des Etoiles at Sporting de Monte-Carlo.
Where to stay: Hôtel Hermitage – Hôtel Hermitage, with its magnificent children’s carousel surrounded by a forest of snow-covered pines is the perfect emblem of Christmas magic. Guests can also enjoy the hotel’s famous afternoon tea among the hotel’s sparkling Christmas tree in La Salle Belle Epoque, featuring a selection of spiced hot chocolate, Christmas teas, gourmet pastries, chocolate fountains and more.
What to do: Vienna is at its best during the holidays with elaborately decorated shop windows and elegant festive lights that brighten up the city’s streets. Visitors can visit the massive ice skating rink at the Rathausplatz plaza, set before the town’s town hall building decorated in a vibrant display of Christmas lights. The plaza is also home to the city’s largest Christkindlemarkt, with over 140 vendors. Travelers can also book tickets to celebrate Christmas Mass at the Hofburgkapelle chapel, featuring the famous Vienna Boys Choir, or visit the Museumsquartier’s architect designed installations, where guests can enjoy six beautifully illuminated ice pavilions, live performed street art, festive drinks and music, and fun remote control car races.
Where to stay: Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel – With more than 100 years of history, Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel ensures an authentic stay with an ideal city center location next to the Vienna State Opera. In addition, Hotel Bristol features the city’s only hotel with an operating indoor fireplace, making it the perfect destination to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa on Vienna’s chilly Christmas nights.