The best NYC hotels for a luxury holiday experience
Image courtesy of the Plaza Hotel
In New York City, you can get it all in one place — one minute you can indulge in a $1 slice of pizza on the sidewalk and the next you can be in one of the finest hotels in the country (or even the world). For those looking to get into option two, what better time than the holidays to get a little fancy? We rounded up four ultra-luxury hotels in the city that go all out with holiday decor and experiences that guests and non-guests alike can enjoy.
768 5th Avenue
We’ll start with arguably the most iconic NYC hotel, especially during the holidays — the hotel even has its own tree-lighting ceremony. The Plaza’s holiday reputation is thanks in part to “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.” And, if you’re a big fan of the classic ‘90s flick, you can book a package that provides the Kevin McCallister experience. It includes a limousine ride to filming locations (including the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Carnegie Hall, and Radio City Music Hall), a large cheese pizza, and the “Home Alone” sundae (16 scoops of assorted ice cream, whipped cream, maraschino cherries, M&M’s, brownie bits, chocolate, caramel, and raspberry sauce). Rates vary depending on the type of room booked. The “Suitest Season of All” offer gives guests their very own in-suite 7-foot-tall decorated Balsam Hill tree!
But non-guests can enjoy all the hotel has to offer as well — even just walking through the lobby decorated in a red and white modern twist on the classic Christmas motif is a pleasure. The Palm Court offers afternoon tea daily (including Eloise Tea at The Palm Court with Santa on select dates) as well as a Christmas Day buffet and New Year’s Dinner. On New Year’s Eve, the Palm Court will host a Grand Fete. The historic Palm Court was built over 100 years ago and remodeled in 2013 to honor the original design, which was inspired by the greenery of nearby Central Park. “The room’s signature feature is a soaring stained-glass dome reminiscent of the original built in 1907,” the site describes.
Looking for a gift? The Plaza boutique is a shopping bonanza full of high-end gifts that will be sure to impress everyone on your list. Need some inspo? Santa will be on hand throughout November delighting guests and diners, and on Christmas Eve he will do a reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
700 5th Avenue
Located right on 5th Avenue in the heart of the holiday window displays, the Peninsula is a glamorous reprieve from a day of (window) shopping. Head in the Friday and Saturday nights before Christmas to catch a performance by Victorian carolers. Guests and non-guests can enjoy the music and see the elaborately decorated lobby and tree. For a special dining experience, Salon de Ning, the rooftop lounge has transformed into a winter wonderland with igloos for private and warm dining.
For those who really want an experience, the hotel has partnered for the first time with famed toy store FAO Schwartz to offer an over-the-top family stay. The two-night package includes a room full of toys from FAO Schwartz, “$500 of gifts from holiday shopping at FAO Schwarz,” an in-room candy cane scavenger hunt, a gingerbread-making kit, an in-room Christmas tree, and more. Holly Jolly New York Holiday Package includes a walking tour to see the window displays, VIP access to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, and an in-room tree.
Looking ahead to New Year’s Eve, the hotel is hosting a rooftop gala with a five-course dinner in the Clement Restaurant with champagne, wine, and a seafood tower. The dinner will be followed by a rooftop party at Salon de Ning with an open bar, dance floor, and midnight champagne toast. Among all the glitz and glamour of these pricey packages, the Peninsula is also offering a chance to give back, partnering with New York Children’s Center to donate a portion of proceeds from its afternoon tea service.
455 Madison Avenue
Lotte Palace New York’s grand entrance will draw you in. Behind wrought iron gates, a regal tree greets visitors at the courtyard entrance — a luxury in crowded NYC. Located a stone’s throw from the famed Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, the Lotte Palace is the perfect luxury retreat after a day of sightseeing. The grand hotel with views of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (where guests can get a VIP tour) will transport you away from the buzzing of Midtown into the Gilded Age (and they can also get a tour of a Gilded Age mansion). And you don’t have to be a guest to experience it.
Dating back to the 1850s, the site of Lotte Palace was once a residence called the Villard Houses — six brownstones surrounding a courtyard. It wasn’t until 1974 that the idea for a 55-story hotel called the Helmsley Palace Hotel was born; it opened in 1981. And then, in the early ‘90s it was purchased by no less than the Sultan of Brunei; in 2015 it became Lotte Palace. But enough history.
Holiday packages include 25% off on the Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes and 25% savings on tickets to Top of The Rock and a Rockefeller Center Tour. Holiday suites include an in-room tree and homemade cookies. Small (or big) guests can submit a letter to Santa and get one in return in their room. In the courtyard, enjoy the holiday bar serving hot chocolate and treats. Or, for a full meal on Christmas and New Year’s Day, there’s a “build your own Benedict” menu at the restaurant, Villard.
This one you can’t eat, but you can gawk at a miniature Lotte Palace made completely of gingerbread in the lobby. “This Palace holiday tradition takes our Executive Chef and pastry team more than 300 hours, along with 110 pounds of gingerbread dough and icing, to craft this sweet seasonal salute to our landmark building,” the website states. For something a little more chic and grown-up, have a martini in the Gold Room.
123 Nassau Street
Heading downtown, The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel is the epitome of stately elegance, and it has not one, but two large Christmas trees. One of them is located in the hotel’s famed bar, which is open to the public. “Celebrated for its extraordinary nine-story Victorian atrium and majestic skylight, The Beekman’s Bar Room – a chic, elegant venue adorned with vintage books, (is) dubbed the ‘living room of downtown Manhattan,’” a spokesperson said. Located within an 1881 landmark property, the hotel gives guests a glimpse back into a bygone era.
“The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel is … ‘where untold history meets timeless heritage…where bustling city streets sing proudly and quiet alleys tell tall tales.’ Our hotel is surrounded by iconic sites like the Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 Memorial, & One World Trade Center. Our other neighbors – Brookfield Place, The Seaport, Perelman Arts Center, and more – have spirited programming, which makes The Beekman the perfect holiday homebase,” Titus Negrescu, General Manager, said.
For nightlife and dining, visit nightclub Laissez Faire hosting jazz night every Wednesday, restaurant Le Gratin led by Michelin Starred Chef Daniel Boulud, and Temple Court by James Beard Award-Winning Chef Tom Colicchio. Special Christmas Eve and Day meals will be served at Temple Court, and in the Bar Room on those days, enjoy jazz hours and brunch on Christmas Eve.
“We absolutely love the winter time in New York City. Each of Manhattan’s neighborhoods create magical moments over the holidays and, for years, The Beekman gets decked out for all to enjoy,” added Negrescu.
“We look forward to putting up our magnificent trees and sparkling decor to further enhance the beauty of the hotel’s elegant spaces, making guests of The Beekman feel right at home during the holiday season.” And, speaking of those trees, guests (and non-guests) can leave a book under the tree to be donated.