These Hotels Sleigh When It Comes to Holiday Decor and Festivities
All we want for Christmas? A vacation. Though all of our favorite holiday songs romanticize being home for the holidays, are we wrong for wanting to use some of that time for a sweet, seasonal escape? You can still be with your family and get out of town. When relaxation is paired with festive activities and dining, you’ll experience the pinnacle of holiday joy. We’re taking you through the seasonal specials of eight California hotels for a holiday-inspired escape, complete with seasonal menus, holly jolly experiences, winter spa treatments and more.
Nestled on the water’s edge in Huntington Beach, Paséa Hotel & Spa combines luxury with the ease of California living. Our sunny state may not see winter flurries, but this oceanfront hotel knows how to spread the holiday cheer! With a full calendar of holiday events, Paséa makes Christmas in California feel like a fairytale. And it wouldn’t be the holidays in Huntington Beach without the grand Cool Yule Tree Lighting ceremony, which features a 30-foot tree that overlooks Pacific Coast Highway on the hotel’s Ocean Lawn. Locals and visitors can also enjoy Breakfast with Santa this season—think French toast sticks, scrambled eggs and steaming hot cocoa.
Sand meets ice at Paséa Hotel & Spa’s oceanfront ice rink, situated just steps from the shore. Skating by the sea, holiday cocktails and reservable fire pits make this a festive beachside treat for SoCal dwellers and vacationers. Get some holiday shopping done and join in on the Christmas cheer at Pacific City, located across adjacent to the resort, with holiday parties, cookie decorating and Christmas carols underneath the Yuletree!
Location: Huntington Beach
Carlsbad makes the perfect staycation for San Diego locals at any time of year, but a holiday escape in charming North County is made complete at The Cassara Carlsbad. You know the weather here makes it possible to take full advantage of the nearby 18-hole championship golf course and the property’s perfect pool deck, but adding on their holiday offerings in November and December takes the cake. This year, the Cassara Kitchen and Bar is serving up a seasonal menu featuring deep-fried pumpkin ravioli topped with brown butter and goat cheese, a wild mushroom chicken roulade entree with truffled Boursin and broccolini, and a mulled wine cocktail for their seasonal sip. They will also be hosting s’mores nights by their on-site fire pits, providing guests everything they need to make the bonfire favorite. Cozy up in one of the suites, which feature ample living space and amenities perfect for a family escape!
With a rustic charm like no other, historic San Juan Capistrano boasts adorable antique shops, upscale restaurants and a quintessential Southern California vibe. The Spanish-style Inn at the Mission San Juan is the perfect place to soak it all in—its luxurious, hacienda-style rooms draw inspiration from local history. Participate in bike-riding events through November and their staple Ysidora afternoon tea year-round, or book a spot at their special seasonal Christmas tea complete with Disney characters! Stay early in the season and catch their Christmas tree lighting on Dec. 2, or book your stay over the Christmas holiday to enjoy special prix fixe menus on Dec. 24 and 25.
Location: San Juan Capistrano
Slip away to the most scenic of snow days at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. It’s beautiful here at any time of year, but in the winter, the snowfall of the holiday season gives Lake Tahoe dreamy frosted mountains set against the bright blue lake water that doesn’t freeze over. Head out for a day of skiing with the hotel’s exclusive ski in and out access. Their full-service mountain concierge will store your gear for free overnight or hook you up with any rental equipment you might need. They even have The Northstar Resort Ski and Snowboard School on-site, offering private and group lessons, so you can hit the slopes with confidence. End your snow day with a well-deserved meal at any of the property’s five on-site restaurants.
Location: Truckee, Lake Tahoe
Known for its dazzling holiday allure, the Fairmont in San Francisco takes any holiday getaway to the next level with its glowing installations and jolly events every day of the week. Their lobby champagne bar opens on Nov. 24 and continues through the holiday season, offering libations for guests as they stroll through the hotel’s annual life-size gingerbread house display—created from real gingerbread! Book their holiday tea, complete with classic scones and pastries, during your trip, and one-up your sweets with a stay in a suite: Their exclusive Santa Suites are decked out with unique holiday decor for a one-of-a-kind seasonal stay!
Location: San Francisco
Celebrate the dazzle of the holidays in the desert this year! Palm Springs’ premier resort hotel goes all out for the holiday season—and has for the past 90 years. After all, it’s the spot where Frank Capra wrote the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life!” Treat yourself to special holiday menus during their Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners, boasting favorites like maple leaf duck breast and acorn squash bisque, or ditch the plate for some pampering with their special holiday spa treatments. Catch special events happening all season: There will be holiday movies on the lawn, chestnut roasting and cooking demonstrations happening every Saturday from Nov. 25 to Dec. 24!
Location: La Quinta
Escape to the best of both worlds at The Ranch at Laguna Beach, where endless hiking trails provide a rural escape and the beach is just 350 yards away. Reserving its most special events and services for the holiday months, guests can find a seasonal twist on whatever they’re after here, whether that’s a pumpkin apple autumn facial at the spa, holiday shopping or even pancakes with Santa on Dec. 17. The Ranch even hosts dinner on Christmas Day, offering slow-roasted prime rib and fresh local seafood à la carte specials, along with Harvest Garden seasonal offerings and sticky toffee pudding for dessert.
Location: Laguna Beach12/20
Hotel del Coronado drew in nearly every celebrity from Hollywood’s Golden Age, and this iconic San Diego hotel now attracts guests during the holiday season much the same. Located right on the picturesque sands of the Pacific, their ocean-adjacent ice skating rink is a holiday hit. And there’s the option to reserve rinkside service at their Frostbite Lounge, complete with holiday-themed food and beverages! Check their schedule for dates to snap photos with Santa and cozy up for movies on the beach, or stroll through their dazzling All That Jazz lightshow spectacular featuring snow flurries and dazzling lights flashing with holiday tunes, happening from Nov. 17 to Jan. 7!
Get in the spirit and give yourself plenty of space to roam at Carmel Valley Ranch, a 500-acre property in Wine Country with a focus on fun—and during the holidays, there’s a focus on festive fun. Get a little crafty and join in on their wreath making classes or gingerbread cookie decorating events or craft your own self-care skin products at their winter wonderland bath and body workshop! Prefer to skip the work? Welcome the holiday season with the Oak Tree Lighting on Nov. 25—we even hear that Santa will be there! If you’re around for the holidays, join in on their Christmas Day breakfast buffet or prix fixe Christmas Eve dinner featuring selections like Wagyu steak and seared sea bass with a glass of celebratory champagne!
Jaclyn is a sunshine chasing San Diego native with an extensive writing background. When she isn’t word-smithing, you can find her playing beach volleyball, skating the boardwalk, or on a rooftop enjoying a drink in the sunshine with her pals.