‘Tis the season for romance. Whether you’re stealing a steamy kiss underneath the mistletoe or joyously singing along to Mariah Carey, you’ve got to admit that love has become as much a part of the holidays as decking the halls, trimming the tree, or baking gingerbread.
Imagine snuggling with your sweetie in front of a crackling fire or sipping eggnog overlooking a glistening, snowy terrain. No, we’re not just describing the opening of some Hallmark movie. These sort of magical, winter wonderland settings exist all across the globe.
Paris is synonymous with romance—and rightfully so. While the City of Love seduces anytime of year, it’s particularly captivating during the month of December when flurries fall and lights bedeck historic sites, including the Eiffel Tower. Adding to the joy of the season are stunning window displays at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps Haussmann. And when it comes to accommodations, Hotel Plaza Athénée is holiday headquarters. Satisfy your sweet tooth with an artisanal Yule log or take a spin around the on-site ice skating rink and check off every item on your holiday bucket list.
Jack Frost may be nipping at your nose, but the promise of frigid fun in Chicago is too good to pass up. Among the most time-honored traditions is the annual Christmas Around The World exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, plus singing carols in front of The Bean. All while The Blackstone invites guests to cozy up by the fire, bask in the glow of the twinkling lights, and enjoy an Old Fashioned in the lobby cocktail lounge.
This global finance center can definitely turn on the holiday charm. Zurich Main Station is transformed into one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in all of Europe—complete with 150 stalls and a Swarovski-trimmed tree. After shopping for last-minute gifts on Bahnhofstrasse, be sure to warm up with a cup of heisse schoggi (hot cocoa). Impress your boo by booking an exquisite room at The Dolder Grand. Set on the edge of Adlisberg forest, this famously festive hotel is the place to be for celeb sightings and afternoon tea.
New Forest, United Kingdom
With its storybook setting and holiday cheer, New Forest lures couples to celebrate Christmas in the English countryside. Don’t miss the colorful Byron Road lights and pantomime. Ever dreamt of whipping up homemade panforte and other tasty treats? Guests at Chewton Glen can participate in cooking and baking classes. When you’re all tuckered out from all the merriment, retire to the solitude of the Treehouse Hideaway Suite, where a private hot tub and idyllic views guarantee a sexy sojourn.
A far cry from snow-veiled ski resorts, Maui puts a Hawaiian-style twist on the holidays. The aloha spirit comes alive with island conviviality and whimsical decorations. And, of course, bikini weather in December is a major selling point. Wondering where to stay? The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is ground zero for mirth. If hula lessons and a life-size gingerbread house aren’t enough to fill your heart with glee, perhaps peppermint facials and festive tasting menus will do the trick.
Saratoga Springs, New York
The Empire State has some pretty epic getaways. But when the holidays roll around, we’ve got our sights set on Saratoga Springs. This small town comes up big in the yuletide gaiety department with enticing decorations and events galore. On the itinerary? Christmas concerts, horse-drawn carriage rides, and building snowmen (an activity sure to enhance nostalgia). Stop by the annual craft marketplace for crystal ornaments and ceramic figurines. And who can resist the scent of mulled wine at The Brentwood?