The 2022 Top 25 Historic Hotels Worldwide Holiday Traditions and Spectacular Displays Is Announced

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#culture–Historic Hotels Worldwide® represents over 300 of the finest, most authentic historic hotels in over 40 countries. In December and January, these historic hotels, inns, chateaus, castles, and haciendas are illuminated in the local fashion for the season, creating beautiful spaces for guests to celebrate one or more of the festive holidays and observances that fall in this time of the year. The historic hotels featured in the 2022 Top 25 Historic Hotels Worldwide Holiday Traditions and Spectacular Displays host extraordinary parties, family art activities, one-of-a-kind cultural performances, religious services, charitable campaigns, and festive afternoon teas for the Winter Solstice, Hannukah, Christmas season, and/or New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Many put up spectacular displays of Christmas or holiday trees, light exhibitions, magnificent gingerbread houses and hotel replicas, and greenery. The cultural diversity found around the world means booking a stay or visit at a Historic Hotels Worldwide hotel guarantees a diversity of opportunities to carry on personal traditions or to discover new ones. As 2022 comes to a close, Historic Hotels Worldwide wishes travelers and explorers Bonne Année! Frohes neues Jahr! Veselý Silvestr! Bliadhna Mhath Ùr! Happy New Year!

Dromoland Castle Hotel (1014) Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare, Ireland

“Nollaig Shona Duit” means “Happy Christmas” in Irish Gaelic, and guests of Dromoland Castle Hotel (1014) in Newmarket-on-Fergus, Ireland, do hear it often between December 12 and January 6. The hotel embraces a traditional Irish Christmas every year to share ancient customs and new traditions with guests. The halls are decked with deep green holly laden with crimson berries, traditionally hung to represent a wish for better luck for the coming year. Christmas trees are a relatively new custom in Ireland. Mistletoe is another ancient tradition that can be spotted at Dromoland Castle Hotel. Ancient Celts believed mistletoe possessed magnificent healing powers. It was banned for centuries by Christians, as it was seen as a symbol of Paganism. Now incorporated into the Christian holiday, it symbolizes peace and goodwill–or somewhere to steal a kiss! One of Dromoland Castle Hotel’s newer traditions is also a spectacular display: the gingerbread house. Every year, on December 12, the hotel erects its gingerbread display, a beloved tradition executed this year by Head Pastry Chef Chandima Gamage. On St. Stephen’s Day (December 26, also called Boxing Day), the Wren Boys visit the castle to perform traditional dancing and singing, dressed up in straw suits and motley garb to raise money for charity. The tradition of the Wren Boys is centuries, if not over a thousand, years old and can be traced to both Pagan and Christian traditions. Dromoland Castle Hotel was inducted into Historic Hotels Worldwide in 2011 and was awarded the Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence Historic Hotels Worldwide Sustainability Champion in 2022.

Quinta Real Puebla (1593) Puebla de Zaragoza, Puebla, Mexico

Originally constructed as the Convent of the Immaculate Conception, Quinta Real Puebla is a magnificent historic hotel today that sits in the heart of Puebla, Mexico, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in Spanish Colonial style, Quinta Real Puebla features vibrant courtyards, original religious architectural details from its past, and a staff who are passionate about celebrating the hotel’s heritage to this day. During December, Quinta Real Puebla hangs strings of lights and decks the halls to create a magical holiday environment for its guests. In addition to a magnificent Christmas tree in the main courtyard, the hotel also decorates with a spectacular display of a Christmas star-shaped, seven-point piñata, which was made in the town of Chignahuapan, Puebla. Popular around the world today and appearing in many forms, the piñata is an indigenous Mesoamerican tradition that merged with European Christianity after the Spanish conquest. The spectacular red and cream-colored piñata at Quinta Real Puebla is for decoration, but they are an important part of Christian Las Posadas celebrations, a Mexican tradition commemorating the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey as they searched for lodging before Jesus’ birth. At a Posada celebration, children will gather in a circle and take turns to try to hit it. When it breaks, candy falls. A traditional piñata shape, like the one at the historic hotel, has seven peaks. This shape represents the “seven deadly sins,” which celebrants seek to destroy by whacking it with sticks. The candies represent the gifts of overcoming evil.

Hacienda de Los Santos (1600s) Alamos, Sonora, Mexico

Hotels are perhaps one of the most appropriate places to celebrate the Mexican tradition of Las Posadas (“the inns” in Spanish) and the historic Hacienda de Los Santos (1600s) in Alamos, Mexico, hosts one every Christmas Eve. An important part of Las Posadas celebration is a dramatization of the Christian story of Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem, looking for lodging. At Hacienda de Los Santos, the Posada features three guitarists who lead a long procession from the hotel through a nearby neighborhood. The procession is Joseph leading the burro (donkey) carrying Mary, followed by Three Wise Men, and then around 75 hotel guests. The guests follow the Posada actors through Mary and Joseph’s journey until they arrive back at the hotel, where baby Jesus arrives. Hacienda de Los Santos’ spectacular holiday display is a nativity scene. Each year, the hotel builds a manger with palm sides and a roof, large enough for Joseph, Mary, and a baby to fit inside. The tradition can be traced back to the holiday planning of early Catholic friars near Mexico City and today it is a custom in Mexico, with variations of the tradition in among Catholics in the Philippines, the United States, and some other Latin American countries. The hotel embraced this tradition 20 years ago. After Posada, visitors have a toast and enjoy a four-course meal.

Pulitzer Amsterdam (1600s) Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Dutch capital is beautiful year-round, but winter is one of the most magical times to visit, as the city glistens with lights and is often covered in snow. It is the perfect place for a winter escape. The Pulitzer Amsterdam (1600s) hotel is set within a row of 17th and 18th-century canal houses in one of Amsterdam’s finest neighborhoods, making an ideal base for exploring the city’s Christmas markets or spending an afternoon ice-skating on Museum Square with views of Rijksmuseum. Each year, Pulitzer’s impressive courtyard garden at the center of the hotel is transformed into a winter wonderland. Known as Pulitzer’s Winter Garden, it is decorated with twinkly fairy lights and a spectacular Christmas tree, and it is best enjoyed under warm cozy blankets on the heated terrace. Pulitzer’s Winter Garden is a tradition dating to the time when the hotel reopened in 2016 with new inner gardens and glass corridors, inspired by Amsterdam’s hidden inner gardens tucked away behind the famous canal houses. This winter, the historic Pulitzer Amsterdam invites guests to experience a new tradition: “Floating Christmas,” a private tour of the canals aboard the hotel’s private historic saloon boat, The Tourist, with festive nibbles and drinks, as well as the chance to see Amsterdam’s Light Festival.

The Great House Antigua (1670) Saint Peter, Antigua and Barbuda

The historic hotel at The Great House Antigua is located on the island of Antigua, which is part of the independent nation of two islands: Antigua and Barbuda, one of the most culturally diverse places to visit in the Caribbean. The island’s indigenous Amerindians, believed to be primarily Caribs, resisted colonization by the French and Spanish for over a century before the English settled the islands in 1632, bringing British traditions and religion with them. The Great House Antigua was built in 1670 to be the manor of a sugarcane plantation. Enslaved Africans became the main source of forced agricultural labor in the next century, but some of the earliest 17th century settlers and agricultural workers were Irish emigres shipped in from St. Kitt’s. It is believed to be from this early group that the traditional hotel’s Old Years Night was introduced to the island and the hotel. Old Years Night–December 31–is a major celebration of the year past across Antigua. At The Great House Antigua, guests are welcome to join the staff as they walk through the estate on Old Year’s Night and hit bread on the doors around the hotel estate. According to the old Irish tradition and superstition, striking at or throwing cake or bread on a door keeps away bad luck and hunger in the new year. The tradition at The Great House can be traced back to the 1960s, when it was a private manor. The Old Years Night celebration ends with fireworks and live music.

Hotel Claude Marbella (1650) Marbella, Spain

Located in the luxurious resort city of Marbella, Hotel Claude Marbella (1650) occupies the former summer residence of Eugénie de Montijo, Empress of France and wife of Napoleon III. The 17th-century manor house, built in 1650, has been fully converted to provide all the comforts contemporary guests require. Guests that stay at Hotel Claude Marbella on January 5 are perfectly situated to observe the Los Reyes (“The Three Kings”) holiday celebrations that afternoon and evening. Observed and celebrated across Spain, the holiday honors the day when the “Three Kings” arrived in Bethlehem to honor young Jesus. Celebrants observe the day through gift-giving, parades, and sweets for children. The modern celebrations of an ancient observance can be traced back to the town of Alicante in 1876. In 21st century Marbella, the festivities begin around midday, when the city’s mayor welcomes the Three Kings as they step off a boat at the Puerto Deportivo. In the evening, there is a carnival-like processional in the Old Town along Avenida Ricardo Soriano. Roads are closed on January 5 in Marbella, so plan accordingly. The hotel is about a 20-minute walk from Puerto Deportivo, where guests can wait for the Three Kings to arrive. Avenida Ricardo Soriano is half the distance, only a 10-minute walk between the hotel and the parade route. Hotel Claude Marbella puts on a display for its guests, too: inside, the historic hotel is adorned with beautiful fairy lights and a Christmas tree, with holiday music playing throughout the holiday season.

Hacienda Labor de Rivera (1700) Teuchitlán, Jalisco, Mexico

The Mexican resort at Hacienda Labor de Rivera dates back to the mid-16th century, when a settlement was founded by Spanish colonists within the old town of Tepechitlán, Jalisco. Celebrations of Jesus’ birth began on the estate then, as the Spanish families living there brought Catholicism with them and established a chapel there in the late 1500s. Today, Hacienda Labor de Rivera carries on a Mexican tradition that dates back to the colonial era, Las Posadas. It is a commemoration of Mary and Joseph’s difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and their search for a shelter where Mary could give birth to Jesus. It is traditional throughout the country to do this by praying and singing, ending with breaking a piñata. Out of respect for the beliefs of the hotel’s guests, there is no prayer involved at Hacienda Labor de Rivera’s Posada. The 2022 Posada is a tradition going back 10 years. Guests are invited to sing and help break the piñata, but not pressured to participate more than they are comfortable. Many guests enjoy simply observing the spectacle. For a spectacular display, the hotel presents an interactive Nativity scene where all guests can participate by adding something to the display. Hacienda Labor de Rivera also offers holiday treats, including Christmas punch and buñuelos, doughy fried treats often served around the world during Christmas, Hanukkah, and Ramadan holidays. In Mexico, buñuelos are made with a wheat-based yeast dough, often flavored with anise, that is thinly rolled, cut or shaped into individual pieces, then fried and finished off with a sweet topping.

Hotel Maximilian’s (1722) Augsburg, Germany

According to oral tradition, the first iteration of the Hotel Maximillian’s (1722) in Augsburg, Germany, appeared in the 1490s, when it offered accommodation to overnight travelers from across Europe. In 2022, the hotel is celebrating 300 years of hospitality, and, when asked about its time-honored holiday traditions, the staff are quick to tell a story that dates to its earliest recorded existence: the story of the Four Abyssinian (Ethiopian) Monks. In the winter of 1495, when the historic inn was diagonally opposite to where its current building stands today, four holy men of the Abyssinian Church were traveling through Germany during a harsh winter. According to legend, they sought shelter but were turned away at every door. On the outskirts of Augsburg, one of the men lost his life to the merciless conditions, but the other three continued to search for help. The historic hotel’s innkeeper Konrad Minner brought the three survivors back to his inn and aided in their recovery through the remainder of winter. Before their departure the following spring, the three were immortalized in a blackboard sketch that then became the inn’s sign. Three terracotta busts depicting the monks, original creations by sculptor Ehrgott Bernhard, hang in the lobby today. Carrying on this spirit of charity over the centuries, one contemporary tradition at the hotel is its Christmas wishing tree. Children from the Frère-Roger Augsburg Children’s Centre are invited to write a wish for a certain gift on a letter and place the letter on the tree. Staff and guests of the hotel are encouraged to take one of these letters and fulfill the wish of a child. On Christmas Eve, every child receives their Christmas present. The tradition began in 2016, and the hotel considers it part of its investment in the happiness and future of the city. Hotel Maximilian’s was inducted into Historic Hotels Worldwide in 2019 and won the Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence Historic Hotels Worldwide Best Social Media of a Historic Hotel in 2022.

The Mozart Prague (1770) Prague, Czech Republic

Originally constructed as the private residence of Count Pachta, The Mozart Prague (1770) is a family-owned boutique hotel located in the most historic district of Prague, Czech Republic. Its coveted location across the iconic Charles Bridge affords direct views over Prague Castle and the Vltava River. Christmas celebrations at the palace date to its founding in the late 18th century when Pachta organized extravagant parties for his friends and illustrious guests, including composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart himself or author G.G. Casanova. The contemporary holiday season at The Mozart Prague aligns with the Christian Advent, a period of several weeks of reflection over the first four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day. The 2022 holiday season was kicked off during the first week of advent (November 25-27), when the hotel hosted its own Christmas Market, to support the charity Act for Others. Retaining majestic glamour with ornate décor, crystal chandeliers and ceiling frescoes, The Mozart Prague holds a unique reputation as an artistic haven. During the season, it hosts festive fashion shows and an orchestra symphony, and a spectacular Christmas Lighting Ceremony each year. The Mozart Prague’s holiday decor can be viewed within its beautiful courtyard, where an 18 ft. tall Christmas tree is decked among garlands and ornaments all around the building. There are astounding fairy lights covering the front facade and both courtyards, and many smaller but eminently charming Christmas trees can be spotted in the restaurant, cafe, and at reception. The Mozart Prague creates a festive and welcoming atmosphere, so guests can enjoy the holiday season in the heart of Prague with all its winter magic.

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar (1780) Bagac, Philippines

Set on the sandy banks of Bagac Bay, Philippines, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar (1780) is a prestige collection of historic Spanish-Filipino Colonial structures. Founded with the mission to celebrate and preserve cultural Filipino heritage, the resort at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar sponsors a variety of magnificent displays and traditions during the Christmas season. The lead up to Filipino Christmas lasts for nine days, the Roman Catholic novena that starts on December 16 and ends on December 24. The church within the resort, the Sanctuario de San Jose, also conducts an evening mass, Simbang Gabi (Filipino for “night mass”), every evening at 6 p.m. Guests can attend the mass while at the resort and partake on the Filipino traditional food at the food kiosks stationed near the church. Bibingka (a rice cake made with sugar and coconut milk, baked in an oven) and Puto Bumbong (purple rice steamed in bamboo shoots, served with toppings like butter, sugar, and coconut shavings) will also be available all day at the La Parilla for the guests to try signature Christmas snacks. A spectacular, glowing artificial Christmas tree stands in the resort’s Plaza Mayor de Tobias. It is made of locally-sourced materials and is 27 ft. tall, 15 ft. in diameter, and it is covered in colored lights. The season commenced on December 2, 2022, when the tree was first illuminated in a ceremony that was followed by a performance by Las Casas Cultural Dancers and Teatro Las Casas actors.

Antica Dimora Suites (1820) Crete, Greece

Set on the northern coast of the Greek island of Crete, Antica Dimora Suites (1820) offers guests a winter holiday with access to the sunny, sandy beach of Rethymno. Antica Dimora Suites is in a Greek “Newer Monument” building that was established in the 19th century by a wealthy Turkish businessman. His family sold it to a Greek family, the Chobitis family, after World War I and the Chobitis family has managed the building as a historic hotel since 2006. Antica Dimora Suites is a luxurious but small hotel, and an intimate getaway. Because of the personal touch approach to hospitality, early in the holiday season it is traditional for guests to participate in decorating the Christmas tree and “decking the halls” of the historic hotel as they might in their own homes. During the decorating activities, guests are offered traditional Greek sweets, such as kourabiedes (almond cookies covered in powdered sugar) and melomakarona (honey-drenched cookies with flavors of oranges and cinnamon). The tree remains decorated until January 7, the day after the Christian Feast of the Epiphany. The hotel is located within the historic Old Town, where guests are mere steps away from public holiday decorations, shopping, and street events.

Great Southern Killarney (1854) Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland

The Great Southern Killarney has been a focal point of the historic town of Killarney, Ireland, in County Kerry since it opened in 1854 to serve passengers of the new railway lines that passed through the town. One tradition that has carried through the centuries throughout the year is Afternoon Tea, which has been served in Great Southern Killarney since Victorian times and always receives a holly-jolly twist during the Christmas season. In December, the Festive Afternoon Tea is served beneath the gold-gilded ceiling of the hotel’s elegant Garden Room restaurant. Festive Afternoon Tea includes a complimentary glass of warming mulled wine along with festive treats including cranberry scones, gingerbread, and mince pies. On Christmas Eve, guests are invited to a traditional concert of Christmas carols in the historic Grand Foyer. The evening culminates with treats of warm mulled wine and mince pies, a traditional British Christmas dessert pastry containing a mixture of dried fruits, nuts, spices, and (sometimes) animal fat. On Christmas Day, the Great Southern Killarney provides more musical entertainment for grownups and hosts Father Christmas (Santa Claus), who arrives in costume with gifts for younger guests.

Grand Hotel Huis ter Duin (1885) Noordwijk aan Zee, Netherlands

Just a short distance between Amsterdam and The Hague, the Grand Hotel Huis ter Duin (1885) in Noordwijk aan Zee, Netherlands, is a historic seaside retreat that has been offering fantastic views of the North Sea for more than a century. Since 2009, the hotel has celebrated the December holidays with a massive Christmas tree in the hotel garden. At the beginning of the month, the hotel hosts a spectacular tree-lighting ceremony with a different ambassador visiting each year to illuminate the tree. According to tradition, the Christmas Tree Lighting Ambassador is kept secret until the last moment, and, during the ceremony, the anonymous ambassador is called forward to be revealed by the director of Grand Hotel Huis ter Duin. The ambassador takes center stage, pronounces their wishes for the Christmas season, and then presses a big, red button. Brilliance erupts! After a music and light show, the Christmas tree is officially lit, and the Christmas season starts in Grand Hotel Huis ter Duin. Ambassadors are chosen for different reasons at different years, but most of them have a background in sports, politics, cultural influence, or entrepreneurial success. Regular guests and staff families are invited to the ceremony. The tree, which stays up through the first week of January, is a popular place for holiday portraits and family photos throughout the holidays.

Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, A Fairmont Managed Hotel (1885) Hamilton, Bermuda

The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club opened in 1885 as an urban oasis in the Bermuda capital city of Hamilton. Built in honor of the British Empire’s Princess Louise after her 1883 visit to Bermuda, the hotel is still known as a getaway that promises to delight guests any time of the year. During December, the delights get kicked up a notch at “The Pink Palace,” and there is no shortage of holiday season traditions and spectacular displays for guests and visitors to enjoy. In addition to the hotel’s traditional Christmas décor, the hotel displays a magnificent gingerbread house just outside of the Crown & Anchor restaurant. Adorned with Christmas cookies, the square, gingerbread brick-style house is 10 ft. tall and features an icing-plastered interior space with glass mosaic and Christmas tree. The seven-chef pastry team began planning the structural concept in August, and it took two weeks to complete. The House consists of 400 bricks made from 572 pounds of gingerbread, 540 eggs and 40 pounds of powdered sugar. 80 hours were spent making and baking the gingerbread and finally constructing the house. One tradition that is unique to the island hotel among Historic Hotels Worldwide members is the Boxing Day dance performed by a troupe of masked Bermuda Gombeys. The term Gombey is derived from an African word meaning rhythm or drum. The Gombeys are a tradition that grew from the culture formed in the 1700s by enslaved Africans and West Indian people and British settlers. Though other islands share a similar tradition, Gombey dancing was recognized as a uniquely Bermudian art form at a UNESCO Cultural and Conservation Conference. During the holidays season, the Gombeys dance on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, as well as other important events and festivals on the island. From records, the hotel knows its Boxing Day Gombeys performance dates at least to the 1970s.

The Savoy London (1889) London, England

In the early 1880s, impressed by the grand American hotels he visited on his trip to the United States, entrepreneur and theatrical impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte decided to build his own magnificent hotel in the heart of London.


Katherine Orr

Historic Hotels of America │ Historic Hotels Worldwide

Manager, Marketing Communications

Tel: +1-202-772-8337

[email protected]

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