Hotels for the Holidays: Where Lobbies & More Brightly Shine

The tree outside the Grand America Hotel

Each holiday season, hotels transform into getaways that glitter and shine with the holiday season. Some are standouts for their holiday offerings that have become yearly traditions. Whether it’s the breath-taking Christmas tree in the lobby or Santa related things to do, here are more holiday standouts from LouisvilleChicago, Salt Lake and San Antonio.

The Galt House in Louisville

Known in Louisville, Kentucky for its KaLightoscope luminarie show–a long standing holiday light extravaganza that has dazzled for almost a decade, the Galt House has switched up its holiday kid-friendly glam.

Instead of KaLightoscope, there’s Elfapalooza where Santa and his elves have extended hours for crafts, visits with Santa, and rides on the Peppermint train. There is also a breakfast with Santa option.

With its 1,314 guest rooms and suites, Galt House is the largest hotel in Kentucky and is dog friendly. Also, on Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail, Galt House’s Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar has 150 whiskey options. Try a flight or a classic bourbon drink for holiday cheer.

In Chicago, head to the Palmer House Hilton where the lobby tree is a magnificent addition to the stunning beauty of the Beaux Arts architecture with 21 ceiling paintings by French painter Louis Pierre Rigal. To savor the season, settle into an afternoon with the Nutcracker Holiday Tea, a sumptuous selection of teas, sweets and savories. The tea, served in the lobby includes harp music accompaniment.


Palmer House lobby with its magnificent ceiling of 21 paintings

Palmer House, built in 1873 after the Great Chicago Fire destroyed the first one, is on the National Trust for Historic Preservation list. Along with the ceiling paintings, the Tiffany 24-karat gold chandelier and the two bronze statues “Winged Angels” make this lobby worth a visit.


Tree in Palmer House lobby

Guest rooms that range from standard to full-service executive are appointed in what one needs for an upscale comfortable stay.

Salt Lake City, Utah’s The Grand America Hotel is steeped in European grandness of Richelieu furniture, Italian marble and original art all year. Over the holidays opulence increases with family-friendly activities.

The Holiday Window Stroll of 14 window displays in the theme of “Grand Winter” is a journey past whimsical versions of Jack Frost, a dancing ballerina, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and other images of childhood magic.

There’s also a life-size gingerbread house of all edible ingredients that took 2,000 lbs. of flour, 3,000 eggs and 600 lbs of sugar to create. Gumballs and candy canes are part of the decorations.


One of the 14 windows at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City

While you visit, use the complimentary tour guide for a self-directed tour of the hotel’s artwork. The collection includes paintings, tapestries and furniture.

Rooms from one king bed to two queen bed and suites reflect the rest of the hotel’s grandeur including the Italian marble which is a feature of the bathrooms.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa outside San Antonio, Texas creates holiday sparkle with a nightly  light show of thousands of lights timed to music. This show goes through Dec. 31. While you stroll taking in the show, enjoy a cup of hot cocoa.


Light show at JW Marriott San Antonio Hills Resort

Throughout December several Santa and elf themed activities keep pint-size to adult guests busy. There is a Santa’s Workshop, Breakfast with Santa, story time with elves, and an elf-making workshop.  For the daring, each Saturday, there’s a Keep Calm and Plunge On Contest where guests jump in the pool. A photo and T-shirt are included in this activity.

To unwind from the holiday hoopla, head to the Lantana Spa with its menu of treatments from massages to body scrubs. This 600 acre resort has much to offer throughout the year.

For other hotels with holiday pizzazz, Diana Rowe has the scoop from Colorado to New York City.

Post and photo of Palmer House tree courtesy of Jamie Rhein. Other photos courtesy of each hotel.

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