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The 2021 Historic Hotels Worldwide Most Magnificent Gingerbread Displays

Historic Hotels Worldwide know that if there was one holiday treat that the nations of the world might agree on, it could be gingerbread. Millenia past, ginger was cultivated in China and spread through Asia and through the Mediterranean world to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East via early trade routes. In the modern era, gingerbread was popularized in the English court of Queen Elizabeth I, where cookie decoration was the height of chic. Gingerbread houses are a German creation – perhaps inspired or popularized by the fairytale "Hansel and Gretel" in early 1800s. Immigrants to the Americas brought ginger and gingerbread traditions with them. As an art form for pastry chefs and a highly anticipated sweet treat for children, gingerbread decorating is a tradition to unite the ages and it is a centerpiece for elegant lobbies at the world’s most beautiful hotels. Here are some of the most magnificent gingerbread displays presented this December by award-winning Historic Hotels Worldwide in China, Canada, Ireland, and the Philippines.

Beijing Hotel NUO (1917)
Beijing, China
Beijing Hotel NUO’s impressive gingerbread display is a replica of the hotel’s iconic heritage building, once known as Grand Hotel de Pekin. The size of the gingerbread house is 142 cm. long and 59 cm. wide, reaching a height of 118 cm. and weighs around 55 lbs. The gingerbread hotel replicates the same classic French-style façade and front gate with delicate, white frosted details. Colorful edible stars, bells, candy canes, snowflakes, and snowmen add whimsy and charm to the grand hotel. The Beijing Hotel NUO was established in 1917 and known as “the most luxurious hotel in the Orient,” a social hub for high society in the 1900s. Through the gingerbread hotel windows, guests can see old photographs of the hotel’s interiors including the vintage-style rooms and our signature staircase. The concept is to present this legendary hotel in gingerbread and create a ‘time capsule’ to celebrate its rich and storied history. Approximately 33 lbs. of gingerbread mix and 22 lbs. of icing sugar were used in creation. It took the hotel’s pastry team of five chefs over 168 hours to bake and construct. The gingerbread hotel is displayed in the lobby, with the historic, signature staircase behind it and dreamy star lights and crystal chandelier hung above. This December 2021, the sweet gingerbread Beijing Hotel NUO is the very first thing guests see upon entering the historic luxury hotel.

Fairmont Hotel Macdonald (1915)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
The Fairmont Hotel MacDonald presents two gingerbread creations in 2021: a life-size gingerbread cottage display in the lobby and a gingerbread replica of the hotel located inside the doorway of the giant gingerbread house. The gingerbread house is an annual. Each year the hotel’s pastry chefs make it bigger and more magnificent than the year before. The display this year required 625 hours to mix, bake, and construct and it is magnificent! The gingerbread house is over a story tall and features sugar-dusted shingles and twinkling fairy lights that line its roof and windows. The smaller but no less impressive gingerbread hotel showcases the historic hotel’s iconic architecture, originally designed to resemble a gorgeous chateau from the French Renaissance. This year, the hotel unveiled the gingerbread house and hotel at a tree lighting ceremony in November to officially kick off the festive season in the heart of Edmonton. Through December, guests and visitors can enter the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald lobby and walk through the gingerbread house to discover the gingerbread hotel for themselves.

Ingredient Spotlight: Fairmont Hotel MacDonald
  • 200kg (440 lbs.) brown sugar
  • 260kg (573 lbs.) brown flour
  • 260kg (573 lbs.) white flour
  • 280 dozen eggs
  • 62 liters (16 gallons) molasses
  • 41 liters (11 gallons) honey
  • 22kg (48 lbs.) cinnamon
  • 57kg (125 lbs.) meringue

Great Southern Killarney (1854)
Killarney, Ireland
The Great Southern Killarney hotel in western Ireland was inspired by the local train station to build a gingerbread display, featuring train conductor Tom (a doll) standing at welcome guests. Why a train conductor? Great Southern Killarney originally opened as a railway hotel in 1854, and it is located on the grounds of the historic Killarney train station. Three hotel employees were involved in the construction of the display: a maintenance team member built the structure – which is not edible; then another staff member decorated the house with cotton fluff, candy canes, and dangling icicle lights; and a pastry chef baked and decorated the gingerbread men and women that cover its façade. Located at the gingerbread house is a post box for children to send their letters to Santa. Guests and visitors of all ages are invited to the hotel’s Grand Foyer to be delighted and enjoy this tribute to the hotel’s railroad heritage.

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar (1780)
Bagac, Bataan
This season, the Philippines resort Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar (1780) – which was recently awarded the 2021 Historic Hotels Worldwide® Best Historic Hotel for Asia and the Pacific – created a gingerbread house representing a symbol of Philippine culture. The Gingerbread “Bahay-Kubo or Nipa Hut” carries the warmth of the Filipino Christmas Holiday. The Gingerbread Nipa-Hut is a festive sight and smell, with main ingredients of ground ginger and cinnamon powder. It has the unique characteristics of a traditional thatched roof, stilted nipa hut, which includes mobility and suitability to the tropical climate of the Philippines. The Gingerbread Nipa Hut display is 6 ft. long and 8 ft. wide, reaching a height of 7 ft. It weighs nearly 4,000 pounds and requires two people working for two weeks to finish. The Gingerbread Nipa-Hut is currently on display in Casa Juico, a historic mansion in Las Casas Quezon City.

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