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2020 Historic Hotels of America Top 25 Most Magnificent Gingerbread Displays
Top 25 Most Magnificent Gingerbread Displays
Historic Hotels of America® have the best historic hotels to celebrate the holiday season and see the most spectacular (and delicious) gingerbread creations. From life size gingerbread houses to complete gingerbread creations with animation and sound effects, these historic hotels are the place to feel the holiday spirit.
This year’s Top 25 Gingerbread Displays features three sweet treats from 2020 and delicious memories from years past. The hotels are already baking up new ideas for 2021 and look forward to sharing their creations with returning guests. For now, enjoy the list below:
||La Fonda on the Plaza (1922)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
La Fonda’s oversized gingerbread “house” isn’t a house – it’s a replica of the hotel itself, known for its distinctive Pueblo revival architecture. Each year, La Fonda’s culinary team crafts a new variation, but the giant confection always boats authentic details right down to the traditional New Mexican farolita lights that flicker atop La Fonda’s exterior walls during the holidays.
The process begins in mid-December, when Chef Lane Warner cuts out the pieces of gingerbread to replicate La Fonda's famous adobe exterior. Colleague Gil Mesa, the hotel’s purchasing manager who is also the resident ice sculptor, gets to work putting icing on the sheets while they're flat -- a trick he has perfected after building the structure every year for the past nine years. After assembly, the team spends several more hours crafting such delightful details as ice-cream cone trees, adding LED lights for the farolitos and finishing it all off with stiff royal icing. Finally, the 30" x 30" and 2.5' high masterpieces is wheeled to the hotel lobby – long known as the “living room of Santa Fe” -- for a few final flourishes. This year, it goes on display on Dec. 18 and remains up through New Year’s.
||The Broadmoor (1918)
Colorado Springs, Colorado
The Broadmoor gingerbread creation has been a holiday staple at the resort since 1964. The 2020 Cog Railway version, led by Chef Adam Thomas and his team of chocolatiers and bakers, added to the iconic tradition!
This year’s installation was inspired by the resort’s own The Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway, one of the top tourist attractions in Colorado. Originally built in 1891, the cog railway is the highest railway in America reaching a height of 14,115 feet above sea level. Since March of 2019, it has been closed as it undergoes a massive $100 million renovation of its tracks, railcars, and depot to totally reimagine the experience to the summit of Pikes Peak where "America The Beautiful" was inspired. It’s on track for a May, 2021 reopening.
Previous gingerbread displays have included the resort’s intricate Pauline Chapel, the original 1918 resort, and, in 2019, The Broadmoor Special, a 1918 Pierce Arrow Touring Car that was converted by Broadmoor Founder Spencer Penrose into an iconic race car. The first Broadmoor gingerbread was a fairytale gingerbread house with Hansel and Gretel, complete with a tiny oven where the old witch put the bad children. Since 2013, the gingerbread creations have been life-sized and played a vital role in the resort’s holiday celebrations – going up at Thanksgiving and remaining on display until the new year. They are beloved by families who visit the resort during the holiday season.
This year, the resort has made digital viewing available, as well as created a video with The Broadmoor’s talented pastry team/chocolatiers that gives families tips on making their own gingerbread creations at home.
Click here to watch a video showing the process of building this incredible gingerbread creation from start to finish.
Click here to watch a video retrospect of past gingerbread houses from The Broadmoor.
||The Omni Grove Park Inn (1913)
Asheville, North Carolina
This year, the Omni Grove Park Inn is revolutionizing the National Gingerbread House Competition – the largest in the world! – for the 2020 holiday season to ensure that the competition’s legacy built on design, innovation and tradition continues safely for future generations.
The competition was held virtually without a public display of Gingerbread Houses at the historic hotel. Considering this, the hotel is generated unique, engaging experiences in place of a physical display, including socially distanced alternatives for hotel guests and fans at home to view the Gingerbread finalists.
The hotel also has it's own impressive gingerbread creation. Consisting of 400 pounds of powdered sugar, 64 pounds of egg whites, and 160 pounds of bread flour, this gingerbread house is modeled after the historic hotel's exterior.
||The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco (1907)
San Francisco, California
No Life-Size Gingerbread House in the lobby does not mean a complete absence of tradition! This year the Fairmont Hotel San Francisco is launching a one-of-a-kind contest.
Those who wish to participate can build a gingerbread house at home and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #MyFairmontGingerbreadHouse and follow @FairmontSanFrancisco to enter the contest. The winner will win a one (1) night stay for two (2) at Fairmont San Francisco or High Tea in the Gingerbread house next year.
|French Lick Springs Hotel (1845)
French Lick, Indiana
In 2019, all throughout the 50 Days of Lights at French Lick Resort, was a dazzling gingerbread house that guests might have been able to smell from a mile away. One of the most unique parts about last year's version is that the resort’s audio/visual department got involved to kick it up a notch. This Santa’s-workshop-themed gingerbread house was tech-savvy, with animated scenes scrolling on one of the front and side windows. You could even “see inside” the house and watch St. Nick and the elves busy at work. This gingerbread creation involved a couple hundred pounds of gingerbread, dozens more pounds of icing and sugary decorations, and roughly 450 hours of work by the hotel’s bakery staff to make this happen.
|Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa (1847)
Point Clear, Alabama
The 2019 gingerbread construction at the Grand Hotel started with baking gingerbread bricks in mid-October. At the beginning of November, the construction of the Grand Hotel in gingerbread began. A team of eight pastry cooks works on the display each day while continuing daily production. They spent approximately 20-30 hours a week creating it. The entire construction process took about a month to complete and was unveiled on Thanksgiving night. Last year, the pastry team decided to build the resort brick by brick instead of using sheets of gingerbread, as in the past. More than 4,000 bricks were used and the Grand culinary team puts great details in the display.
|Mohonk Mountain House (1869)
New Paltz, New York
2019 marked the 4th Annual Hudson Valley Gingerbread Competition at Mohonk Mountain. Mohonk invited its guests, members of the local community, and employees to construct their best gingerbread creation for a chance to have it displayed throughout the resort during the holiday season. A panel of local judges selected three prize winners and two honorable mentions in three categories and the top five finishers had their creations on display throughout the Mountain House. Similar to the Holiday Tree Tour where guests can view multiple decorated trees, Mohonk created a self-guided Gingerbread Tour for guests to explore the winning creations.
|The Hermitage Hotel (1910)
In 2016, the Hermitage Hotel created a 40 pound gingerbread replica of The Hermitage Hotel that took over three weeks to construct. This year, the hotel is planning to craft a gingerbread display featuring Double H Farms silo and farmhouse in snowfall, celebrating this hotel’s sustainable farming project. Double H Farms is the home to the restaurant’s own herd of Red Poll cattle, allowing Capitol Grille to offer some the highest quality steaks in the city.
|Palmer House®, a Hilton Hotel (1871)
The holidays are about tradition and one of those notable Chicago holiday traditions is the installation of the Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel’s Holiday Hearth at the entrance of the hotel and is on display throughout the holiday season. In 2018, the hotel featured a gingerbread version of this as well. The gingerbread holiday hearth was the creation of Executive Pastry Chef Bouet from Lyons, France, representing over 150 hours of work. The gingerbread creation was composed of 250 pounds of freshly made gingerbread, 20 pounds of royal icing and 90 pounds of Belgian Chocolate.
|The Jefferson Hotel (1895)
In 2018, the gingerbread creation was inspired by the classic Christmas poem, The Night Before Christmas. The structure was a depiction of a fictional house awaiting the arrival of Santa. The pastry team of five worked an average of six hours per day for 20 days to complete this year's confectionary creation. Weighing over 600 pounds, this gingerbread display included over 200 pounds of royal icing and 20 pounds of peppermint candies. The display was unveiled at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony and remained at the hotel for viewing through New Year’s Day.
|West Baden Springs Hotel (1902)
West Baden Springs, Indiana
In 2019, West Baden Springs Hotel created a gingerbread replica of its breathtaking dome. This was the first year for the pastry team at West Baden to take on a gingerbread house for the holidays, and they decided to tackle a replica version of the hotel itself— no small task considering all the curves, quirks and details that make West Baden unique.
|Omni San Francisco Hotel (1926)
San Francisco, California
In 2016 the Omni San Francisco created a gingerbread fantasy castle that weighed over 100 pounds and was five feet tall. It was made with entirely edible materials including gumballs, red hots, marshmallows, royal icing, Oreos and more.
|The Skirvin Hilton Oklahoma City(1911)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
2019's gingerbread creation took over three days and three five gallon buckets of royal icing, 50 full sheet pans of gingerbread, five pounds of poured sugar work, and over one pound of candy to create. The theme was Victorian homes and it took the pastry team 26 days to make. The gingerbread village was a popular backdrop during the holiday high tea the hotel conducts.
|HOTEL DU PONT (1913)
From ornate, hand-carved wood ceilings, terrazzo floors and hand-etched Sgraffito plastered walls to imported European chandeliers, the 2019 "Art of Gingerbread” display is truly a celebration of the beauty found within the landmark, century-old hotel. Each art piece made of gingerbread (10 total) was then be displayed in a gallery within the lobby area. All 12 pastry cooks were involved and they were given the opportunity to recreate art found throughout the hotel, through their own artistic vision, using gingerbread as a base. Some pieces in the exhibit incorporated other pastry mediums, like gum paste, chocolate, royal icing, and even HOTEL DU PONT almond macaroons. Staff worked over a period of four weeks to decide on inspiration and recreate their own historic piece of the hotel. The Art of Gingerbread offered a self-guided tour of HOTEL DU PONT, taking guests through The Green Room, Gold Ballroom, DuBarry Room, the Lobby and even hallways and foyers on a scavenger hunt to find all of the inspirations behind the 2019 gingerbread exhibit.
|The Omni Homestead Resort (1766)
Hot Springs, Virginia
Last year, the Homestead’s pastry team made a gingerbread version of the hotels’ iconic tower. The structure is eight feet wide, five feet deep and 15 feet tall. The hotel’s engineering team built the wooden frame and 10 members of the pastry team led by Executive Pastry Chef Leen Kim, created the finished piece. The baking process took a month to complete using more than 3,000 gingerbread “bricks.” In addition to the tower, there is a life size gingerbread man that guests can pose next to for selfies.
|The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club (1925)
St. Petersburg, Florida
The Vinoy constructed a replica gingerbread house of the hotel in 2016. The estimated weight was 120 pounds of gingerbread, powdered sugar and rolled fondant. Over the holidays, the hotel has a gingerbread decorating station for all of the young guests that arrive at the hotel.
|Williamsburg Lodge, Autograph Collection, and Colonial Houses (1750)
In 2019, The Williamsburg Lodge showcased a life size gingerbread house. Located in the lobby of the hotel, it took 15 people over 330 hours to bake, construct, and decorate. Approximately 150 pounds of icing, 55 pounds of candy, and a whopping 375 pounds of gingerbread were used to make this gingerbread creation come to life. The interior of the gingerbread house was complete with a mantelpiece, and a Christmas tree.
|Fairmont Olympic (1924)
The oversized gingerbread house at this historic hotel, featured in 2019, was large enough for guests small and tall to walk through and experience. The recipe included 4,000 gingerbread tiles, 2,500 candy canes, 50 pounds of crusted candy and many other ingredients. Seven pastry chefs, eight hard-working engineers and the whole team at the Fairmont Olympic got into the spirit helping with the gingerbread house from opening candies to icing and adding on bricks. All were welcome to walk through the gingerbread house and take photos, watch the lights twinkle and the toy train circle its tracks. During the season, guest could visit the hotel and after experiencing the gingerbread house, they were able to head up to the Teddy Bear Suite on the second floor – a winter wonderland full of teddy bears.
|InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel (1926)
San Francisco, California
The theme of the 2019 gingerbread creation was winter carnival and could be found throughout the hotel over the holidays. It is part of the décor at the hotel’s historic Top of the Mark lounge (on the 19th floor) for special holiday events including the Holiday Champagne Brunch and Children’s Magical Tea. The display also moved to the lobby throughout the season, becoming a focal point of the festive decorations throughout the space. The gingerbread creation was over 100 pounds completed and used 50 pounds of gingerbread and 30 pounds of icing.
|The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort (1927)
To celebrate the holidays in 2015 at The Royal Hawaiian, a replica of the hotel was made entirely of gingerbread. It was a full 360 degree replica to scale of the hotel and took a week to complete from start to finish. It was set on display in the lobby and over 100 pounds of gingerbread, 75 pounds of pink chocolate, and 60 quarts of royal icing were used in its creation. Throughout the holiday season the hotel has cookie decorating for hotel guests, Santa mail and a variety of holiday sweets and decorations. This year the Executive Pastry Chef will be constructing a seven foot tall replica of the bell tower that is on top of the hotel. There will even be a button guests can push that will ring a bell inside the gingerbread tower.
|Hilton Chicago (1927)
The 2019 gingerbread display featured Chicago’s iconic cityscape with notable structures including the Historic Hilton Chicago, Buckingham Fountain, Willis Tower, John Hancock Tower, and Soldier Field, amongst a few others. It took the hotel’s pastry team over 270 hours to bake and construct and is estimated weighing in at over 750 pounds, utilizing over 16,500 gingerbread bricks to build this creation.
|Mayflower Park Hotel (1927)
The Mayflower Park Hotel created an intricate and detailed gingerbread village the past, consisting of four houses and of course, a hotel. A gingerbread replica of the 91 year-old Mayflower Park Hotel was prominently displayed in the middle of the edible village. Guests could peek inside and see the front desk and the lobby chandelier. Visitors and guests of the hotel who visited during the holiday season are encouraged to vote for their favorite house. This was an all-hotel effort to get this project done. Many hands assisted to make this magical event happen in a timely fashion.
|The Settlers Inn (1927)
In previous years, historic Settlers Inn had an annual gingerbread display that guests have come to know and love throughout the years. The windows of the gingerbread house had intricate details with noted similarities to the Inn. This replica of the hotel featured most details of the hotel including the sign out front. It took three days to bake and assemble about 28 hours of total manpower to put together this replica gingerbread creation.
| The Willard InterContinental (1818)
The Willard’s 2019 gingerbread display was of the Jefferson Memorial, including The Tidal Basin and D.C.’s iconic cherry blossom trees in an effort to bring awareness to the hotel’s campaign and the ongoing efforts needed to preserve the Tidal Basin, named one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Standing at eight and a half feet by five feet, The Willard’s gingerbread display featured a southeast view of the famed Jefferson Memorial, and include the famed bronze statue of Jefferson by Rudulph Evans and all four quotations from Jefferson's writings that are carved into the walls of the actual memorial. The display also included an audio feed of Thomas Jefferson’s Inaugural Addresses, as well as a real water component to simulate the Tidal Basin complete with live fish. Intricate chocolate techniques, along with the use of fondant, brought the famed cherry blossom trees surrounding the memorial to life.
|Woodstock Inn & Resort (1793)
It took four people from the resort’s pastry department to create and implement the gingerbread creation for this resort. The bakers started at the beginning of November working on the shingles and the setup was completed the first week of December. The bakers had help from the Inn’s carpenters to create a wooden structure and then the pastry team placed the shingles onto the wood, and after that the decorating commenced. The theme for the gingerbread creation was Dr. Seuss and was five feet long, four feet wide and six foot tall. Ingredients used include: 150 pounds of flour, 51 pounds of molasses, 40 pounds of shortening, six pounds of ginger, six pounds of cinnamon, two pounds of baking powder, one pound of salt, a ton of eggs, and adorned with 15 pounds of candy.
Read all our Top 25 lists:
Top 25 Most Haunted Historic Hotels
Top 25 Most Magnificent Gingerbread Displays
Top 25 Historic Hotels for a Romantic Proposal
Top 25 Most Magnificent Gardens
Top 25 Most Magnificent Ceilings and Domes