A few years ago, I spent the lead up to Christmas in Austrian Tyrol. It was the most Christmasy-holiday season I’d ever known. There were literal sleighs with literal bells that you could literally hear ringing. Open fires roared in every lodge. Real winter wonderland type sh*t.
That experience hooked me. It felt special and different from the holidays I’d known before — rewatching Christmas Vacation and eating way too many cookies (which also has a certain allure). Even the act of staying in a hotel during the winter season felt new. The inherent sensuality was still there, but with a new slant. The sexiness of a swimming pool had been replaced by spas. Breezy cocktails were swapped out for the sorts of hot ciders and mulled wines that left your face flush.
With holiday hype ramping up by the second, we’re running down the best Christmas hotels on earth. Check them out and book your tickets with a quickness. Don’t worry, Santa will find you. — Steve Bramucci, Travel Editor.
The Arlberg1800 Resort: St. Christoph, Austria
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The Arlberg1800 feels like it would be the setting for a Quentin Tarantino winter robbery movie. The upper floors and rooms are all rustic Austrian charm, the basement holds a few million dollars in rare wines, and the village itself is most easily accessed via a ski slope. The fact that the place hasn’t made our annual heist list yet is a shocker.
Movie pitches/ potential heists aside, this property is truly stunning. A giant Christmas tree towers over the dining room. The food is both decadent and refined. Every piece of furniture — from the tables to the beds — feels like it was constructed 300 years ago. And then those wines… there are just so many of them. They are just so old. Taken all together, it feels like a Christmas miracle.
The resort itself actually hosts a full-on Christmas on site. Guests from the main property plus a few Alberg-owned villas around town circle around the tree and find private spaces for their families in the restaurant, then everyone celebrates in a community. The restaurant creates decadent meals and luscious desserts and people dine family style. In fact, when I was there I became so entranced by it all that I reserved two rooms at the property for my family for Christmas 2020. (It’s yet to be seen whether I’ll be able to afford it.)
Rooms start at $700.