Holiday Feasts in San Francisco Hotels – Not Just for Tourists
The largest-ever gingerbread house in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco is a three-story Victorian with an arched entryway, corner quoins, moldings, decorative brackets, balconies, and a patterned tile roof.
A Nutcracker figure and a teddy bear can be seen through its windows, as well as a train loaded with striped candy canes running in and out of a tunnel along a frozen lake. The lake is surrounded by sugar-glazed snowy mountains with roaming deer and a flock of penguins sliding down one after another like in a stop-motion animation.
This fairy tale wonder, made of 7,500 hand-cut gingerbread bricks and 1,200 pounds of sugar icing, is a joined creation of the Fairmont’s executive chef, jW Foster, and pastry chef Stephen Sullivan, and adorned with 650 pounds of marshmallows, jellies, lollipops, and licorice to be repaired and replaced as needed throughout the winter holiday season.
The historic hotel lobby also features a 23-foot Christmas tree with gold and blue ornaments, the Molinari Family Nutcracker Collection on loan from the San Francisco Ballet, and a kids’ nook with tables and chairs, a mini-tree and a mailbox to accept letters to Santa – written here at the nook, or inside the gingerbread house.
The walkway under the house leads to the Laurel Court Restaurant and Bar, where holiday menu preparations are underway.
The Fairmont has an array of special culinary celebrations planned for the holidays:
The annual Nutcracker Holiday Tea, presented by the Fairmont San Francisco in partnership with the San Francisco Ballet, also offers a Children’s Package complete with a Nutcracker trinket and a gingerbread cookie to decorate with the help of the Nutcracker Soldier.
A special three-course Christmas Eve Dinner at Laurel Court will include a holiday cocktail or mulled wine. Christmas Eve Dinner at the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar will have a special menu for the evening, while the regular menu will be served in both restaurants.
On Christmas Day, there will be Champagne Brunch Buffet in the Crown Room with spectacular city views, a jazz trio, and photo ops with Santa; a five-course dinner at the Laurel Court, and a special menu dinner at Tonga Room.
To end 2011 and meet 2012 with style, there are holiday parties planned at the Fairmont San Francisco for New Year’s Eve:
New Year’s Eve Dinner and Dancing in the Crown Room. The black-tie package includes a seven-course menu with wine pairings, a full bar, party favors, and dancing to live music, and the Balloon Drop at midnight.
New Year’s Eve Dinner at Laurel Court Restaurant and Bar. A five-course dinner and live jazz music.
A Totally Tiki New Year’s Eve at theTonga Room and Hurricane Bar. A luau buffet or a tiki lounge party package – an a la carte cocktail and appetizer menu. Both options include party favors, dancing to the Island Groove Band, and a champagne toast at midnight.
The gingerbread house will be on display through January 1, 2012 at the Fairmont San Francisco, 950 Mason Street. For more information on all dining options and to book reservations, call 415-772-5000 or visit their website.
The Hyatt Regency San Francisco, located in the Embarcadero Center across from the historic Ferry Building, has the largest atrium lobby in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records – 17stories high, and the hotel takes full advantage of it. A wall of 300,000 cascading Christmas lights in the Hyatt lobby cuts right above the rows of bare twigs and snowy pines, and creates that special atmosphere that comes only with winter holidays.
A 30-foot Christmas tree with a shining star at its top towers over Nutcracker figures and teddy bears, and snowflakes are projected onto the walls. Sparkly reindeer gather around the dramatic lobby sculpture Eclipse, by Charles O. Perry.
The Hyatt spared no expense in preparing for the holiday season and decorating, entertaining, and otherwise enticing its guests and tenants. And since last year, San Francisco city dwellers know where to go for snow in their not-a-single-white-Christmas city. The snow falls in the lobby of Hyatt Regency at 1 pm, 6 pm, and 8 pm daily through December 31.
The ice is found at the city’s Embarcadero Holiday Skating Rink adjacent to the hotel. It’s open day and night through January 2, 2012 – Sunday-Thursday from 10 am to 10 pm, and Friday-Saturday from 10 am to 11:30 pm.
For adults, the Holiday Happy Hour at the Eclipse Lounge features signature cocktails, holiday drinks, and a full bar daily from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
For children of all ages, Breakfast with Santa in the Eclipse Café will be served on December weekends from 8 am till noon – a full breakfast buffet including scrambled eggs, cinnamon French toast, chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, sausage, fruit and berries, and Christmas cookies, with Santa visiting tables and talking to the guests.
Christmas Eve Dinner on December 24 and Christmas Day Dinner on December 25 from 4 pm to 10 pm will feature a three-course menu:
- Lobster bisque or shrimp cocktail with vodka cocktail sauce
- Roasted prime rib with horseradish cream and root vegetables, or butternut squash ravioli and wilted spinach with roasted garlic cream sauce, or horseradish-potato crusted salmon with grilled asparagus and cucumber raita
- Traditional yule log or individual chocolate sponge cake
The New Year’s Eve Package from December 31, 2011 to January 1, 2012 will offer a room for two, a full breakfast buffet, and an option to upgrade to the Regency Club.
The New Year’s Eve Bayviews and Bubbles includes a Regency Club Package and is available from December 27, 2011 to January 4, 2012.
The New Year’s Eve Dinner on December 31 from 5:30 pm to 10 pm will feature a four-course dinner:
- Chef’s amuse
- Dungeness crab and corn chowder, or arugula salad with citrus dressing, Bosc pear and shaved Reggiano cheese
- Land and Sea – beef tenderloin and jumbo shrimp scampi with gratin potatoes and grilled asparagus
- Chef’s New Year’s dessert assortment
- Champagne split
The Eclipse Bar and Lounge will be open from noon on December 31 to 1 am on January 1, 2012, with a full bar and specialty cocktails. Entertainment will be featured in the lobby from 8:30 pm on December 31 to 12:30 am on January 1, 2012, with a DJ, dancing, party favors, and specialty champagne menus.
The New Year’s Breakfast Buffet on January 1, 2012 from 7:30 am until 2 pm will feature a Bloody Mary bar and breakfast buffet. Additional information and reservations at their website.