Located in the block comprised by California, Mason, Powell and Sacramento streets, The Fairmont is one of San Francisco’s grand historical hotels (read hotel’s history here). I had heard that, during the Holiday season, the Fairmont’s elves work overtime to create a whimsical winter wonderland in the hotel lobby. That is why, on a rainy Sunday, earlier this month, my friend Valerie and I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge to Nob Hill to have a look. We were not disappointed.
The Fairmont’s lobby is quite grand on a regular day. During the Holidays it is truly stunning. The main focus point is their Gingerbread House, which is famous for good reasons. This is not your ordinary gingerbread house, but a two-story, life-size one!
As we entered from the main doors, we caught a glimpse of it behind the big Christmas tree, which is quite beautiful, but certainly eclipsed by the work of art that is the Gingerbread House. The house is so big you can walk inside it and through to the Laurel Court Restaurant & Bar on the other side. It has two stories plus roof with terrace, it is furnished inside, and also has a second story terrace with figures and trees.
Since its debut in 2008, the Fairmont’s Gingerbread House has grown in size and is now California’s largest Gingerbread House. Its current measurements are 22 ft. high by 23 ft. wide by 10 1/2 ft. deep. 7,750 pieces of gingerbread have been used to build it, as well as 1,500 pounds of royal icing and 700 pounds of candy. It takes the Pastry Shop team approximately 375 hours to create it, and the Engineering Department works 520 hours to construct the framework.
At the end of the Holiday season, the framework and props are recycled, while all the edible parts are composted in keeping with the hotel’s commitment to environmental responsibility.
Nearby, on the other side of the big Christmas tree, is the North Pole Nook. It is a mini playground with a Gingerbread Dog House and a mail box where children can drop their letters to Santa. Isn’t it adorable?
The grand staircase is also decorated for Christmas. There is even a special mail chute for letters to the North Pole, and a beautiful collection of Nutcrackers courtesy of the Molinari Family.
The Fairmont’s commitment to creating a Holiday fairyland also extends to their events for the season, from their daily Gingerbread Holiday Tea complete with Christmas Fairy and Balloon Elf in the Laurel Court (November 28 – December 30, Christmas Eve and Day excepted) to special celebrations for Christmas Eve & Day and New Year’s Eve.
After oohing and aah-ing at the beauty of the Fairmont’s Christmas decorations for a while, we decided we needed a pick-me-up, so we paused for a very good cappuccino from the hotel’s coffee bar, Caffé Centro. The street entrance for the coffee shop is on Powell street, and as we walked out I was lucky to catch one of the cable carts decorated for Christmas.
After all, this is the only spot in San Francisco where each of the City’s cable car lines meet.
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