9 Magical Inns for the Holiday Season
As the holidays approach this year, we’re all in need of making spirits brighter. But many of the holiday traditions we hold dear are certain to be different in 2020. For those of us unable to travel home or gather with friends and family for the holidays, it’s still possible to find some holiday magic with an escape to a bed and breakfast inn. Steeped in nostalgic charm, these California inns will be all aglow with roaring fireplaces, festive lights, and sparkling holiday finery. The inns also allow you stay safe and socially distanced so you can still make the most of the most wonderful time of year.
Benbow Historic Inn
The day after Thanksgiving, the Christmas elves at the Benbow Historic Inn in Garberville start their work of transforming the inn into a holiday wonderland with a Toyland Christmas theme. All public areas including the lobby, dining room, lounge and entrances are festooned with decorations. Outside, the inn is strung with thousands of twinkling lights. Guests are welcomed with a warm, wood-burning fire in the lobby, Christmas décor, and music all around. Some guests return to the inn year after year for an array of holiday traditions including addressing holiday cards in the great room, singing carols, and a lavish four-course Christmas dinner. The historic inn is nestled amid the redwoods on the banks of the Eel River and features an award-winning restaurant and wine cellar.
At the base of Mt. Shasta, in the picture-postcard town of McCloud, the grand McCloud Hotel is decorated to the nines every holiday season. In the lobby of the 1915 Art-and-Crafts-style hotel, a warm fire crackles in the fireplace and the grand staircase is festooned with garland, twinkling lights, and red velvet bows. Throughout the hotel, you’ll find at least seven Christmas trees all aglow and hundreds of charming set pieces from the Department 56 Dickens’ Village series collection. The hotel also hosts a Dickens’ Dinner with a reading from A Christmas Carol, live musicians with carols sung around the lobby piano, and horse and carriage rides with staff dressed in period costume.
Gosby House Inn
For the holiday season, the Gosby House Inn in Pacific Grove glows inside and out. Twinkling lights outline the stately Victorian building, including the classic turreted front porch. Inside, the inn is decorated with holiday greenery and a full-size Christmas tree that sparkles with ornaments collected over the years. The Gosby House Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is especially beautiful in its holiday finery. Freshly-baked cookies are served at the inn in every season, but during the holidays, guests will find holiday-themed versions tucked into their afternoon mini picnic boxes.
The Queen Anne Hotel
The holiday decor at the historic Queen Anne Hotel in San Francisco evoke scenes reminiscent of a Charles Dickens novel. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, the hotel is dressed to the nines with the warm glow of festive lights and decorations, mixed with ornate Victorian furnishings and flickering fireplaces. Guests can bask in the holiday sparkle of the hotel’s parlor and library with a hot cup of tea or cocoa, or perhaps a nip of sherry. Located in the charming Victorian neighborhood Pacific Heights, this landmark hotel is within an easy stroll walk of Union Square with its giant Christmas tree, outdoor ice rink, and famous department stores.
For the holiday season, the stately Victorian Inn in Ferndale glitters with thousands of twinkling lights. A magnificently-decorated, 18-foot Christmas tree stands near fireplace in the main dining room and becomes of the backdrop for dozens of guests’ holiday photos every year. Outside, the entire historic village of Ferndale is decorated in festive lights, including the largest living Christmas tree in the United States, just around the corner from the inn. The Victorian Inn features beautifully-appointed, nostalgic guest rooms with lofty ceilings, vintage fixtures and furnishings, and private baths.
Gingerbread Mansion Inn
Also in the village of Ferndale and just a block off Main Street, the Gingerbread Mansion Inn glows with old-fashioned holiday magic and Victorian finery. Each of its three parlors is decorated to the nines. Ornate stockings are hung with care on festooned fireplace mantels with nutcrackers standing watch from above. Banisters wrapped in garland and holly run the length of the stairs. In the front parlor windows, a Christmas tree glitters with lights and ornaments while and Bing Crosby croons over the radio. The mansion’s 11 lavish guest rooms evoke a bygone era with period wallpapers and antiques.
Simpson House Inn
A Victorian estate tucked amid an acre of hushed gardens in Santa Barbara, the Simpson House Inn pulls out all of the stops in decorating for the holidays. Poinsettias line steps to the wide, wraparound porch, where red candles flicker. Garland and ribbons weave along the stair railings and trim the front door, where an enormous wreath is framed in the glow of the glass door panel. Inside the front parlor, a towering Christmas tree glitters with lights and ornaments and is topped with a Victorian angel. Vintage toys encircle the tree beneath its boughs. The inn evokes a timeless elegance with antique wood beds, oriental rugs, claw foot tubs and wing back chairs flanking wood-burning fireplaces.
At the Martine Inn in Pacific Grove, the innkeepers hang wreaths, wrap the banisters and fireplace mantels with boughs and holly, and put up individually decorated trees in every guest room. They also trim a large tree in the library and decorate their porch tree with miniatures of local historic buildings made by the docents of the Monterey History Art Association. The oceanfront inn overlooks Pacific Grove’s rocky coastline and features museum-quality American antiques, wood-burning fireplaces and claw foot tubs.
McCaffrey House Bed & Breakfast Inn
The McCaffrey House Bed & Breakfast Inn in the High Sierras offers a winter wonderland escape for the holidays. The beautifully decorated inn sparkles with tinsel, snow globes, and Santa figurines amid the warm glow from the fireplace. A German LGB train runs around the base of the Christmas tree while train ornaments hang from the tree’s boughs. The charming three-story B&B is nestled in the quiet forest hollow. All of the guest rooms feature handmade quilts, woodstoves, private baths, and exquisite views of the forest surrounding the inn.