The winter holiday season in New York City brings not only ice rinks, tourists, and hordes to the stores, but also myriad Christmas lights and ornaments that change every year. Every hotel in the city dresses up at least a little for the holidays, in red, green and gold garlands, or shiny tinsel, or simple lights. Below, check out some of the best decorations we've seen this year!
Hotel: The New York Palace Where: Midtown East
One of New York's most visually stunning hotels, the New York Palace has a gilded, grandiose style that is a little gaudy but still fabulous enough to blow away the boutiques. Huge rooms (renovated in 2008), a luxe spa, and a fantastic gym make the Palace a great value among luxury hotels.
Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park Where: Midtown West
For a New York luxury experience, the Ritz-Carlton delivers. From the tasteful, upscale rooms, to the super attentive staff that goes the extra mile, to the premier gym and La Prairie spa, everything shoots for Old New York grandiosity. The atmospheric lobby bar and its famous bartender Norman are a must.
Hotel: Wellington Hotel Where: Midtown West
This mid-range property has 600 decent-sized rooms -- some with phenomenal views -- a 24-hour business center, and a Christmas shop selling everything from New York-themed ornaments to traditional garlands. However, the most outstanding feature is its exceptional location -- around the corner from Carnegie Hall, about three blocks from both Central Park and the Theater District, and a short walk from Times Square and some of the best restaurants in New York.
Hotel: Four Seasons New York Where: Midtown East
Deliberately business-like, the 368-room Four Seasons in Midtown East has all the luxury essentials: stylish lobby, beck-and-call service, a fine spa and fitness center, and some of the city's largest rooms. Its location, three blocks from Central Park and within walking distance to the Theatre District, is also convenient for the leisure traveler.
Hotel: The St. Regis New York Where: Midtown East
The extraordinary service at the grand, century-old 229-room St. Regis is rivaled only by the Plaza, and its elegant, spacious rooms and bathrooms set the bar pretty high for other luxury hotels in New York. Plus the famed Bloody Marys at the King Cole Bar and the outstanding Alain Ducasse's Adour compensate the lack of a more impressive spa.
Hotel: The Plaza Where: Midtown East
The century-old, 282-room Plaza is a New York landmark. A $400 million overhaul in 2008 gave the huge rooms gold-plated bathroom fixtures, excellent bedding and updated amenities. The exceptional spa and 24-hour butler service make it worth the splurge.
Hotel: The Waldorf Astoria Where: Midtown East
A Midtown East icon, the 1,300-room Waldorf-Astoria comes with some of New York's best (or at least most expensive) spa services, fitness facilities, restaurants, and bars. The dress code and antique décor aren't for everyone, but the cinematic history and unrivaled elegance make the price tag well worth it.
Hotel: Trump International Hotel and Tower Where: Upper West Side
An ostentatiously luxurious hotel with a supremely well-trained staff, and huge, elegant rooms designed by Ivanka Trump herself. The location (overlooking Central Park at Columbus Circle) can't be beat. The hotel also has two highly regarded restaurants and an in-house pool.
Hotel: Gramercy Park Hotel Where: Gramercy and Murray Hill
The Gramercy Park Hotel currently sets the bar for New York cool -- hence the celebrities in the lounge and the paparazzi on the sidewalk. It offers ultra-luxe but small rooms done up in high Boho-chic style, a gorgeous gym, and a young, attentive staff. True, even guests sometimes feel excluded from the glamour-fest in the bar. But the place is utterly unique.
Hotel: Jumeirah Essex House Where: Midtown West
This large, luxurious Art Deco icon, located on the southern edge of Central Park, evokes the opulence of bygone times. With a recent redesign that put modern technological amenities in the rooms, the Essex House is moving comfortably into the future.
Hotel: Park Central Hotel Where: Midtown West
At 935 rooms, this hotel is huge, and service is not as personalized as in other properties. However, the price is right, the rooms are big, and the location -- between Times Square and Central Park -- is ideal.
Hotel: The Manhattan at Times Square Hotel Where: Midtown West
The 665-room Manhattan at Times Square Hotel has a wonderful location -- just 10 short blocks north of Times Square -- and great on-site features such as a large pool, which make it a great choice for the price, especially for families.
Hotel: Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers Where: Midtown West
With a convenient Midtown West location six blocks from Central Park, the 1,750-room Sheraton is fine for families and its thousands of daily conventioneers. The large rooms come with comfortable king-size beds, flat-screen TVs, and upscale bath products.