Midtown East, Manhattan, New York City
New York is absolutely magical at Christmas time, with trees galore, elaborate displays in department store windows, and skaters twirling atop ice rinks. Hotels (like the Plaza, shown here) partake in the whimsy, too, dazzling guests by decking out their lobbies and entrances with lights, ornaments, presents -- the works. 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, but it also converted most rooms overlooking Central Park into privately owned residences. Still, the beautifully restored Oak Room, exceptional spa, and 24-hour butler service make it worth the splurge. Eloise at Christmastime -- a children's book set at the hotel -- follows the adventures of a precocious Plaza resident during the holidays.