Christmas is a special time for a myriad of reasons, and those luxury hotels that are close to a public Christmas market benefit substantially, says the gal. In London, Winter Wonderland, which runs until January 4th, 2015, includes a Ferris wheel, ice-skating, a circus – and shopping. Winter Wonderland is at the south-east corner of Hyde Park. The nearest hotel on the east side of Park Lane is InterContinental London Park Lane, or choose Four Seasons Park Lane, Hilton London Park Lane, 47 Park Lane or The Dorchester. Just south of Hyde Park Corner is the Wellesley, and if you do not want to cross any roads, or take sometimes sordid underpasses, try Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.
Toronto’s Christmas Market runs through December 21st at the Distillery Historic District – its sponsors include American Express, and Fairmont Royal York has a special overnight package which has tickets for mulled wine and a performance of A Christmas Carol. This market supplies Christmas gift boxes to tens of thousands of needy kids, via The Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund. In Vienna, I was particularly impressed by the market in Am Hof, which is sponsored by Radio Wien. It seemed the world and his wife, and kids in pushchairs, were out to enjoy themselves (and as I said the other day, Viennese seem to spend all day long eating and drinking).
What is the history of the Christmas market, also known variously as Christkindlmarkt, Marché de Noël, Christkindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, and Weihnachtsmarkt? They started way back. Munich’s was first mentioned in the year 1310, and Frankfurt’s in 1393. A year ago I was impressed by a Berlin market, at Potsdamerplatz (most convenient hotel is Ritz-Carlton Berlin) – I was in town for the Relais & Châteaux meeting, which I sadly missed this year (hint, please make sure, someone, that I have the 2015 event in my diary as soon as possible.
This market, at Am Hof in Vienna, is perfectly complemented by the city’s newest luxury hotel, Park Hyatt Vienna, which I am going to visit next. In the interim, there is a perfect excuse to wander the square, looking at the stalls selling hot gluhwein or beer – these are the most popular stands, but there are also crowds around potato stands, with everything from fries and crisps through to baked potatoes. Sausages? Every kind you can imagine, and when finally you get tired of fillin’ the stomach, you can start buying Christmas presents, say home-made leather goods or even Indian carpets, which do seem a little incongruous in this environment.