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The Gingerbread Mansion at the Fairmont San Francisco
Courtesy of Fairmont San Francisco

Gingerbread Mansion

Gingerbread Mansion
Fairmont San Francisco

The stately Nob Hill hotel Fairmont San Francisco makes a strong first impression with its classic Beaux-Arts exterior, built in 1906 under architect Julia Morgan, of Hearst Castle fame. But during the holiday season the hotel has an over-100-year-old tradition that embraces Victorian architecture instead—and an edible form at that. Inside the lobby, the executive pastry chef and her team create a two-story Victorian gingerbread house, 22 feet high and 23 feet wide, made with more than 7,000 house-made gingerbread bricks covered with royal icing and candy decor. You can even book an afternoon tea or dinner for up to 10 guests inside the house, making for a truly memorable holiday experience.

The public can only view the creation during a few open houses, so another way to see it is to stay overnight (or even have dinner at) the hotel. If you plan to sleep over, consider the Santa Suite package—which includes a stay in the two-bedroom Napoleon Suite, decked out in Santa decor, and breakfast.

Or, partake in the lobby’s special holiday Champagne bar, or one of the daily Gingerbread Holiday Teas. Just remember to limit your gingerbread eating to the tea, and not while touring the house. “Kids and adults alike pick off bits, despite our signs asking to please refrain from eating the house, and so we have to replace bricks and candy daily,” says the hotel’s marketing communications director, Melissa Farrar. “These people are clearly on Santa’s ‘naughty list.’”