It’s Christmas Eve and the walk-through Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread House 2015 showed something new, animation and a full size dog house plus full length feature films playing in the lobby where children wrote letters to Santa. The warm and cheerful elegance seems inviting and attracts many families, often with toddlers and younger children. Young couples ham it up in front of the tree and visitors enter with dogs and it’s a free for all with photography.
It’s cheerful people watching to say the least. Most take lots of photos in the Fairmont lobby, posing by the Christmas tree as tall as the two-story ceiling. The hotel goes back to 1907 and visiting at Christmas is a San Francisco tradition, with the elegant Christmas teas for adults and children selling out. The teas happen mid day through December 30. The lobby and walk-through gingerbread house remains open to all and for free, including dogs.
The chef and engineers this year brought in movement to the walk-through gingerbread house top to bottom. Santa’s boots kick out of the second story chimney. Old fashioned battery operated ice-rinks around the tiny village inside the train track show a pair of swans a swimming, Mr. & Mrs. Santa dancing on skates, hockey players and in the snow, a boy makes a snow angel while his golden retriever sits nearby. The train circles the village, passes through a tunnel to emerge before the visitors and goes inside the gingerbread house kitchen. Inside the kitchen, a conveyor system suspended from the ceiling moves baskets of fresh cookies including big dog bone gingerbread shapes. The conveyor system was fashioned out of a shredder. An elf pops up out of the floor. Outside a window, snowflakes fall in the silent night. Upstairs, a reindeer rocks in a rocking chair under a chandelier.
The chef at the Fairmont originally built the gingerbread house the size of a breadbox and it just got bigger and bigger, ultimately including a full size dog house since the current chef has three dogs. The panels of the dog house roof come in dog bone gingerbread shapes. Outside the doghouse fence, toddlers may sit and watch full length feature films for the holidays, such as Frozen. There’s paper and crayons with which to write letters to Santa, which go into a box the contents of which ultimately go to Macy’s. There’s also a box for a donation to a music therapy fund. The dog house has it’s own separate white flocked tree with decorations like ice skates with fluffy white trim but also a glittery glass tow truck. Santa has a sense of parking humor.
Adults may purchase a glass of champagne in the lobby and just relax in elegance on the cushy upholstered chairs and couches. Meanwhile. The Laurel Court restaurant, besides hosting the formal teas, serves some tasty desserts including a lovely creme brulee topped with maple ice-cream sandwich cookies. Even the menus listing desserts and burgers and such seem animated. They are digital notebooks with pages that move by the touch of a finger and the best part is one can enlarge the print with the touch of a thumb and forefinger.The hotel also maintains it’s own bees in a closed rooftop garden and makes it’s own honey used in the tea parties and elsewhere and in it’s own beer.
Visitors may get fresh air and a spectacular rooftop view from the rooftop garden, posing for photos by the fountain with Coit Tower in the distance. The old fashioned, shiny black lamp posts wrapped in red velvet ribbon make the rooftop feel like New Orleans or at least turn of the century. The wall of rooms with their New Orleanian verandas and floral wrought iron fences add to the old fashioned ambiance.
Find the Fairmont at 900 Mason Street, San Francisco. Drivers may find some street parking on Nob Hill. The One California Muni bus stops at the Fairmont when the bus comes from Embarcadero Center. Coming from the Fillmore, the One California Muni stops a block away. The hearty may walk up from Union Square and the Powell Street BART station or follow the cable cars up California Street from the Financial District. Bike riders will probably have to push their bikes up hill unless putting the bike on a rack on Muni. The reward for such as effort is a thrilling ride down California Street after your visit, day or night.
For more information: Fairmont