While the holidays are long gone, there are still plenty of winter days ahead. Why not spend a few of them at a cozy hotel where you can savor the season’s pleasures — crisp air, snowy fields, the scent of a maple log fire? From a new lodge in Grand Canyon National Park to a Victorian-era hotel in the Scottish Highlands, these properties cultivate toasty, cheerful atmospheres — what the Germans might call gemütlichkeit and the Danish hygge — with fire pits, “fireplace butlers” (more on that shortly), saunas and cocktails made with toasted marshmallow syrup. No need for a ski resort. Be it a cabin in the Catskills or a boutique hotel in Old Quebec, at these five escapes you can sip, stroll, sink into velvet sofas with books and board games, and embrace the new year.
The Newbury Boston
Winter in New England calls to mind frozen ponds and snowy mountains. Yet at the Newbury Boston you’ll find a countryside pleasure in the midst of the city: 42 suites with wood-burning fireplaces, complete with a fireplace butler to fan the flames. Guests select their choice of wood from — what else? — the fireplace menu, which includes birch, cherry, maple and oak. “In the early evening,” the menu’s oak option begins, “retire to your room and enjoy this lightly scented, long-burning wood.”
Also on the menu: wine, cocktails and a nosh section with treats such as s’mores, molten chocolate cake and, for those longing for something savory, grilled cheese and tomato bisque. For a wintry cocktail, the Campfire is fittingly smoky, made with tequila, mezcal, toasted marshmallow syrup and mole chocolate bitters with a toasted marshmallow on top. Hot chocolate lover? Consider the Spiked Drinking Chocolate made with chocolate, rum and crème de cacao. (There’s nonalcoholic hot cocoa, too.)
The suites aren’t the only places in the hotel to warm up by a fire. At the Street Bar, New England-inspired fare is served near a fireplace in a moody hideaway designed to conjure a 1920s speakeasy. Yet another fireplace awaits in the Library, where hotel guests can curl up on velvet and leather chairs and sofas with books from the Newbury’s collection.
The Newbury opened in 2021 in a building that almost a century ago was home to one of the first Ritz-Carlton hotels in the country. Today there are 286 rooms, along with Contessa, a rooftop Italian restaurant operated by Major Food Group (the hospitality company behind the Carbone restaurants). There is also a fitness center, as well as fireplaces to gather around after a stroll through the Public Garden, the first public botanical garden in the United States, across the street. From $600 a night.
The Catskills and Lake Placid, New York
Eastwind Oliverea Valley
Eastwind Lake Placid
Influenced by the idea of hygge, the new Eastwind Oliverea Valley opened in January in the Catskills with 27 cozy rooms and cabins that feature clean lines inspired by Scandinavian design. Some are free-standing wood A-frame cabins with private outdoor decks and private bathrooms nearby. Others are luxury cabins with decks, mini-fridges and en suite bathrooms. In the main guesthouse, some of the king rooms have lofts and skylights with netting beneath them so you can lie down and gaze up.
Bundle up to take in the season’s stark beauty on a hike right off the property, or go for a short drive to some of the most popular trailheads in the Catskill Forest Preserve’s Slide Mountain Wilderness, including Giant Ledge and Slide Mountain, the tallest peak in the Catskills. You may simply wish to stay put and stay warm in one of the dry saunas, or by joining fellow guests at a communal fire pit, by working up a sweat with a sunrise yoga class or by playing one of the board games available in the lobby (where you can purchase s’mores kits).
And don’t fret if making s’mores is the extent of your culinary abilities. A breakfast basket can be delivered to your door. There’s also Dandelion — a restaurant and bar from Daniel Cipriani, the restaurateur and a founder of Eastwind Hotels — which has an inviting fireplace and a “forage-to-table” menu. (You can drive 20 minutes or so to the longstanding Catskills staple, the Phoenicia Diner, as well.) From $279 a night.
Also worth noting: About four hours north of Eastwind Oliverea Valley is a sister property, Eastwind Lake Placid, which opened a few months ago in what was once a 1950s motor inn. Nowadays it’s a getaway with 25 rooms and cabins (some with fireplaces), a fire pit and a library with vintage books. You can try yoga and Pilates, rent bikes and skates, or pull on your boots and walk into town to window shop, food hop and amble around Mirror Lake. From $200 a night.
The Scottish Highlands
The Fife Arms
Nestled in Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands, the Fife Arms looks like a film set for a winter romance with its dark wood, taxidermy, tartan and tweed. A former Victorian coaching inn, it’s now owned by Iwan and Manuela Wirth of the art gallery Hauser & Wirth. So it’s no surprise the property is filled with historical objects and thousands of works of art, including some by Picasso and Man Ray, as well as a pencil-and-watercolor stag’s head by Queen Victoria.
Speaking of royals, after the Wirths’ restoration of the property, King Charles III and Camilla, the queen consort (known in Scotland at the time as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay), visited the Fife Arms to celebrate its reopening. The hotel is in the village of Braemar, where Queen Elizabeth II was a fixture at the Highland Games, and has 46 bedrooms that take the area’s stories, characters and history as their inspiration. Among them are suites that pay homage to the Victorian era, and rooms dedicated to nature and poets such as the Scottish writer Nan Shepherd. For an intimate winter nook, consider a croft room, where you can sleep in a cabin bed enclosed with panels and curtains.
When temperatures plunge, take refuge among the locals with “a pint and pie” at the Flying Stag, a pub adorned with antlers and a fantastical stag with the wings of a ptarmigan soaring above the bar. For Scottish specialties, there’s the Clunie Dining Room. Nightcaps may be had at Elsa’s Bar, named for the Italian-born fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, whose avant-garde creations were worn by Frances Farquharson, a fashion editor who married a Scottish laird and lived nearby. Or spend a winter’s night inside the sultry Bertie’s Whisky Bar, which takes its name from King Edward VII (known as Bertie to family and friends), where crimson velvet seats set the mood and tables with uplighting ensure the whisky glows as it’s poured into your glass. From 434 pounds a night, or about $438 (includes breakfast and VAT).
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Maswik South Lodge
Who needs a fireplace when you have a starry sky over the Grand Canyon?
Billing itself as the first new hotel inside the national park in more than 50 years, Maswik South Lodge opened last year in a ponderosa pine forest, within walking distance of the South Rim, making it easy to experience the canyon’s wintry majesty at any hour.
Part of the Maswik Lodge complex, Maswik South is meant to hark back to the site’s original 1920s motor lodge, when traveling by car to the national parks was first in vogue. After a multimillion-dollar reconstruction by Xanterra Travel Collection, the South Lodge now has four two-story buildings with 90 standard guest rooms and 30 kitchenettes. The standard rooms have mini-refrigerators, coffee makers, safes, satellite televisions and telephones. The kitchenette rooms also have larger refrigerators, microwaves and two-burner cooktops, as well as some cookware and utensils.
All of the guest rooms have outdoor spaces from which to breathe in the forest air, along with textiles that the hotel says were inspired by Native American artwork and color schemes that call to mind the canyon with shades of red, green and ocher. Electric-vehicle charging stations can be found around the south buildings. Over at the main lodge, there’s a food court and a pizza pub. (Note: The complex also has a North Lodge, which has not been renovated.) From $139 a night for Maswik South (North Lodge rates are from $99 a night).
Old Quebec City
When it comes to relishing winter, few places compare to the historic district of Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to one of the world’s grandest winter carnivals (this year’s festivities are Feb. 3 to 12). Even if you don’t sign up for “snow Zumba” or slide on an inner tube from atop the city’s fortified walls, the snowy romance of Old Quebec’s cobblestone streets and French-influenced architecture is reason enough to visit. There, in the Old Port, you’ll find Auberge Saint-Antoine, a Relais & Châteaux boutique hotel in three buildings, including what was once an 18th-century residence, a stone warehouse that dates to the 19th century, and a contemporary addition.
History buffs may enjoy seeing artifacts that were unearthed on the site displayed around the hotel. Yet while the property celebrates its past — guests can take complimentary tours to learn about those found objects as well as the hotel’s maritime warehouse, built in 1822 — its 95 rooms and suites have a contemporary feel. Some have gas fireplaces, yet all have that most luxurious of winter amenities: heated bathroom floors.
Pop into Bar Artefact for a cocktail in the fireplace nook with its floor-to-ceiling windows. Or for Canadian fare with an emphasis on local ingredients, head to Chez Muffy, where tables are arranged around a glass-enclosed fireplace in the maritime warehouse amid old stone walls, wooden beams, and views of the vast St. Lawrence River. From 285 Canadian dollars (about $213) a night based on double occupancy.
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