Although many of us increasingly shop online for our holiday gifts, nothing quite replaces the idea of heading to a city for special items, along with a bit of winter food, fun, and relaxation. We've rounded up a handful of promotions designed to make holiday-related travel easier, whether you're responding to the call of family, shopping, or any other occasion, and in destinations warm or cold, larger or small.
The Affinia Manhattan (tel. 212/563-1800; www.affinia.com) "Miracle on 31st Street" package starts at $239 per night and includes a whole bunch of holiday fun: a VIP skating package at Bryant Park, free hot chocolate, two free skate rentals; a ten% off savings pass and tote bag for Macy's; two holiday cocktails at the hotel bar, in-room products from Israeli body care line Ahava; and cookies, hot cocoa and other in-room treats. This package reflects a savings of $125 and is offered through December 30 based on availability. The hotel is located across the street from Madison Square Garden, Penn Station and within easy walking distance of both Times Square and Macy's. Oh -- one more thing. You can borrow the film Miracle On 34th Street and watch it in your room after a long day of shopping.
For something outside the bigger cities, Bed and Breakfast.com (tel. 800/462-2632; www.bedandbreakfast.com), you can save $50 if you reserve two nights at select properties, from Inns in New England (think Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine) to spots in New Mexico, Virginia, Washington and Texas, but you must book by December 18. Make sure you enter the BBHOLIDAY50 code when you book.
CheapOstay (tel. 866/466-8827; www.cheapostay.com) says you may save "up to 50%" on hotel rooms through its holiday season sale; you can also save an additional $15 using the promo code "Holiday15." To that end, you the Humphreys Half Moon Inn, located in San Diego, is available from $64; the Falls Plaza Hotel in Toronto from $68; and even Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas starts from $52 for stays December 14-17.
Washington, D.C.'s recently restored Hamilton Crowne Plaza (tel. 877/834-3613; www.ichotelsgroup.com) a few blocks from the White House, cut rates by 50% for weekend stays to $79 for Thursday-Sunday stays, now through January. That's not all, though; it becomes a daily rate for travel December 17-30 on a daily basis, depending on room availability. You must book online to take advantage of the offer, though.
Hotels.com is running a holiday sale of up to 30% (tel. 800/2-HOTELS; www.hotels.com) at select hotels in cities large and small, warm and cold. Stay in San Francisco at the historic Hotel Whitcomb, available from $79, or the boutique Park Central Hotel in New York City from $195, or Hotel 71, which overlooks the Riverwalk in Chicago, from $79. For those who head south for part of the season, choose among the likes of Aruba from $88 at the Brickell Bay Beach Club and Mexico; Cancun's three-star, all-inclusive Royal Solaris from $40 but an upgrade to four-star ME by Melia starts at only $105. You can stay in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, at Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa from $105, or on Kauai, Hawaii, from $84. You must book by December 28 for travel December 14-28; a minimum stay may be required depending on the stipulations of each property.
San Francisco's Westin on Market Street (tel. 415/974-6400; www.starwoodhotels.com) slashed its rates to $119 per night for the week leading up to and after Christmas -- from December 20 to 30. It's close to the Museum of Modern Art and Union Square. The trolley can take you anywhere else you need to go for holiday shopping. Further south in Los Angeles, the Westin Bonaventure (tel. 888/625-5144; www.starwoodhotels.com), is priced from just $99 for stays December 17-29. The rate reflects $100 in savings, at the least, and includes free continental breakfast for two. You may recognize the hotel's downtown location or its features; it's been featured in the television show CSI and in the film Mission: Impossible III, and is close to the financial district. The booking deadline is December 14.
New Orleans is festive any time of year, and Christmas is no exception. The Soniat House (tel. 800/544-8808; www.soniathouse.com), which dates to the 1830s, is available from $185 per night for weekdays and $225 per night on weekends. If you're lucky, you can receive a free upgrade. The rates are valid for stays through December 27, based on availability. The House is actually a series of townhouses (three of them) with a total of 33 guest rooms. With its wrought-iron detailing, spiral staircases, beautiful dÃ©cor, daily breakfast, and special treats for the holidays available for guests, the Soniat House is located in a quiet, residential section of the French Quarter.