Festive Season 2016 - With Rocco Forte Hotels

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From the enchanting markets of Berlin, to the sparkling lights of St Petersburg to the Tuscan festive delicacies of Florence; read the recommendations from Rocco Forte Hotels' Concierges for this Christmas explorations of bustling city markets while immersing yourselves in the Christmas celebrations of the cities.

Florence - Hotel Savoy
The main Christmas market of Florence is based in the beautiful Piazza Santa Croce. Incorporating the traditional German style, small wooden chalets house all kinds of seasonal gifts, from decorations to Tuscan delicacies. This mix of influence creates a diverse range of gastronomic treats, from Florentine Panforte, a spiced fruitcake, to German bratwurst sausage. Guests can enjoy the lively festivities of other small markets that dot the streets of Florence and admire the beautifully lit Florentine monuments, such as the Church of Santa Maria Novella, a particularly bustling spot during the Christmas period. As the Savoy is in the heart of the city, guests will be able to hear the glorious sounds of church choral performances whilst exploring. If tempted by midnight mass at Il Duomo, before leaving, guests may like to try the authentic Italian culinary experience of the Savoy restaurant, Irene.

Rome - Hotel de Russie
The city of Rome appears enchanted during the festive season. The lit up Piazza Navona plays host to the Mercatini di Natale, a sea of market stalls filled with ornaments, gifts and figures of La Befana, as well as delicious treats such as the traditional bread, Pandoro. In traditional Italian style, nativity scenes flank the streets and churches, the most impressive at St Peters Square. After tasting the divine Panettone and other Italian delicacies that the hotel has on offer, guests should wander up the Via dei Condotti, alive under the Christmas lights, to the Spanish steps to see the flickering candles that line each step, the centre of festivities of the Eternal City.

London - Brown’s Hotel
Following a seasonal Traditional Afternoon Tea in The English Tea Room, guests of Brown’s Hotel can wander around the festively lit streets of London. With an outstanding selection of luxury boutiques on Brown’s doorstep, guests may linger to buy gifts for others or even themselves. Guests should cross the river to The Winter Festival where traditional British tales such as A Christmas Carol are performed in intimate arenas, whilst unique maker market stalls line the river bank selling jewellery and ornaments. The festive activities continue in Hyde Park, where ice skating rinks and sparkling lights fill the city with an electric atmosphere.

Edinburgh - The Balmoral
The city of Edinburgh is transformed each Christmas by magnificent festival that takes over St Andrew Square and East Princes St Gardens. Guests can watch a host of shows in the Spiegeltent, and then go gift hunting in the traditional Scottish market to find the perfect woolly hat. The authentic European Market allows guests to step into the Continent, and sample some German mulled wine and other tasty delights. By ensuring a stay over New Years Eve, guests will be able to experience the spectacular celebrations of Hogmanay at The Balmoral. With bagpipes and drums, champagne and canapés, and traditional Highland Dancers performing the Highland Fling, the celebrations at the Balmoral continue into the wee hours of the morning. The Hogmanay celebrations are city wide, with the explosive firework display at midnight, lighting up the city of Edinburgh.

Munich - The Charles Hotel
The Christkindl Market of Munich is known world over for its traditional Bavarian delights. Guests of The Charles Hotel can wander over to Marienplatz and browse traditional toys and ornaments whilst sampling some of the delicious gingerbread and kletznbrot, a traditional type of bread. Guests can peruse the glass ornaments and other original craft works with a glass of mulled wine in hand, as the carols carry from the balcony of the town hall into the crowds below. Guests can head to Winter Tollwood for lively concerts and entertainment, some choosing to delve even deeper into Munich’s festive history with a guided tour. After a bustling afternoon, Sophia’s Restaurant & Bar at The Charles Hotel is the perfect place to unwind, whilst admiring the fascinating Lenbach artworks.

Berlin - Hotel de Rome
The city centre of Berlin is a maze of Christmas markets during the festive period. With over fifty choices, guests of the Hotel de Rome can stroll through the city centre, experiencing the incredible festive atmosphere. From the toboggan run of Winter World on Potsdamer Place to the traditional chalets at Spandau, the bustling city is alive with festivities. Hotel guests can walk into the courtyard of Britz Palace and be transported back in time to a Nordic fairy tale Christmas. Medieval craftsmen create leather gifts, and encourage visitors to experiment decorating gingerbread. The space becomes filled with warming, festive aromas, inviting a taste of some roasted almonds and a warming glass of mulled wine, whilst wandering through, picking out the perfect gift. There is an abundance of treasures to seek out, from innovative artworks to stylish jewellery. When weary, guests can curl up under blankets on the Rooftop Bar of Hotel de Rome and watch the festivities continue.

Frankfurt - Villa Kennedy
The Weihnachtsmarkt in Frankfurt is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany, dating back to 1393. Beautifully decorated stalls selling traditional handicrafts fill the Romerberg market place, circling the 30 metre high Christmas tree. Guests of Villa Kennedy can grab a mug of gluhwein and watch the trumpet fanfares on the balcony of St. Nicholas’s Church after sifting through the stalls’ artworks and wooden toys for potential Christmas gifts. Upon returning to the hotel, the menu at Gusto leaves guests with an incredible selection of delicious seasonal dishes to choose from.

St Petersburg - Hotel Astoria
With the official holiday of Christmas celebrated on 7th January in Russia, there is plenty of time to explore St Petersburg in all its seasonal glory. The snow covered city is host to the Russian Winter Festival which offers troika rides and folk music, amongst many other activities. Markets are situated across the city, where guests will find a magnitude of gifts, ranging from traditional Russian handicrafts such as nesting dolls, to mouth watering local blinis, similar to pancakes. When heading back to the Astoria, guests can walk Nevsky Prospect, one of Russia’s most famous streets, and take in the beautiful illuminated decorations.

Brussels - Hotel Amigo
The Winter Wonders Christmas Market illuminates the heart of Brussels. Stretching from the Grand Place to the Place St Katharine, guests of Hotel Amigo can enjoy the diverse range of traditional gifts to the lively entertainment of performance artists as they amble through the vibrant streets. Guests will find unique keep sakes from amongst the 240 traditional wooden stalls, whilst marching bands and choirs add to the festive mood. Enjoy the carols and browse the unique Christmas ornaments whilst tasting a warming glass of the local drink ‘jenever’, that will be sure to encourage a spin on the ice rink. After experiencing the excitement of the market, guests can head back to Hotel Amigo for a festive aperitif.

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