The two-story, walk-in, 7,750-brick gingerbread house is back to spice up San Francisco’s holiday season, and the icing on the cake is that you can book a dinner inside of it.
Nob Hill’s esteemed Fairmont San Francisco has been placing its famed life-size gingerbread house in the lobby for 13 years now, but this year the architectural gingerbread marvel has snowballed into something bigger, better, and sweeter than ever.
The 2023 incarnation boasts 7,750 real gingerbread bricks, 1,500 pounds of royal icing, and 700 pounds of candy, a task requiring so much work that the project began in July. But this feast for the eyes is now on display at the Fairmont through New Year's.
“The Fairmont San Francisco has been building the famed Gingerbread House for more than 10 years,” Fairmont Hotels spokesperson Michelle Heston tells SFist. “Each year the team takes great pride in enhancing, expanding and adding more holiday magic.”
The 2023 Fairmont gingerbread house towers two stories tall; 22 feet high and 23 feet wide. And its halls are decked with a dazzling array of Christmas lights, plus detailed accessories of edible gumdrops, gingerbread cookies, candy canes, and peppermint balls.
“The Pastry Shop spends approximately 375 hours creating the gingerbread house,” Heston says. “The Engineering Department works 520 hours to construct its framework.”
And for good measure, there are chocolate Santas, too. “For the past several years, the hotel has partnered with See’s Candies,” she explains. “They provide all the candy for the decoration of the house.”
But you will notice that some of the edible house accessories have been plucked — particularly those at kids-arm level. All of them will be replaced by hand the following morning.
“Kids and ‘kids at heart’ often find it too tempting not to take a bite or swipe a candy,” according to Heston. “Each early morning, the pastry department elves work to replace missing candies.”
Absolutely anyone can enter the life-size Fairmont gingerbread house walk-in area (which has a working train). Its 10½-foot clearance is welcoming to both Tiny Tims and the tallest of Tims.
And the gingerbread house is open to the public, located in a lobby area that does not require hotel registration. But yes, you can book a dining experience inside the “private Gingerbread” for up to eight guests. Booking information is available here, though prices are not listed. Last year it was a $300 reservation, with a $1,200 minimum on food and beverage. So you’re probably looking at $1,500-plus experience, just to manage expectations.
But again, the Fairmont gingerbread house is absolutely free to visit and enjoy for anyone, and kids of all ages. (For kids of a certain age, there is a Lobby Champagne Bar.) Plus the gingerbread house is sustainably built. “In maintaining the hotel’s commitment to the environment, each year the framework is recycled, and the edible ingredients are composted,” Heston says.
The Fairmont gingerbread house is on display daily through the New Year, from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., at 950 Mason Street (at California Street). And for other festive Fairmont attractions, there’s a Holiday Tea at 1 p.m. on Thursdays through Sundays, and Santa Suites packages for holly, jolly overnighters.