(Photos courtesy of Flickr members pfala, melulou, and 12thSonOfLama)
They say "home is where the heart is," but for those of us with an extra sense of wanderlust, home is not always where we end up. For those who hope to spend the holiday season in a far-off place, the Tingo team has put together a list of 10 of the best destinations in which to do so. We've even included two different hotel options available on Tingo for each destination: a steal and a splurge (hurry, though, because a lot of them are selling out quickly!). If you book a hotel that can be canceled and the price of your reservation drops after you book, Tingo will automatically refund you the difference. And if a better room becomes available for less than what you originally paid, we'll let you know right away so you can snag it! Without further ado...
Strasbourg has been holding its Christmas Market since 1570. At the market, you can find holiday items like fir trees, Christmas decorations, ornaments, and handmade crafts. After you've finished strolling from chalet to chalet, collecting holiday trinkets and snacking on pastries and mulled wine, you can also admire the giant Christmas tree or skate on the rink on Place du Château.
Steal: The Hilton Strasbourg doesn't have much of a European feel, but the price can't be beat. It's located just a five-minute walk from a tram station, where you have access to the entire city. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $109 per night.
Splurge: Regent Petite France is located just a 15-minute walk from the Cathedral and features unbeatable views of the river. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $288 per night.
Quebec's Christmas celebration has a very traditional theme, featuring decorative nativity scenes and lit-up cobblestone streets and windowpanes. During the day, families can get a taste of adventure by hiking, snowshoeing, or skiing at Sentier des Caps de Charlevoix. In the evenings, there are candlelit readings of Charles Dickens stories to promote the holiday spirit.
Steal: Guests looking for a smaller hotel will enjoy Hôtel Champlain Vieux Québec. It's located in Old Quebec, so everything is within walking distance. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $132 per night.
Splurge: Hotel 71 is a modern-meets-vintage hotel in the heart of Quebec. It has nice views and tons of great amenities. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $202 per night.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
In San Miguel de Allende, Christmas is both a solemn and joyous holiday. Celebrations begin on December 16. Many locals reenact the passage to Bethlehem, and there are other theatrical presentations around town. The main square is used for fireworks, live entertainment, and dancing. Be sure to sample some ponche (a Mexican hot toddy made of fruit and brandy).
Steal: You can get quite the bang for your buck at Casa Mia Suites. The suites themselves are colorfully inviting. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $104 per night.
Splurge: Hotel Matilda is a bit pricey, but the money is well spent. The trendy hotel offers an unbeatable location, just blocks from the main square, and it's a fun, exciting place to stay. Holiday rates on Tingo are starting at an average of $266 per night.
Barcelonans like to keep the after-Christmas party going until January 6, Three King's Day. The three kings, Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthasar, arrive early that morning. The mayor provides them with keys to the city, and they are welcomed in with fireworks, cannons, and an enjoyable parade.
Steal: Hotel Aranea Barcelona is centrally located, with friendly staff and easy access to Metro stops. There are plenty of good restaurants in the area as well. Holiday rates on Tingo are starting at an average of $69 per night.
Splurge: ALMA Barcelona has beautiful, stylish, and sleek guest rooms. It's close to main attractions but also quiet and peaceful when needed. Extra serenity can be found on the hotel's outdoor patio. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $323 per night.
The people of Manila don't mess around when it comes to holiday celebrations. Their Christmas festivities go from September until January. Celebrations include festive light displays and strung-up lanterns made of paper and bamboo, so you'll feel like you're walking through a brightly colored winter wonderland.
Steal: Guijo Suites Makati requires a bit of a walk to the nearest shops and restaurants, so you'll need to hire a taxi driver, but it's comfortably nestled in a safe and quiet area. Holiday rates on Tingo for one of the vibrant suits are starting at an average of $45 per night.
Splurge: The Peninsula Manila is so beautiful that you'll never want to leave. The high ceilings in the lobby give the hotel's entrance an extra-luxurious feel. Plus, the hotel features live music almost all day long! Holiday rates on Tingo are starting at an average of $256 per night.
Bondi Beach, Australia
In Australia, summer starts on December 1, so the Christmas season at Bondi Beach is a little warmer than you may be used to. On Christmas Day, surfers celebrate by wearing Santa Claus outfits as they cruise through the waves. The party continues on the sand with festive trees, live music, and a giant beach party.
Steal: Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach offers a neat and tidy place to stay, with all the essentials and in a great location. It also has an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi, if you get tired of the sand on nearby Bondi Beach. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $275 per night.
Splurge: Meriton Serviced Apartments - Bondi Junction are top-of-the-line, luxurious spaces with jaw-dropping views of the skyline and harbor, upon request. The complex has a resort pool, a spa, a sauna, a gym, and tennis courts, and it's located only a stone's throw from Bondi Beach. Rates on Tingo are starting at an average of $1,328 per night.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Christmas comes early in New Orleans! Celebrations begin right after Thanksgiving. Don't forget to stop by Celebration in the Oaks, a holiday lights festival complete with Christmas trees, a two-mile train ride through the park, botanical gardens, and plenty of amusement-park rides.
Steal: Lafayette Hotel is located within walking distance of many New Orleans attractions. It's also right on the streetcar line, which makes it easier to access other places you might want to visit. Customer service at Lafayette is top-notch, and you can't beat the value. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $132 per night.
Splurge: Magnolia Mansion is a romantic bed-and-breakfast that is perfect for celebrating the holidays. Each private guest rooms has a different theme, including Southern Comfort, Mardi Gras, and Moulin Rouge, so you'll feel enveloped in history. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $311 per night.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Amsterdam hosts two holiday gift bearers: Sinterklaas and Santa Claus. Sinterklaas brings gifts on December 5, and Santa Claus comes later on December 25, which marks the beginning of Dutch Christmas. Dutch Christmas is a two-day celebration with tons of food, relaxation, and time with family and friends. Who wouldn't want to celebrate with two Santas and two days of Christmas parties?
Steal: Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam, located onto 10 minutes from the city center, is the perfect place to settle in for Dutch Christmas. After a good night's sleep in the comfortable guest rooms, you'll be ready to explore all Amsterdam has to offer. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $112 per night.
Splurge: De L'Europe Amsterdam is the perfect picture of historical Amsterdam. In fact, each room features an elegantly replicated Dutch Masters painting. It's situated on the river, and the views are beyond breathtaking. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $439 per night.
The Marienplatz (the central square in Munich) hosts a majestic 100-foot Christmas tree along with more than two dozen Christmas markets where travelers can stock up on holiday goodies. Mulled wine and gingerbread are served on a tram that crosses through the city, and live holiday music plays on the balcony of the town hall in evenings starting in late November.
Steal: Pullman Munich may not be located in the middle of it all, but its location allows you to stay in luxury at a fraction of the price. Plus, it's less than one block from public transportation, so access to the hustle and bustle of Munich is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $136 per night.
Splurge: Rocco Forte The Charles Hotel is one of the finest hotels in the city. It has a beautiful, elegant design, superb location, and top-notch service. It's nestled in the Old Botanical Gardens, tucked away from the city's noise, but still within walking distance of major attractions and restaurants. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $490 per night.
You can't mistake the beginning of the holiday season in Zurich. As soon as November 21 hits, a display of 12,000 crystal lights is put up for viewing and admiring. Switzerland is known for its amazing chocolate, so don't leave Zurich without trying a cup of hot cocoa while you stroll through the Christmas markets.
Steal: Sorell Hotel Rex, found only a few minutes from the center of Zurich, offers stylish, modern rooms with great amenities, including complimentary breakfast. Public transportation is located nearby, and the guest rooms are pretty big. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $216 per night.
Splurge: Park Hyatt Zurich is a sophisticated find in Zurich's commercial district, perfectly suited for holiday guests. The rooms offer fantastic views of Zurich, and the hotel has a health club, steam bath, and sauna for post-holiday relaxation. Holiday rates on Tingo are currently starting at an average of $762 per night.
About the Author: To learn more about George Hobica, visit him on Google+.