The Forte sisters, daughters of hotelier Sir Rocco Forte, are remarkably well-travelled, largely thanks to the family hotel business which they help to run. Irene oversees brand identity for the hotels, including Rome's Hotel de Russie and London's Brown's Hotel, while Lydia is in the enviable position of overseeing food and drink across the board, visiting a new hotel every week to try out dishes and craft new concepts. She recently launched Sophia's at The Charles Hotel in Munich as well as Spring at Hotel Savoy in Florence. This month, between hotel hops, they enjoyed some downtime at some of Europe's best Christmas markets. Here, they present six of their favorite finds.
"We adore the beautiful scenery at the Frankfurt Christmas Market on the Römerberg and Paulsplatz. There are gorgeous gifts to be found too, especially at the Römerhallen and St. Paul's Church where local artists sell handicrafts and at the Honey House where they sell everything honey-related, including wine and candles. Our very own Villa Kennedy is also very festive for the holidays - we've partnered with fashion house Etro this year to design a shimmering gold Christmas tree which is sitting pretty in the inner courtyard."
"The Christkindlmarkt at the Rathausplatz is a total treasure trove for holiday decorations and glass ornaments. It is set right in front of the city's town hall building, which is always adorned with the most beautiful display of Christmas lights, and there are tons of treats to snack on, including roasted chestnuts and candied fruits. We often wrap up our trips with an evening of Christmas concerts at the Vienna State Opera."
"We adore the Munich Christmas Market on Marienplatz! There are amazing glass blowers and wood carvers selling handmade crafts and beautiful Christmas ornaments, and there is always festive music coming from the balcony of New Town Hall. The highlight for us is the skating rink at Stachus, which you'll find if you stroll down Kaufinger Street. After a long day, we wind down at The Charles Hotel with some delicious homemade mulled wine."
"Copenhagen's Christmas Market is one of our all-time favorites... the Tivoli Gardens are transformed every year with thousands of fairy lights and decorated wooden houses. The mulled wine and apple pancakes are definitely a highlight, and we often pick up gifts like porcelain and traditional sweaters from one of the stalls."
"Berliner Weihnachtszeit is an absolute must-see if you find yourself in Berlin over Christmas. It's easy to find, you just have to look for the massive Ferris wheel lit up with Christmas lights! We always stop there for a cup of mulled wine and a quick trip on the wheel, which has amazing views of the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz. The best way to end the day is by taking in the view over wintery Berlin under cozy fur blankets at Hotel de Rome's rooftop Winter lounge."
"The Winter Wonders Christmas Market in Brussels is yet another favorite of ours. It stretches all the way from the Grand-Place, just next to Hotel Amigo, to the Place Ste. Catharine, and has a brilliant mix of traditional gifts, lively entertainment, food stalls and much more. We love to have a warming glass of the local drink ‘jenever’ whilst we listen to the carols."