By Jenny Adams
December 14, 2015
Credit: Courtesy of Taj Boston

If you thought nothing could improve upon an evening by the fire more than a cup of hot cocoa and a great novel, think again. Hotels around the world are aiming to upgrade your fireside experience with everything from butlers carrying specialty menus of logs (who knew there was so much more to the aroma of a fire than just burning wood?) to stargazing with telescopes and herb sachets that perfume when burned.

The Taj in Boston, Massachusetts

Every winter, the hotel welcomes cold weather with a trained force of fireplace butlers dedicated to the property’s 42 luxury suites, which have wood-burning fireplaces. The butlers rhapsodize about the log menu, describing how birch burns quickly and produces high heat—ideal for a quick fire after a night out—while cherry burns long and low and has a vaguely fruity smell. Oak and maple (with its pancake-sweet scent) are also fine choices, and most guests like to try at least two different types during their stay. Another fireside perk? A brand new, dedicated cocktail and dessert list featuring hot toddies with honey from the Taj's rooftop and caramel chocolate bread pudding.

The Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Georgia

Picture this: blankets on the sand, a crackling campfire, and the sound of waves crashing. The Ritz-Carlton, unsurprisingly, goes over-the-top with their beachside bonfire option. The $180, 2-hour experience comes with a star map, a high-powered telescope, and an upscale presentation of hot chocolate and s’mores. The concierge can also direct dial you to the International Star Registry, just in case you want to get sentimental and name a star for your special night.

The Royalton, New York City

Ever heard of a wood sommelier? We hadn’t either, until this year. This season, you can enjoy the skills (and scents) of Ted Whitehead if you book one of The Royalton’s 55 fireplace suites. Whitehouse runs a Brooklyn-based company called The Woodman that specializes in creative, custom logs and accessories. He crafted a line of scented sachet packets for the hotel that, when burned, perfume your room. The choices are pecan, maple, hickory, cedar and apple—surprisingly floral, and a perfect match for the bar and kitchen’s contributions. If you’re burning the Apple Wood Sachet, order the apple beignets with cider caramel and a glass of sfumato (apple smoked, peach-infused Cointreau, peach puree, and Prosecco) from the elegant pairing menu designed to complement each specific fire scent.