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The Westin St. Francis Hotel has created a 12-foot, rotating French chateau made of sugar.
It’s that season where the Nutcracker brings us to the Land of Sweets and suddenly everyone’s baking, and there are candy canes and sugar lanes aglow. For lucky San Franciscans, and those who can travel there, a gigantic sugar castle will be unveiled this week in the lobby of the historic and gorgeous Westin Saint Francis hotel. Everyone’s invited—there’s even free hot cocoa and cookies to sweeten the deal.
The 12-foot, rotating fairytale French chateau is the work of hotel’s executive pastry chef Jean-François Houdré, who previously worked as pastry cook at the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point, CA. He and his family were inspired by trips to the Bordeaux region in France, where real-life castles seemed to invite re-envisioning in sugar. As legend has it, his children talked him into building a sugar castle to rival France’s royal castles so that other children could visit it during the holidays. For this labor, Houdré is known as King of the Castle.
Since 2005, the sugar castle has been a staple of holiday merrymaking in San Francisco’s Union Square, each year getting more elaborate. The hotel itself is a magnificent 1904 structure that has survived two major earthquakes, and its beautiful lobby holds multiple Christmas trees and garlands, while across the street Union Square also decks itself out for the holidays with a huge tree and skating rink (and kitty-corner Macy’s also goes all out). If you want to really eke all the feels out of this, take the cable car to the St. Francis; it stops right outside the door.
As Houdré’s Instagram feed illustrates, back in July he was already working on fashioning the castle’s towers and ramparts for this month’s reveal. The confectionery beast weighs more than 1,300 pounds and showcases more than 20 staggered towers with illuminated windows and 30 rooms. Around its circumference, a train circles a quaint village.
Along with the spectacle of the castle, there’s a Sweet Boutique with lots of pastries and gingerbread ‘Castle Bites’ to bring home a bit of the castle as well as the POP! Lounge with champagne. (Santa can also have breakfast with you!) Here are the deets: the castle’s unveiling is Nov 23 at 11am, and it’s available for viewing thereafter. The Sweet Boutique opens Nov 26 and runs through Dec 18, open daily 11am–4pm.
Ready to go all in? The Macy’s Shopping Package, starting at $279, includes a night at the St. Francis with complimentary Wifi access and a $100 Macy’s gift certificate. 
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