1. Grand Salon of the Queen Mary Hotel, Long Beach: We can't think of a better way to evoke the pilgrim spirit than to spend Thanksgiving on a former transatlantic liner which brought over a few immigrants of its own. For a very reasonable $49, the former first class dining room will open to you as a champagne-fueled grand buffet, featuring a slew of stations for everything from traditional fare and breakfast to pasta and "Mexican delights." For those with kids in tow, the Queen Mary offers a buffet island just for them, at $12 per child. For reservations, call The Queen Mary at (562) 499-1606.
2. Lockwood at The Palmer House Hilton, Chicago: Snuggled next to the El tracks of Chicago's Loop district, The Palmer House Hilton wallows in its grande dame luxury and history, and its Thanksgiving buffet is sure to be quite the civilized affair. $65 for adults or $25 for children gives you access to tummy-pleasers like chestnut soup with wild mushrooms, braised sweet potatoes, free-range chicken in red wine sauce and a variety of carved meats. Similar to the Queen Mary, this feast includes a bottomless glass of champagne, or sparkling cider for the kids. Reservations are required, so give them a ring right now: (312) 621-7360.
3. Flavors at Harrah's Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas: You can't talk about buffets and not mention Las Vegas; Sin City knows all there is about unrepentant gluttony. While it seems like everyone and their gambling mother will be lining up at the Wynn or Bellagio's buffets, we're drooling over the prospects of shorter lines and lots of "Cornish Game Hen Basted in Orange Liquor" at Harrah's Flavors buffet. At just $21.99 for adults and $9.99 for kids, Harrah's is also the most recession-friendly of our picks, which means more money for post-buffet slots. May we recommend first gawking at their full menu here.
4. 2 West at The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park, New York: Sadly, New York suffers when it comes to buffets; most hotel Thanksgiving meals are served prix fixe or with a plated entree. We say that's no fun, and instead turn to the Ritz's $92 spread to get what we want. Expect super succulent turkey and fancily-displayed mini desserts. While the price is high and location out of the way (it's at the very tip of Manhattan), 2 West stands out for its excellent service reputation and another promise of flowing champagne. Just make sure to sneak up to Rise, their 14th-story bar, to digest the view of NY harbor. Call for reservations: (212) 344-0800.
5. The Oak Room at The Westin St. Francis, San Francisco: Like the Queen Mary, The Oak Room will dazzle with its atmosphere of old world elegance paired with all the Alaskan snow crab legs you can eat. We think any buffet with "lobster whipped potatoes" on offer is just asking for trouble on a holiday revolving around overdosing on carbs. Soak in the views and forget for a moment about cholesterol. $79 for adults and $37 for kids (ew, pricey). Call (415) 774-0264 for reservations or hit them up at OpenTable.
As there's simply not enough of us to hit all the hotel buffets around the country, let us know in the comments if you too took the hotel route this holiday. Happy eating and sleeping!
[Photo of the dining room aboard the Queen Mary: Chris&Steve]