Many hotels were not born as hotels. Some first served as prisons, or hat factories, or even lemon distilleries. And some had, shall we say, loftier first lives — as the residences (often, the second, third, or fourth homes) of royalty. That’s right. We’ve stayed at hotels — from the Amalfi Coast to the Irish countryside – that were once the official residences of royals, but have since shed their former titles to serve the lowlier, “ill-bred” set like us. But fortunately, we’ve still been given the royal treatment at each. Check out these eight gorgeous hotels that kings, queens, and counts once called home.
Unlike most hotels in the cliffside town of Positano that require a steep walk to reach the beach and town center, the Palazzo Murat is located smack in the town center’s pedestrian zone. It dates back to the 17th century, and for a while it was the extravagant summer home of Napoleon’s brother-in-law and King of Naples, Gioacchino Murat. Its historic opulence is evidenced by intricately cut stone doors and window frames, refurbished tile mosaics, and wooden furniture. With a pristine pool and some nice freebies, Palazzo Murat is ideal for travelers who want to stay in historic lodgings in the heart of the action — but it lacks the gorgeous ocean views of nearby cliffside hotels.
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A hotel has “made it” when it’s honored as a Relais & Chateaux property. After all, established in 1954 in France (mais bien sur?!), this exclusive association is made up of just about 500 hotels and restaurants, combined, that introduce guests “to a deeper, truer understanding of the Art of Living.” Or, in much simpler Oyster terms, they show guests a darn good time by providing gorgeous rooms, luxurious facilities and amenities, and top-notch service. We’ve been lucky enough to have stayed in quite a few of these R&C properties (don’t get too jealous — as hotel experts, we also have to stay in spots like this), and here bring you the real creme de la creme of the best of the best.
It makes sense to start in grand Paris, non? With a sweeping private entrance surrounded by green lawns and an impressive fountain, the upscale Saint James is a rare find in Paris — in fact, the 19th century manor is considered the only chateau-hotel in the city. It’s fitting that the hotel is located in the wealthy 16th arrondissement (and yes, valet parking is included). The 48 rooms and suites are large by Paris standards, and decorated in plush luxurious fabrics. But the common areas are more impressive — especially the black and white grand staircase on the main floor. The terrace is a beautiful spot for lunch on a nice summer day. And there’s also a small fitness center, a spa, and a gourmet restaurant. The rates here are steep, but guests who want to experience luxury in Paris (and can afford it) should give the Saint James a look.
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During the summer, it’s almost impossible to stay indoors come happy hour. While the cooler months — spent with friends crowding in cozy bars and huddling by the fire — are fast approaching, there’s still time for some rooftop boozin’ — and fortunately, enjoying the sun and stars with a drink in hand is made easy at some of our favorite hotels. Offering stunning vistas and delicious cocktails, these rooftop bars are destinations unto to themselves in cities far and wide.
The Refinery Hotel is a stylish urban boutique in New York‘s Garment District, located in a historic building that was once a tea salon and hat factory. The property’s past inspired its present industrial-chic design, and small details such as decorative milliner’s tools pay homage to the building’s former function. The property’s cool rooftop bar — aptly named Refinery Rooftop — offers gorgeous views of the Empire State Building and a rotating menu of seasonal cocktails designed by Alex Ott. Reservations are recommended at this swanky spot where DJs are known to perform on Thursday and Friday nights — but guests of the hotel may have a leg up on getting through the door. Read More »
Newsflash! Visiting the world’s most expensive cities doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be forced to stay in the world’s most expensive hotels. Though the suite life can be tempting when hoteling in the globe’s most affluent destinations, what’s feasible for the rich and famous often doesn’t align with what’s feasible for the rest of us. Thankfully, there are fantastic budget options in pricey towns that offer a lot of bang for your buck — so you can use that extra cash towards your eight-euro bottle of water. From London to Singapore and back again, we’ve got the lowdown on hotels that won’t break your bank…in cities that threaten to do just that! Though some cities are even too rich for Oyster’s blood — we’ll get to you soon Lausanne! — here are our top picks for the best budget stays in the world’s most expensive cities.
The Generator Hostel represents a new type of high-end “hostelling” which puts a real emphasis on creating fun, chilled-out atmospheres conducive to interaction between guests. The Generator is one such property and is a good choice for both young solo travelers and groups, offering dorms for up to 12 people as well as private rooms (though some are cramped). The cafe, bar, and cinema room are all great spaces to relax, and the hostel’s event program is a nice touch. There are few properties with as good a central London location that also promise such a snazzy vibe on the cheap in the world’s most expensive city.
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Even if you never took an astronomy class in college, you can still appreciate looking up at the night sky and seeing an infinite number of twinkling stars. Stargazing is often associated with camping or the viewing of once-every-few-months meteor showers, but — with so many stars in the sky — it can really be done whenever…the where is more important. Secluded areas away from the bright lights of the city are best for admiring the flickering sky and searching for constellations, and some hotels in these secluded spots are best suited for stargazing as well. Whether they have their own telescopes on hand or offer stargazing sessions with an astronomer, these 12 hotels provide perfect settings for an evening enjoying the view above.
This renovated guest ranch is Tucson’s oldest resort and one of its most popular. Outdoor activities abound at the upscale property, which offers three saline pools, horseback riding and hiking trails, volleyball, basketball, and eight tennis courts. Big rooms and two highly regarded restaurants at Westward Look Resort overlook the serene mountains and city lights. Nature is everywhere at this property with the various gardens, including a butterfly and hummingbird garden. Another highlight is the telescope on hand, perfect for guests to view the desert night sky. If that’s not enough, travelers can drive about an hour and a half to the Kitt Peak National Observatory; it’s home to the world’s largest collection of optical telescopes and hosts nightly observing programs.
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There’s something so cozy about watching a movie, both solo and with a crew. If you don’t want to hole up in your room with pay-per-view while on vacation, there are many hotels where you can still catch a flick without leaving the property. Some hotels offer movie nights for their guests – whether it’s curled up on a comfy couch indoors or outside lounging by the pool — giving vacationers a chance to unwind in front of a big screen. Many are geared toward little ones so that parents can enjoy some alone time, while others are a chance for travelers to meet and participate in activities together. No matter if you’re away on business or having a family vacation, grab some popcorn, sit back, relax, and watch the show. We definitely give the following 10 hotels two thumbs up!
The Bitter End Yacht Club, snuggled into a steep hill on the scenic North Sound, is a relaxed, family-friendly resort. The tech-free rooms (no TVs or Wi-Fi here) feature stunning views from the balconies, and the sliding doors allows breezes to sweep through; some rooms do not have air-conditioning but most guests find they don’t miss it. While some rooms could use renovations, guests are here for the white-sand beaches that offer plenty of water sports and relatively calm waters. Although popular among couples, the hotel also caters toward families; each night two movies are screened at The Sand Palace, next to the lobby. The movies are all rated G, PG, or PG-13 and popcorn is provided. Adults may want to send their kids to watch the movie while they enjoy a meal at the Clubhouse Grille next door.
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1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Is this too good to be true?! Through mid-September, the Gansevoort Park Avenue‘s outdoor gelato cart is giving away free scoops every Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m.
2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? At last night’s Netflix Emmys after-party at the iconic Chateau Marmont, Lindsay Lohan racked up a tab of over $40,000 for items such as cigarettes and minibar munchies.
3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The luxe SLS brand, with properties in Beverly Hills and South Beach, just opened its first hotel in Las Vegas.
4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? A Hazmat team was called into a Seattle hotel yesterday after medics had to treat 17 guests for sickness caused by a strong, unknown odor.
5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? All Ritz-Carlton properties, such as the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta and the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, now offer an app with real-time service requests, so you can put in your room service order over your smartphone.
Check out the answers after the jump!
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New York City is a one-of-a-kind town. So it only seems right that your stay in the Big Apple be one-of-a-kind as well. Forget chain hotels with cookie cutter appointments: In NYC, there is a new and exciting hotel waiting to be discovered on nearly every street corner (you just probably haven’t noticed them before). Whether you want to stay in a classic brownstone that doubles as an art gallery, or you prefer a high-design, budget-friendly hostel, New York City has it all — and Oyster has been lucky enough to have seen them all in our travels. Here are a dozen of our favorite unique hotel stays in New York City.
This charming, cozy inn is a hidden gem — quite literally. There is no hotel sign at all, and from the street, the two 19th-century, red-brick townhouses that make up the property could be mistaken for residential homes. And it’s this — coupled with an attention to detail and old-world charm – that sets this quaint boutique hotel apart from the rest of the city’s smaller stays. The Inn at Irving Place‘s 12 rooms have been individually decorated with period antiques and fireplaces, and feature modern amenities, such as flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi. The property lacks most of the amenities of larger hotels, including a fitness center and a full restaurant — but it does offer an elegant tea salon (the famous Lady Mendyll’s), a central location a block from Union Square, and an intimate feel that’s hard to come by in bustling New York City. Read More »
Sure, Labor Day has come to be synonymous with the beach and end-of-summer parties, but it’s actually a holiday with more industrious beginnings. In 1882, the first Labor Day was held in New York City to create a holiday for workers, thanks to the efforts of the Central Labor Union; the group wanted a day to allow the public to appreciate and acknowledge the work of the trade and labor organizations. Made a federal holiday in 1894, Labor Day has become more and more celebratory throughout its 120 years and often features parades, music, food, and all-around festivities. Many of the biggest parades occur in smaller cities throughout the country, so if you’re still looking for something to do before we say farewell to summer, consider a trip to these locales! These eight parades are sure to make for an afternoon of family-friendly fun!
Charlotte may be a bustling city these days, but it still retains its southern charm. Freedom Park, the Rosedale Plantation, and one of the country’s best symphony and operas can all be found in this lovely North Carolina destination. The historic city will be celebrating the three-day weekend by hosting a Labor Day Parade with the theme “An old-fashioned parade, union-made!” Next Monday, the parade will begin at 11:00 a.m. at the Hal Marshall Center. Expect to see local union floats, beauty queens, and political candidates.
Stay: Charlotte Marriott City Center
The Charlotte Marriott City Center hotel is a quick 13-minute walk to the parade starting point. The hotel boasts spacious rooms, the acclaimed Savannah Red Restaurant, and a cool cigar bar.
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Electra Palace Hotel Athens is a beautiful luxury property with 150 rooms in the neighborhood of Plaka. The grounds and facilities are gorgeous, featuring an outdoor garden with manicured lawns and a pavilion where guests can enjoy the free breakfast. The rooftop restaurant, pool, and surrounding deck offer stunning views of the Acropolis. The hotel has a spa with a large indoor and hot tub, as well as a fitness center. Rooms offer classical decor with crown molding, wooden floors, and area rugs. From the gold lettering and five stars crowning the hotel’s entrance to the five-tiered chandelier hanging from the lobby ceiling, Electra Palace specializes in opulent details and fabulous stays.
See more beautiful pics of the Electra Palace after the jump >>
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