Jane Reynolds

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.

1. Saint James Paris

St James

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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ice cream

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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rooftop pool

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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With rumors swirling of a run for the 2016 presidency, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been jet-setting around the country to attend various conferences and speak at numerous events, likely in order to drum up support. And, of course, with a potential campaign looming in the future comes plenty of research done to uncover just how Mrs. Clinton travels — and what she spends her hard-earned cash from her high-priced speaking engagements on. Yesterday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Clinton not only requires roundtrip transportation on a private jet — a $39 million, 16-person one, to be exact — but she also demands accommodations in the presidential suite at the hotel of her choice. Hey, if you wanna be president you gotta play the role as accurately as possible, right?! We’ve been lucky enough to have stayed in some pretty luxe digs that even Hillary approves of. So after the jump, check out some of our favorite hotels where Clinton has laid her head to rest — for both work and pleasure. We’ve even included the Las Vegas hotel where she successfully dodged a shoe[Las Vegas Review-Journal]
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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

The Caribbean oftentimes musters up images of massive beach resorts. Even some of the most luxurious options can be teeming with crowds that filter from the various restaurants to the packed beaches to the lively pool scene, frequented by both splashing kids and partying co-eds. But during our travels around the islands, we’ve also found plenty of quiet hidden gems. These beachfront boutiques have the look and vibe of a casual oceanside hut – but nonetheless deliver a hotel-like experience with on-site amenities and activities, and quaint, well-designed rooms. Explore our 10 favorite low-key properties on the Caribbean sands.

Coyaba Beach Resort, Jamaica

 Coyaba

For travelers who want to enjoy a resort experience but still prefer a more intimate hotel, the Coyaba Beach Resort is an attractive upper-middle-range option. The 50 plantation-style rooms are spacious, and guests won’t feel crowded or cramped at the private beach (even though it’s small). An all-inclusive option lets guests dine and drink on the property, and couples will likely appreciate the spa services, lush gardens providing shade and privacy, and the quiet pool.

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Who doesn’t love a good theme? We’re suckers for a little kitsch every now and then, and there’s something about the wild, wild West – cowboy hats and boots and all – that’s particularly endearing and fun. A western theme conjures up good ole days of yore, and it can make a property feel especially homey. That’s why we love these seven ranch-style hotels; from upscale estates spread across sprawling grounds to cheesy cowboy-themed properties, this list has the best of the best of the wild, wild West.

Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson

 Tanque Verde

This rustic, all-inclusive resort is a quintessential Western dude ranch surrounded by miles of gorgeous mountains and desert. The property borders Saguaro National Park East, where guests can enjoy guided horseback rides, hiking, and mountain biking. There’s also swimming, communal ranch meals, and kids’ activities, and sweeping wood-beam ceilings, stone fireplaces, and local artwork add to the ranch-like vibe.

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the hotelIt’s been a tough couple of years for Atlantic City, thanks in no small parts to the destruction Hurricane Sandy left in its wake. So as hotel experts who, like, really, love hotels, we kinda hate to break the news that yet another AC resort — this time, the luxe new-kid-on-the-block Revel — has announced it will be closing its doors. Over $1 billion in debt and with no potential bidders, the casino resort is the second of four hotels in recent months to close in the city; the Trump Plaza is scheduled to close in September. But let’s reflect on happier times, shall we? Like when Kanye announced that now-wife Kim Kardashian was pregnant during a concert at the resort. Or when Michelle Obama attended a Beyonce performance there. Or when our hotel expert got to nosh on these delicious fish tacos during her stay! We hate to use a pun, but we guess Revel just never got to experience beginner’s luck.

Take a walk down memory lane after the jump with pretty pics of this doomed property >>

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We hate to toot our own horn (or do we?), but we here at Oyster are kinda famous for our photo fakeouts. Basically, we put the photos that we took at hotels in person next to the hotels’ marketing photos to see if they line up. Well, spoiler alert: They often don’t. Whether it’s some sneaky cropping, over-the-top staging, or serious editing, marketing photos frequently make properties appear way more luxe (or modern or serene) than they actually are. During our travels we’ve found plenty of hotels guilty of a little marketing magic, and our latest round of fakeouts is no exception. Click through here to see some major fakeouts!

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We’re always looking for an excuse to go on vacation, and thanks in large part to pregnant celebrities, “babymoons” are becoming a very real thing. Basically considered a rite of passage — much like a honeymoon or an anniversary getaway — babymoons are trips that couples take when expecting, and they usually involve plenty of time for relaxing on the beach, in the spa, and by the pool while sipping (virgin) cocktails. Most celebs make for the Caribbean to celebrate their incoming spawn, but some also stay stateside and even go somewhere their little nugget might eventually enjoy. (Holly Madison took her bump to Disney!) So if you’ve got a baby on board (or not!), here are six celebrity-approved babymoon hotels. And if you know anything about celebrities, you know these spots are downright gorgeous.

The Hotel: Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia

Jade Mountain

The Celebrity: Vanessa Lachey

Just last week, Vanessa announced that she and husband Nick Lachey are expecting baby number two — a sweet little girl to join older brother Camden. We wouldn’t be surprised if the duo celebrates the news by returning to Jade Mountain, where they escaped for their first babymoon back in 2012. Getting to the secluded St. Lucia resort can be tedious – especially for a pregnant person – but its organic cuisine doting service, unwavering silence (no TVs, radios, or children — sorry, Camden!), and extraordinary design (which means breathtaking views) make the long journey worthwhile.

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We’ve been spending our summer in Italy. Tough, we know. And we’ve visited some pretty amazing hotels during our stay. We’ve toured gorgeous palazzos, stepped into rustic farmhouses, and perused canal-side properties. But some of our favorite hotels have been those tucked into the hills of the Italian countryside, where natural thermal baths are considered standard. (But, with calming waters, soothing temperatures, and beautiful surroundings, are anything but.) Here we bring you three totally romantic Italian escapes — made all the more romantic with sexy thermal springs for an utterly relaxing, rejuvenating vacation.

Hotel Saturno Fonte Pura

Hotel Saturno 1

An intimate, family-like atmosphere pervades this hotel and spa in the Tuscan countryside. The 25 rooms are laid out around well-kept grounds, and the conscientiously maintained outdoor pools are sourced from the hotel’s private spring, one of Saturnia’s famous naturally occurring thermal waters. These two thermal pools are the hotel’s main attraction, and are kept at their naturally occurring temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). A hot tub and a full menu of spa services round out the options; many guests have claimed that, since the owner changes the pool waters daily, the facilities are the cleanest in town. Other perks include the excellent restaurant, which serves local fare in a country-style dining room, the lovely grounds, and the sweeping views of the countryside. 

Hotel Saturno 2

Hotel Saturno 3

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