Jane Reynolds

Many hotels that we visit are housed in brand-spanking-new buildings, erected in recent years for the sole purpose of being the site of that “just opened” Marriott or Four Seasons. But some properties, recently opened ones and historic ones alike, instead reinvent old spaces to create the hotels that visitors call home during their vacations. And some of these old buildings have quite the story to tell! From prisons to plantations, the 10 hotels on this list were once the sites of quite different operations, and all have storied – whether eerie or interesting or just downright weird – pasts.

 Liberty Hotel, Boston

Liberty Hotel

For nearly 150 years, this tall granite building was known as the Charles Street Jail and housed some of Boston’s most heinous criminals. In 2007, after a painstaking restoration that preserved elements of the prison design, it reopened as the Liberty Hotel. The result is stunning, with nearly 300 rooms, a 90-foot-tall atrium, winding catwalks, and high, circular windows that flood the lobby with light. The hotel’s popular restaurants and bars play on the jailhouse theme with names like Alibi, Clink, and The Yard.

____________________________________________________

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

plaza atheneeThe uber-luxurious Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris reopened today (at 7 a.m. to be exact) in a belated celebration of its centennial. While the overall design and vibe of the hotel has reportedly remained true to its classic roots of iconic elegance, the hotel closed in October of last year in order to commence renovations on a recently-acquired townhouse next door, which meant the addition of six new rooms, eight suites, and several event spaces, including a ballroom. The hotel’s restaurants — including the famed Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée and La Galerie des Gobelins – also received a redesign.

But while the reopening of its doors certainly marks a triumph, the Plaza Athenee has seen a mix of both good and bad press this year. Part of the Dorchester Collection, it is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, who’s recent decision to implement sharia law in his home country led many, including celebrities, to boycott his properties. This Parisian property is perhaps the most upscale of the collection; iconic red awnings and chestnut trees welcome guests to the historic setting, on the upscale Avenue Montaigne location with direct views of the Eiffel Tower. The rooms and suites are decorated in classic Art Deco style with modern touches like flat-screen TVs and marble baths, and with six distinct restaurants, a large fitness center, and a can’t-miss daily breakfast in a leafy garden, the Plaza Athenee doesn’t miss a beat. [The Telegraph]

 

{ 0 comments }

Beach_640_Email01

Who doesn’t love the beach? What about a little fame and glory? Well, we here at Oyster believe that the answer to both of these questions is a resounding “no one” — so we have officially combined the two with our introduction of #OysterPics. Yep, using this hashtag, we’re asking all our fans — who are also fans of the beach, and taking photos of it — to share their best beach shots with us. Simply submit your photo on Facebook or use the #OysterPics hashtag with your shot on Twitter or Instagram, and we may end up sharing your pic and featuring it on our blog! We’ll pick our favorites over the next few weeks, so get snapping!!

Share your #OysterPics here.

{ 0 comments }

This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

People have long questioned the whole “the bigger, the better” theory. Most have concluded that it really depends on the circumstances, and we’d have to concur. After all, in our area of expertise (hotels, of course), sometimes a megaresort — packed with activities, restaurants, and enough rooms to host hundreds of reunions at one time — is just what we’re looking for. Other times, we seek the privacy and tranquil vibe of a smaller hotel. And sometimes, we find that the most charming stays are those in absolutely itsy bitsy hotels — boutique properties tucked away in historic townhomes or on the top floors of unassuming edifices. So while even a hotel with nearly 100 rooms can be considered a boutique property, the tiny hotels that make this list all have just four rooms or fewer. Take a peek inside these intimate getaways to discover some truly unique stays.

Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam

Bed and Breakfast

Number of Rooms: Three

The picturesque, off-the-beaten-track Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam is charm itself, located on a leafy canal with picturesque views of traditional canal houses and bridges in a residential area away from throngs of tourists. Inside and out, the Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam is set apart by the owners’ attention to detail. The little added touches such as fresh flowers, free afternoon cakes, chocolates on the pillows, and a carafe of black currant gin in each guest’s room upon arrival help make this B&B an intimate, special spot.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

opening image

Okay, so one of the worst things ever is when you’re “enjoying” a spa treatment — but you’re not actually enjoying it because all you can think about is how much time it’s taking and how many things are piling up on your to-do list during your rubdown. Well, those behind the spas at JW Marriott, the Marriott’s top level of luxury hotels, have had the same experience, so they’ve dreamt up a whole new menu of mini spa treatments that last between 12 and 25 minutes. Of course, the new Spa by JW concept will also include traditional treatments, but those in a hurry — who still crave a little R&R — can indulge in brief treatments like the tense shoulders massage or the energy boost massage. And best of all, these treatments require no appointment and take place in express suites, fully-equipped with massage chairs, scent infusers, noise-canceling technology, and cell phone chargers. The first of these treatments will become available in September at the JW Marriott in Houston, and will soon roll out to all Spas by JW. [Hotel Chatter]

See more great pics of some of our favorite JW Marriott spas after the jump >>

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Summertime always gets us nostalgic, particularly when we think back to our busy days and peaceful nights spent at summer camp. Everything was just simpler then, right? Counselors chose the activities, the kitchen staff provided all the grub, and at night the soft sounds of nature — plus the fact that you were dead-tired from the day’s adventures — put you right to sleep. Well, you may be all grown up now, but you can still relive those days — and bonus: no need for matching uniforms. When summer was just beginning to hint its arrival, we told you about the best hotels stateside for pitching a tent (and we threw in a Botswana property just for good measure). So this time, we’re focusing solely on international destinations where you can experience a new kind of summer camp-like getaway that’s adults-friendly (and most are kid-friendly, too). Check out our top picks for outdoorsy, campy properties outside the U.S.

Camping Village Rochette, Tuscany

Camping Village Rochette

Billed as a high-end camping village, this property has some fun amenities — a striking pool, a Turkish bath, and tennis courts — with bungalows of various sizes spread out over a large wooded area about 500 meters from the beach. Some of the newer, larger bungalows are on the luxurious side; ones at lower price points are a little on the shabby end (although they may be more reminiscent of a summer camp stay than the others). The property offers numerous play areas for kids, as well as daytime and nighttime activities, and it has an on-site market so guests can make use of the in-room kitchens. The hotel also provides a shuttle to the nearby seaside town of Castiglione della Pescaia.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

opening image-001

Happy National Tequila Day!

That’s right. July 24th has officially been dedicated to the celebration of all things tequila, and while we may be a tad confused, we’re certainly not going to complain. This festive day might be a holiday exclusive to the U.S., but we’d prefer to celebrate in Mexico, where tequila is considered deserving of a holiday every single day of the year.

Check out our favorite tequila-loving Mexican resorts after the jump. Cheers!!!

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

We’re celebrating all kinds of culinary holidays at the Oyster offices this week, and of course we can’t turn down an excuse to chow down on a hot dog — loaded with the works, please.  So in honor of today being National Hot Dog Day, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite spots across the states to feast on this American staple. Sorry, baseball game not included.

The Varsity, Atlanta

atlanta the varsity

Established in 1928, The Varsity has since opened numerous outposts around Atlanta to accommodate the continuously growing demand for its delicious hot dogs. An array of condiments are available, but it seems the locals like to top their dogs with some cool coleslaw. The downtown location in particular is always lively, and the W Atlanta puts you within easy reach.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

There’s something undeniably sexy about the Mediterranean: The sea breezes, the storied history, the beautiful architecture, the friendly people, the delicious cuisine, and — without a doubt — the sweeping views, of both city and sea, certainly don’t hurt either. We’ve made our way along the winding coast, from Spain’s Costa del Sol to the Greek island of Mykonos, and have found that the Mediterranean can certainly set the scene for romance — as can many of its luxury hotels. Here are a dozen beautiful, romantic properties in the Mediterranean that are perfect for a sexy escape.

Myconian Ambassador Hotel & Thalasso Spa Center, Mykonos

Myconian Ambassador

Myconian Ambassador Hotel & Thalasso Spa Center is a luxury hotel (it’s part of the Relais & Chateaux chain) with 70 rooms overlooking Platis Gialos. Guests seem to love the hotel’s little extras, such as juice at check-in and ice pops by the pool. Guest rooms are chic, white, and airy, and offer ocean views. The hotel has an infinity-edge outdoor pool, and a restaurant serving Mediterranean, Greek, and Mykonos dishes. The indoor spa offers guests a free, daily thalassotherapy session, and the hotel has a fitness center with several weight and cardio machines. Free shuttle service to the airport is available. It’s a short walk to the beautiful Platis Gialos Beach, and Mykonos Town is a 12-minute drive from the hotel.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

Considering the climbing prices of airfare, travelers these days are all the more focused on finding inexpensive hotels when they plan their summer getaways. Often, this can mean staying in a desolate, removed location or – perhaps worse – along a congested, crowded highway. But we’ve been lucky enough to find some hidden gems among our budget stays that boast not only low rates, but also absolutely jaw-dropping views. Sure, the rooms may lack high-tech amenities or feature some dated decor, but these 12 budget hotels prove that the best hotel amenity can be just out your window.

Hotel Tagoo, Mykonos

 Hotel Tagoo

Run by a Canadian expat, the Hotel Tagoo is located within walking distance to the center of town, but far enough away to give guests spectacular views and a quiet atmosphere. It’s one of the older hotels in the area, and rooms are spacious and clean, but basic with minimal decor. Nonetheless, many feature balconies with sweeping vistas of the hilltops and sea.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }