Like the rest of the world, our office is abuzz with talk of Wes Anderson’s newest flick, The Grand Budapest Hotel. And sure, it may be mostly water cooler chatter, but we consider it research too — after all, it is about a grand hotel… one that may have seen some grander times. But even in its heyday, the Grand Budapest Hotel just can’t stack up to some of the gorgeous historic hotels that we’ve stayed in — from Irish castles to stately Southern mansions. Check out a dozen stunning stays that are far grander than the Grand Budapest Hotel (with the requisite storied history, to boot).
Originally built in the 15th century by the Morosini family, this beautiful palazzo — right on the Grand Canal — was purchased by the Sagredos (a family of noble blood) in the 1700s, which is how the hotel got its name. Besides luxurious rooms and a lovely terrace, the Ca’Sagredo Hotel features original frescoes and sculptures from the 17th and 18th centuries.
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We have seen some beautiful sites during our travels around the world. But don’t take our word for it (although you should; we are experts) — many of our favorite places are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means they are “places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.” And there you have it — spots that make this list are absolutely stunning. To date, there are 911 sites on the list and we have seen a ton of them. But to make things a tad more manageable, we’ve parred it down to 9 sites that you’ve just got to see. And if you can make it to all 911, then by all means go for it!
We’re starting local — for us, at least. A beacon of hope for travelers to New York City since it was dedicated in 1886, the Statue of the Liberty is one of the most-recognized and beloved National Monuments in the United States. Visitors can walk to the top for sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline from the statue’s crown, and many visit Ellis Island at the same time to round out their historical and cultural trip.
Where to Stay: The Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park
As expected of the luxury brand, this Ritz property boasts gorgeous rooms, top-notch service, and a long list of amenities. Some rooms feature views of the Statue of Liberty.
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Rain usually isn’t an element vacationers seek; in fact, it is often purposely avoided, whether that means picking a rain-free destination or visiting a spot during its dry season. Yet some of the rainiest destinations around the globe are also the most beautiful, and they are all the more enticing during their wet seasons when the crowds are few and the natural surroundings are lush. Here are eight spots where we’ve found the silver lining; these rainy destinations are gorgeous, and definitely deserve a visit this spring.
Costa Rica is one of the wettest destinations in Central America, but it’s thanks to the constant rain that it is also one of the most beautiful. The country is home to lush rainforests, dozens of national parks with a rich diversity of flora and fauna, and long white-sand beaches. If you visit towards the end of the spring, you’ll be traveling during Costa Rica’s rainiest season which means crowds are fewer (in fact, Costa Rica is still relatively undeveloped and uncrowded year-round compared to its Caribbean counterparts), the surroundings are uber-lush, and, also like spots in the Caribbean, rain often lets up for sunny mornings.
Where to Stay: Lapa Rios Ecolodge & Wildlife Reserve
Lapa Rios, located in the remote coastal rainforests of the Osa Peninsula, is Costa Rica’s original luxury eco lodge. This is the opposite of a Cancun-style beach resort — guests come to the upscale Lapa Rios to enjoy the spectacular surroundings, learn about sustainable tourism, and re-connect with nature.
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Once we got that hint of sunny weather earlier this week, it became official: we’ve got the beach bug. Nothing ushers in warmer temperatures (at least in our minds) like frolicking in the sand, and a trip to the shore can be the perfect way to get the family together. We’ve told you about the best beaches for diving, surfing, and even going topless, so this time around we’re giving you the low-down on the best beaches for families; if you have babies in tow or water-winged toddlers, these seven U.S. beaches are our top picks for a family-friendly visit.
La Jolla Cove, San Diego
An upscale seaside sanctuary, La Jolla attracts families with its pristine downtown area, quiet neighborhoods, and stunning natural surroundings. While the town boasts plenty of surfer-friendly beaches, La Jolla Cove is ideal for tourists traveling with little ones; this small cove of clear water is part of the La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, and swimmers and divers have free range (surfing is not allowed). Lifeguards patrol the calm surf year-round, and the beach boasts clean public restrooms and showers, as well as designated picnic spots.
Where to Stay: Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
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March is the unofficial month of spring break, which — at least to hundreds of thousands of college students across the nation — means it’s a 30-day stretch of time dedicated to partying, preferably in exotic locales around the world. We’ve already given you the inside scoop on where to spend an awesome alternative spring break, but if you’re looking to get the classic (read: raucous) spring break fix, here are the top ten spring break destinations for partying.
Where to go: Cancun
Cancun — with its beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise waters – is one of the world’s top beach destinations, and it also one of the most-visited spring break destinations on the planet. The Hotel Zone is where to go if you’re looking for all the college spring break staples; dozens of megaresorts line miles and miles of postcard-perfect beaches where guests lounge in the sun margarita in hand. Hotels here cater to spring breakers, hard partiers, young couples and rowdy groups with night-long parties, loud entertainment, cheap booze and all-inclusive plans.
Where to stay: Hotel Riu Cancun
In the heart of the Hotel Zone, Hotel Riu Cancun sits on a sprawling piece of beachfront that’s close to bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and shops. The all-inclusive 569-room resort offers three swimming pools, a buffet-style restaurant, as well as three themed restaurants, and a range of on-site activities that includes nightly live shows, tennis, windsurfing, and a nightclub. Rooms are a bit outdated, but most consider it a small tradeoff for the affordable prices.
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Hawaii attracts about seven million visitors annually and it’s no wonder; with a beautiful natural landscape, rich culture, and vast range of activities, it is one of the most diverse destinations in the U.S. No two islands of the six-island chain are the same, and even different areas and coasts of a single island can vary drastically. This can make it difficult to choose an island for your vacation, but it also means that all kinds of travelers can find what they’re looking for — and fortunately, travel among the islands is relatively easy and stress-free. So whether you plan on island-hopping throughout your trip, or prefer to pick one island that’s best suited to your needs, our handy island guide will make planning your Hawaiian getaway a breeze.
If you want…
A little bit of everything: The Big Island
It makes sense that the largest island (larger, in fact, than all the other islands combined) would be the most diverse, and those who seek a well-rounded experience will love the Big Island. Between fiery volcanoes, cascading waterfalls, white-sand, black-sand, and even green-sand beaches, blossoming meadows and snow-capped mountains, the options are seemingly endless. Visitors can sunbathe and snorkel by day and stargaze from frigid mountaintops by night.
This clean, affordable condo property in Waikoloa Village on the Kohala Coast offers an uncommon level of privacy: It’s located inside a gated community and surrounded by a golf course. Ranch-inspired buildings house multi-room units, complete with full kitchens and washer/dryers, and property features include an attractive (if small) infinity pool and an open-air fitness room.
If you’re like us, you’re ready for this freezing weather — courtesy of the polar vortex — to be over. In fact, you’ve been ready for weeks now. And though the groundhog may not have predicted a quick return to warm weather, that hasn’t stopped cities across the U.S. from making plans to usher in the spring, which makes its official entrance March 20. From Atlanta to Los Angeles, from Vermont to Savannah, popular vacation destinations are already prepping for the season’s welcome with spring-themed festivals, parades, and parties. Here are seven destinations where you can celebrate spring.
Los Angeles, CA: Holi Festival of Colors, March 8
Traditionally a religious Hindu festival marking the beginning of spring, Holi has become a holiday celebrated around the globe by Hindu followers and non-followers alike, and few places stateside do the day justice like Los Angeles. This year, the festival takes place in L.A. on March 8 and includes group yoga sessions, musical performances, food vendors, and even “color throwings” ever hour. Dubbed by many as “the world’s happiest event,” Holi is all about reveling in the vibrant colors of spring.
Where to Stay: The Georgian Hotel
A picturesque Art Deco boutique hotel with a commanding view of the sea (from the sunny front porch, but not all rooms), the Georgian is a classy retreat with lovely rooms and a prime location on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. On-site amenities, however, are few. You’ll have to drive to the festival, but when the festival is over, we recommend staying near the beach in Santa Monica to catch some rays.
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Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your loved one, but that can be hard to do in a crowded resort where dozens of other couples are trying to do the same thing. If you’re planning a special getaway for the holiday, however, there are still plenty of spots where you won’t need to worry about a lack of privacy. We’ve found nine romantic hotels that are not only super sexy but uber secluded, making it easy for quiet one-on-one time with your significant other.
Couples will realize just how wonderfully secluded this 96-suite getaway really is during the hour drive from the airport down a bumpy road. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by giant rooms with gorgeous terraces, a top-notch spa, and four high-quality restaurants, all of which are never packed with diners like those at some of the D.R.’s megaresorts. The on-site beach is private which helps to keep it quiet and calm, and couples can indulge in a vast variety of free activities such as yoga and snorkeling.
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Europe is a popular destination year-round, and it becomes all the more popular as the temperatures rise and students and families opt to travel abroad during their spring and summer vacations. Those who have an extended amount of time off (and, of course, the cash to afford it) can visit numerous cities during one trip, but others with limited time and funds must decide upon one location — which can be a tricky feat. So we’ve come up with an expert guide for how to spend six months in Europe; whether you can take half a year and explore a handful of cities, or you have just a weekend in which to get away, we’ll tell you the best European destination for each month — starting right now with February!
February in Venice
Venice’s Carnival is one of the most famous festivals in the world, and every February locals and tourists crowd the streets of the city to let loose before Lent begins. This year the celebration kicks off on February 15th and runs for two and a half weeks; parades, contests, special exhibits, and ceremonies take place along the Grand Canal.
Where to Stay: Hotel Al Sole
This boutique hotel may have simple — verging on bland — rooms, but canal views, a charming courtyard, and a great location — the hotel is housed in a 15th-century mansion within walking distance of numerous sights — make Hotel Al Sole a solid pick.
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It’s a tradition to wine and dine your significant other on Valentine’s Day for a reason; after all, the way to a man’s heart (and many women’s as well) is through his stomach, and a candlelit meal with plenty of tasty treats and booze can be just the thing to kick off a romantic evening. With the amorous holiday falling on a Friday this year, there’s even more reason to celebrate in style, as plenty of delicious hotel restaurants are featuring special menus for the occasion. Here are the seven most romantic hotel restaurants across the U.S. for this Valentine’s Day.
Aptly located at Hollywood and Vine, the Redbury is an eclectic boutique hotel that attracts a young, and sometimes famous, clientele. Along with the spacious, apartment-style rooms, the on-site Mediterranean restaurant, Cleo, is a major draw; the warm, cozy space serves tasty small plates and signature cocktails. For Valentine’s Day the restaurant is offering a prix fixe menu at $65 per person which includes mezze for the table followed by a choice of second course and entree. Dessert is a sexy flourless chocolate cake with roasted banana, chocolate parfait, and chili doughnuts.
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