Kelsey Blodget

Worried about a Game of Thrones style invasion on your next trip? Roving hordes? Zombie armies? We totally feel you. Travel can be a bit scary, and if you’re the type that likes to feel extra secure when you get away, you might appreciate the idea of staying in a hotel that’s, well, fortified. These five hotels are actually in ancient fortresses, so if you find yourself needing to fend off rebel invaders on your next romantic retreat, you’ll at least have all the battlements, arrowslits, and watch towers your heart could desire right at hand. Hey, you never know…

Castello di Petroia, Umbria, Italy

Castello di PetroiaThe gorgeous Castello di Petroia dates all the way back to the 11th century; with a picturesque setting in the Umbrian countryside, it was at one time a medieval fortress. Back then this region consisted of vying independent city-states, and the fortress was the birthplace of the Duke of Urbino. Today, this 800-acre wooded estate is a charming and undeniably romantic retreat, with a seasonal pool and candlelit gourmet restaurant. The castle is comprised of three buildings: the Major Castellare, the main building with medieval halls and a library; the smaller Minor Castellare, where the castle’s guardian’s once lived; and the 66-foot Tower, which has a three-tiered guest room. The 13 individually-decorated rooms have historic flourishes such as stone arches, wood beams, and frescoed ceilings. Read More »

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pool--v2178798-1024Do you like Italy? Do you like castles? If you answered yes to either of those questions (and if you didn’t — seriously?), you’ll probably be into the gorgeous Castello di Monterone in the rolling hills of Umbria. This 13th-century castle has an impressive degree of preserved medieval character, and offers a romantic setting for a true getaway. One of our Italian investigators only just visited this stunning property, and we spent quite a while ogling it in the office. You can expect gorgeous stonework, breathtaking views,  battlements, and even a suit of armor (of course — this is a castle, in case we didn’t make that crystal clear). It’s almost hard to believe that these insanely beautiful photos are not remotely Photoshopped (if you’re new here, that’s kind of Oyster’s whole thing). Just be careful not to drool on your keyboard. Pinners, get ready.  Read More »

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Miami BeachYes, you read that right — Miami Beach is getting (another!) hip boutique hotel. Thompson Hotels — who we already know and love from the Smyth Hotel, Gild Hall, and Thompson Toronto, among others — will be opening the Thompson Miami Beach in late 2014 on Collins Avenue, just south of the Fontainebleau. The hotel was a whopping $200 million investment for Commune Hotels & Resorts (the hotel management company for not only Thompson Hotels, but another lovely boutique chain we love, Joie de Vivre) and the property will reportedly have preserved Art Deco features blended with contemporary glamour and bohemian flair. Sounds about right for what we’ve come to expect from the area’s trendiest boutiques.

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So Spain’s Costa del Sol is pretty renowned (and justly so), but it doesn’t get quite as much international love as the French Riviera or Amalfi Coast. We’re not quite sure why, because it’s pretty friggin’ gorgeous, and hotels here are a fraction of the price of those in more famous Mediterranean beach destinations. If whitewashed buildings in charming Andalusian seaside towns sounds like your kind of thing, you’ll probably dig these seven hotels. It doesn’t hurt that the views are postcard-perfect….

Hotel Balcon de Europa

Hotel Balcon de EuropaThe Hotel Balcon de Europa is one of many four-pearl luxury hotel choices on the Málaga coast, but what sets this 108-room property apart is its prime location on the beach in the center of tourist-friendly Nerja. There’s definitely an adult vibe here thanks to the rooftop swimming pool, spa facilities, and a romantic restaurant with views of the beach through floor-to-ceiling windows. Read More »

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thailand photo The Thai military announced on Thursday that it has taken over the government in a coup — but those with travel plans to Thailand don’t necessarily have to scuttle them. The military chief said it should be business as usual for the public , and the military promised to provide security for foreign vacationers, CNN reports. So if you sunk thousands of dollars into plane tickets and hotel rooms, don’t panic just yet. Past protests and conflict have primarily taken place in Bangkok, so those heading to the beaches may be able to steer clear of problems — though partiers may not appreciate the 10 p.m. curfew the military has imposed.  We’re sure there will be more news about this in the days to come, and those planning to visit the country this year should keep an eye on travel alerts from the U.S. state department.

Photo credit: Darren Johnson/Flickr

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So we’ve seen a lot of things on our travels, but this Barbie-themed suite at The Palms Casino Resort is definitely among the weirdest. Or pinkest? Creepiest? Most hilarious? Take your pick. We’re still not quite sure how we feel about it, to be honest. All we know for certain is that you absolutely have to see it for yourself. From the giant glass display case of barbies to the giant rendering of Barbie facing the toilet (hopefully you’re comfortable with that), this room is hands-down one of the most over-the-top themed suites anywhere. Makes sense we found it in Las Vegas.

barbie-suite--v1975233-61-1024 Read More »

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Beverly Hills Hotel-001The Beverly Hills Hotel — L.A.’s famed “pink palace” — has long been a celebrity hot spot, but those days are a changin.’ Celebrities such as Ellen Degeneres are boycotting the once beloved property, owned by the Sultan of Brunei, thanks to the severe sharia laws Brunei introduced last week which call for death by stoning for gay sex and adultery. Now Fox News reports that the Beverly Hills City Council is getting in on the action by pressuring Brunei to sever financial ties. Ultimately, though, neither the government nor L.A.’s movie stars can force the multibillionaire sultan to cooperate. We’ll be keeping an eye on how this progresses — looks like it’s already spelling very bad news for business at this 12-acre luxury property. [FoxNews.com]

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Mountain Lodge at Telluride, Colorado
Mountain Lodge at Telluride, ColoradoLocated in Mountain Village, Mountain Lodge at Telluride is a classic Colorado mountain getaway. This log-cabin style lodge offers spacious condo and cabin rentals for groups from two to 14 people. Most rooms have kitchens, gas fireplaces, and private balconies in addition to small touches like humidifiers to battle the dry Colorado air. One highlight of this hotel is the year-round outdoor pool and hot tub with sweeping mountain views. A cozy restaurant, called the View, has a huge fireplace and plenty of space to lounge over a local beer. Read More »

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The opening ceremony for Winter Olympic Games in Sochi will be broadcast on Friday, February 7th, which means that Olympics fever is nearly here. Those of us who love the Winter Olympics may be looking for a taste of our own Olympics glory – without going to Russia. Luckily, many hotels are allowing guests the chance to partake in the Olympics fun through Olympics-inspired packages. Whether you want to relive Winter Olympics past or simply show off your own winter sports prowess at some of the world’s top winter destinations, these hotels have got you covered.

Resort at Squaw Creek, Lake Tahoe

Resort at Squaw Creek, Lake TahoeThe Resort at Squaw Creek is one of the largest hotels in Squaw Valley, where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held. It’s making the most of its Olympics past with the 1960 Winter Games Penthouse Package, which includes penthouse accommodations for two nights as well as two lift tickets and two adult ski rentals per day, among other offerings. The hotel has a ski-in, ski-out location with lift to Squaw Valley, making it easy for guests to ski the same slopes of long-ago Olympic greats. Read More »

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When going to a new destination, many of us stick to the beaten path; we’ll go where the other tourists are going for the first time around. But once you’ve been to Cancun, or Montego Bay, or any other well-touristed beach spot, you may be more interested in heading somewhere a tad more under-the-radar on your next visit to the area. Or perhaps you’re the type who opts to skip the crowds the first time around. Either way, we love these seven underrated beach destinations; they’re rarely a traveler’s first choice, but perhaps they should be.

Instead of Cancun, head to Riviera Nayarit

SayulitaWith over 190 miles of beautiful sandy beaches, wonderful resorts, and world-class golf, it’s surprising that Riviera Nayarit is so much less known than Mexican resort destinations such as Puerto Vallarta (its neighbor to the south) and Cancun. Punta Mita and Nuevo Vallarta are the most popular towns here, but there are also a number of charming little beach towns such as Sayulita and San Pancho that offer visitors a more authentic Mexican experience. Read More »

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