Oyster Staff

Trust us, we here at Oyster get it more than most people — going on vacation is freakin’ awesome. Vacations are all about fun, relaxation, and the “what happens here, stays here” vibe, and when you’re on a vacay, it feels like nothing can get ya down. But some hotel websites go a little too far and market their properties by showing “guests” in absolutely euphoric (and unrealistic) states. To the point where we’re pretty sure that that kind of happy can only be reached if you’ve been dabbling in some recreational, er, “fun.” And depending on the destination, maybe you have been. But still, when we’re deciding where to stay for our winter getaway, we usually don’t base it on how happy the “guests” on the website seem to be. Nonetheless, those photos can be pretty entertaining. Last time, we rounded up a bunch of marketing photos where the guests just couldn’t seem happier. And this time, we’ve done the same thing — but focused on those hotel couples that just seem so in luuuurve. We’re sorry, but even if we were married to Ryan Gosling, we wouldn’t be smiling that big! Check out some of the most hilarious hotel couples we found!

1. Your room or mine?

“What about one final fling before you marry that old ball and chain?” (Mansion on Forsyth Park, Savannah)

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Las Vegas hotels are known for being over-the-top, and that includes everything from the casinos to the restaurants, from the pools to the ensuite bathrooms. Whether they’re larger than the average New York City apartment, or have gilded accents everywhere, Las Vegas bathrooms do not disappoint. Check out the most luxe bathrooms we’ve seen during our travels in Sin City.

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Legalization supporters in the U.S. have been abuzz (excuse the pun) in recent weeks, ever since Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. So it’s safe to say that heading west is a good call these days if you’re planning on toking up. But heading east to our friends in Europe isn’t such a bad idea, either. For example, despite the recent tourist drug ban in the Netherlands, tourists and locals alike can continue to openly smoke in Amsterdam’s cafes. And numerous neighboring countries where weed is decriminalized have loose policies when it comes to the drug’s recreational use. So we’ve come up with a list — here are some of the best spots to smoke weed in Europe.

 

View from The Dylan Amsterdam

 Amsterdam, Netherlands

Though recent steps within government policies have made it seem like the Netherlands will become less tolerant towards marijuana use, Amsterdam’s mayor has promised that the city’s over 200 coffee shops will continue to serve locals and tourists. After all, many of the city’s 1.5 million tourists visit Amsterdam solely because of its lenient policies. Marijuana use is officially decriminalized in the Netherlands, and laws banning its use are rarely enforced.

Where to Stay: The Dylan Amsterdam

The Dylan is a stylish, upscale boutique centrally located in the Canal Ring. The 41 rooms are split into six different styles, ranging from lofts with cathedral ceilings to all-white rooms to Asian-inspired spaces. All rooms have high-end amenities including Bose sound systems, stocked minibars, and Zenology toiletries. A cozy lounge, two bars, a brasserie, and a lovely courtyard with heat lamps are all draws, but the real highlight here is the Michelin-star Vinkeles restaurant, which serves contemporary French cuisine in an exclusive space with just a handful of tables. Talk about a swanky spot to cure the munchies!

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‘Tis the season for annual awards lists, but if you think you know what’s coming, guess again. Oyster’s awards aren’t like the other guys’ — we’re not like the other guys, so why should our awards be? You can find lists of the world’s best luxury hotels in a dozen other places, but only Oyster digs deep to learn every hotel’s secret quirks. Our hotel investigators trot the globe and visit every hotel in person so we can bring you the unvarnished truth, and this year, for the first-ever annual Oyster Hotel Awards, we’d like to show you the wackiest, coolest, weirdest, and most interesting things they came across in their travels. We are thrilled to present the 2012 selection of Oyster’s Most Interesting Hotels in the World. Are you ready for this?

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Trust us, we here at Oyster get it more than most people — going on vacation is freakin’ awesome. Vacations are all about fun, relaxation, and the “what happens here stays here” vibe, and when you’re on a vacay, it feels like nothing can get ya down. But some hotel websites go a little too far and market their properties by showing “guests” in absolutely euphoric (and unrealistic) states. To the point where we’re pretty sure that that kind of happy can only be reached if you’ve been dabbling in some recreational, er, “fun.” And depending on the destination, maybe you have been. But still, when we’re deciding where to stay for our winter getaway, we usually don’t base it on how happy the “guests” on the website seem to be. Nonetheless, those photos can be pretty entertaining so we rounded up some of our favorites — check ‘em out!

1. Happiest Feet on Earth

“We’re on vacation, it’s 6:30 A.M., and the kids are up and full of energy — fabulous! Sleep is overrated.” (Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta)

Photo from the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta website.

Photo from the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta website.

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What we would give to be snuggled up in one of those velvet chairs!

What we would give to be snuggled up in one of those velvet chairs!

Gone are the days of summer. And while we look back with nostalgia (it’s easy to forget how brutal the heat was once it’s gone, right?), we here at Oyster are already looking forward to fall: Pumpkin bread, hot apple cider, a good book…and the best way to round out this autumnal trifecta is with a crackling fire, of course. It’s time to get cozy: Warm up with a peak at our favorite hotel fireplaces across the country.

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Marijuana Legal or Illegal?

The times, oh they are a-changing. Credit: iStockPhoto

Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most celebrated cultural centers thanks to dozens of museums, picturesque canals, and an overall friendly atmosphere. But the city is also known for its Red Light district — filled with XXX-type entertainment — and its lax stance on marijuana. With more than 200 legal dispensaries, Amsterdam uses these laid-back laws as a means of subduing the black market drug trade and keeping crime rates low – keeping things soooo mellow, if you will. But this coming January, The Netherlands will vote on whether or not non-natives can buy pot at their infamous “brown cafes.” To locals, the initiative would mean residents would have to register as “users,” which would then be verified by a dispensary owner. But since we’re not Dutch, we figured we needed to pack our bags ASAP while we can still get legally stoned.  After scrounging the city, we found some of the best cafes — plus hotels where you can rest your head — in Europe’s Hemp Heaven.

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Oyster's new user interface

At Oyster, we’re constantly trying to innovate with our customers in mind. We want to make sure we’re always delivering the best experience and best product possible to you, because without you, there’d be no us. So we’re constantly examining how people are using our site and considering things we can do to make the experience that much better for you.

During the last 18 months we’ve noticed one very important trend: People’s monitors are getting bigger. Much bigger! So when we thought about what we could do to give you a better experience, one obvious thing popped into  our minds – give you even bigger photos!

We know that you love our photos. So what we do now is simple: We detect the resolution of your monitor, and then we deliver a photo that’s as big as possible. When looking at our maps, the same technology applies: The bigger your monitor, the more map you’ll see. Over the coming weeks and months we plan to extend this to other parts of the site as well.

The image above gives you some idea of the change, but just go ahead and trust us: It’s bigger, better, and badder (in a good way)!

Please send us feedback on what you think!

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‘Tis the season for lots of feastin’! With turkeys, sweets, fatty trimmings, and sugary cocktails in your face all winter long, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to bump fitness center offerings up closer to the top of your priority list when you’re searching for a place to stay. To offset your festive calorie bombs during your holiday travel, you best be hitting those hotel gyms — and here are our selections for the finest hotel fitness centers in Los Angeles.

Terranea Resort

Fitness Center, Terranea Resort

Fitness Center, Terranea Resort

With floor-to-ceiling windows and top-of-the-line equipment (as well as a separate exercise studio with spinner bikes), the Terranea’s large fitness center feels more like a full-service club than a typical hotel gym. On the less-rigorous side, the resort offers boccie ball and croquet terrain with free equipment rental, and three pools with great views of the ocean.

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Hotel’s Photo:

"Hyatt Regency Washington is steps away from the U.S. Capitol," they say.

"Hyatt Regency Washington is steps away from the U.S. Capitol," they say.

Oyster’s Photo:

Lots of steps, though.

Lots of steps, though.

Proximity to power is valuable currency in Washington, D.C. So it won’t surprise folks inside the Beltway that the city’s prominent players occasionally exaggerate their standing. But we’re from New York City, and we couldn’t help but notice that this photo, which appears on the website of the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, gives the false impression that the hotel practically stands in the shadows of the U.S. Capitol.

It doesn’t. Take a look at this photo that we snapped last week during a hotel-reviewing trip to the city and that, we think, more accurately reflects the distance from the hotel to the Capitol — which is, in fact, about a third of a mile. That’s close, just not reach-out-and-touch-it close.

True, as hotel-related D.C. scandals go, this one doesn’t exactly rank up there with Watergate. The hotel’s marketing photo is probably the well-intentioned work of a skillful photographer using a telephoto lens, not a more devious case of digital manipulation. Still, you don’t have to be too great a cynic to see this as evidence that, in Washington, things aren’t always what they seem.

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