We’re super excited about next Tuesday’s boozy, beaded party known as Mardi Gras. Multiple parades make their way through the Central Business District and up until the French Quarter, with hundreds of revelers lining the streets to peek at the eye-catching costumes, floats, and borderline insanity. But before you can let your hair down — or lift your shirt up — you’ll need to find some primo digs to stay and play at. Just remember that the parades don’t go on Bourbon Street, even if the majority of the partying does. Check out our fave Fat Tuesday hotels — we promise that at least a few of them will let you catch some shut-eye.
The entrance to Hotel Monteleone; New Orleans, LA
The Draw: A true Southern Gem, the Monteleone is a block from Bourbon Street and has a rich in New Orleans history — with all the Creole stylings to prove it. Most notable is its Carousel Bar, which is a veritable, well, carousel, that features kitchsy decor and a chill vibe that’s all its own. Hop on one of the rotating chairs and order up a Ramos Gin Fizz, a drink that actually originated in the city itself.
Best Feature: Aside from the obviously posh accommodations, its location on Royal Street is ideal for watching the parade and reveling with the Bourbon Street partiers.
Find out more about our fave Fat Tuesday hotels after the jump!
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San Francisco's Chinatown stands ready to celebrate the Spring Festival.
In just a week, Chinese New Year kicks off! And we want to give you plenty of notice so you can start planning how — and where — you’ll celebrate. Also known as the Spring Festival, this holiday consists of two weeks of feasting, lion dances, lantern lighting, and much more. After all, it is the most important holiday in the Chinese lunar calendar, so festivities necessitate indulgence. Millions of people around the world will celebrate with gorgeous decorations, rich foods, and stunning firework displays — and we here at Oyster can’t wait to get in on the action at some of our favorite Chinatowns around the globe. We’ve got you covered on where to ring in the Year of the Snake, but no matter where you choose to kick things off, Oyster wishes you a prosperous new year or, as they say in Mandarin, Gong Xi Fa Cai! Read More »
Legend has it that when Dom Perignon first discovered champagne, he called out, “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” It’s hard to disagree with the Frenchman — a cool glass of bubbly can make even the most stoic person let loose a giggle or a smirk. And this is doubly true on New Year’s Eve. Tonight, 2013 will be rung in with champagne toasts around the world, and the best place to do just that? In a swanky champagne bar right in the comfort of your very own hotel, of course! On-site champagne lounges provide uniquely festive ambiances and make stumbling home post-festivities all the easier. Some of our favorite luxury hotels feature these sophisticated spots, so sit back, pop open a bottle of bubbly, and start spying for someone to kiss at midnight. It’s almost 2013 — Happy New Year!
The PJ Lounge at the Dukes is a classy spot to ring in the New Year.
While Dukes may be famous for its martinis — James Bond-creator Ian Flemming originated the famous “Shaken, not stirred” line here — its newest addition to the fold is serving up the finest champagne and champagne cocktails. The Perrier-Jouet Champagne Lounge (or, more simply, the PJ Lounge) is a stylish space, outfitted in rich greens, with bright pops of pinks and whites, to sip some bubbly. The bar is classic and playful all at once, just as any New Years Eve affair should be. Read More »
Christmas tree at the New York Palace
Merry Christmas from all of us at Oyster.com! Check out some of our favorite holiday content to keep you in the Christmas spirit all day long:
Some of the best holiday hotels across the U.S. »
How Christmas is celebrated around the world »
Iconic Christmas decorations in NYC »
The best holiday markets around the globe »
Are you on Santa’s Naughty or Nice list this year? We’ve seen a lot of good and bad behaviors during our travels over the last year — and maybe dabbled in both as well! So we know every dirty little secret, or shiny gold star, that you’ve been part-and-parcel to on vacation. But if you’re not sure where you stand in Santa’s twinkling eyes, we’re here to help. You can find out whether your favorite hotel amenities will get your stockings stuffed full of goodies or weighed down by coal this holiday season with our quiz. So check out which list you’re on!
The Naughty List:
1. Have you stripped down?
Clothing optional resorts like the Desire Riviera Maya can see some X-rated action.
For some travelers, itsy bitsy bikinis or revealing Speedos just don’t cut it — a vacation isn’t a vacation without a little nudity. Luckily for them, some hotels are redefining casual dress with policies that let guests bare it all (or almost all), like the couples-only, clothing-optional Desire Resort & Spa Riviera Maya. A little voyeurism never hurt anyone — but don’t be surprised if your nude antics land you on the naughty list this winter.
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Tons of visitors descend upon New York City during the holidays, and for good reason. After all, few places boast such a cheery holiday spirit with beautiful window displays, Christmas lights galore, and holiday pop-up shops on every corner — and this all in a place where “get out of my way” is usually considered a friendly “hello!” So if you’re heading to the Big Apple soon — or are here now — take a look at our list of the best holiday activities that will be sure to spread plenty of cheer. And we’ve included the best places to stay as well, of course!
Holiday Activity: Ice-Skate in Central Park
It may be unseasonably warm, but that makes it the perfect weather for outdoor ice-skating at Wollman Rink.
Open for more than 25 weeks during the cooler months, Wollman Rink (officially “Trump Rink” these days) has been a New York City staple since 1949. Locals and tourists, amateurs and professionals all meet on the rink during public session hours, which are extended on holidays such as Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.
Where to Stay: JW Marriott Essex New York
This large, luxurious Art Deco icon, located on the southern edge of Central Park (some rooms overlook the rink), evokes the opulence of bygone times. A 2007 re-design put modern technological amenities in the rooms, and the Essex is moving comfortably into the future.
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If you’re one of the many shoppers out there struggling with gift buying this holiday season, don’t fret. Whether you’re a road warrior with no time to shop or just looking for a ‘lil inspiration, we’ve found a surprising source for great gift ideas: hotels. From gourmet goodies to decadent bath products to home decor, hotels have plenty of items that can make the perfect present — so swipe something on your next hotel stay (and pay up, of course!) or simply swipe the suggestion!
Gift Idea: Signature Pantry Goodies
Guests can buy signature pantry items from The Merrion kitchen, such as red onion marmalade.
Little-known fact about hotels: Some of the really, really nice ones have their own signature gourmet goodies. At The Merrion, for example, the hotel chef sells kitchen creations such as red onion marmalade (4 euros, or about $5) and hotel-brand chocolate bars crafted under the guidance of chocolatiers in France, both for sale in the in-room minibars. In addition, entire holiday hampers of treats can be purchased. One of our favorites? The Merrion Hamper, with items such as cranberry sauce, brandy butter, mulled wine and grape chutney, macaroons, mince pies, chocolate truffles, Christmas pudding, and lemon oil, all for 55 euro (about $72). At The Shelbourne Dublin, more tasty seasonal signature treats are for sale, such as various relishes (4.95 euros, about $6.50), preserves (4.95 euros, about $6.50), and even Christmas pudding (10 euros, about $13).
Oyster’s Picks for Where to Swipe ‘Em: The Merrion Hotel in Dublin, The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel
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This year, the Festival of Lights takes place from this Saturday (December 8th) through the 16th. Celebrations vary from the traditional — lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, and giving gelt — to the more unique gatherings (skiing with the “Adventure Rabbi”, anyone?), but all are heartfelt, fun affairs that involve the whole family. Jews around the globe will be coming together over the next eight nights, and there are plenty of events for them to explore the world over. We’ve collected some of our favorites here, but no matter where you end up, here’s wishing you and yours a very Happy Hanukkah!
This holiday season, The Plaza is playing host to the world's largest menorah, in addition to other celebrated guests.
Visit the World’s Largest Menorah in New York City
Standing 32 feet tall and weighing two tons, New York City‘s menorah is the largest in the world. It stands on a piece of prime real estate, right in front of the iconic Plaza hotel on 5th Avenue, across the street from Central Park. Admission is free, and guests can stay to enjoy sufganiyot — holiday jelly donuts — and folk dancing after the lighting, which starts at 5:30 nightly (excluding the Sabbath). On December 8th, there will also be live music, singing, and dancing to kick off the holiday, as well as Hanukkah gelt for the children and hot latkes for everyone to enjoy.
Where to Stay: The Plaza
As NYC’s menorah is so conveniently located in front of The Plaza, why not stay at the iconic New York hotel? The century-old landmark has huge rooms, gold-plated bathroom fixtures, an exceptional spa, and 24-hour butler service. It’s definitely worth the splurge this holiday season.
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The most wonderful time of the year is upon us (if you can’t tell by all the Target ads), and we’re taking a trip around the world to see how they celebrate in some of our favorite locales. Christmas is a special time all around the globe, whether it’s celebrated with bonfires, dead wrens (yes, you read that right), or just good ole family-style feasts, and we’ve found the best celebrations and places to stay this season. But wherever you go to celebrate the holidays, just remember to say “Merry Christmas,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Joyeux Noel,” or “Froehliche Weihnachten!”
Christmas in the United States
You can't go wrong with Christmas in New York, especially at the Plaza.
For some of the best displays of Christmas spirit, the Big Apple is a premium choice as the host of some of the most celebrated seasonal events in the world. During the one time of year New Yorkers actually don on smile, there is plenty to celebrate — from ice skating at Rockefeller Center to catching the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. For cozy accommodations, The Plaza has some of the most iconic decorations in the city, along with a prime Central Park location near the FAO Schwartz toy store and famed Fifth Avenue shopping. Even Kevin McCallister spent Christmas at the Plaza! Read More »
In the summertime, Venice belongs to tourists — 18 million tourists to be exact. Crowds clog the (barely) three square miles of this wondrous city, vastly outnumbering the roughly 270,000 Italians that call La Serenissima home. Literally meaning “the most serene,” this nickname is often replaced by another, less attractive moniker: Italian Disneyland. Though summer in Venice can certainly be nice, long lines and screaming children do not a happy vacationer — nor a happy Venetian — make.
But with winter’s arrival, the city appears to reclaim itself. In those short weeks between the holidays and Carnevale, Venetians indulge in life the way it is meant to be. Whether they’re tossing back un’ombra (more on this in a bit) or sloshing their way through l’acqua alta (and this, too), Venetians revel in their alone time — and who wouldn’t want to join them? Traveling to Venice in the winter allows visitors to experience the city at a slower, more peaceful pace, sans crowds and itineraries. To help you choose where to begin your journey to reclaim La Serenissima, here are some Venetian traditions you shouldn’t miss:
1. Gondola through the fog.
The gondolas at S. Giorgio Maggiore stand ready to show you their city in a whole new light.
Venice’s unique landscape is always enrapturing, but in winter the lightly grayed, slanted light of this canal city becomes hauntingly beautiful. Fog lingers through the canals, creating a mysterious and eerie atmosphere (that incidentally looks lovely in photographs). And if a bit of snow catches you by surprise, well, that’s even better — Venice is never more romantic than at times like this. As a bonus, with few tourists in town, there is no jostling for position on the waterways, allowing visitors a solitary ride back in time.
Where to Stay: The Hotel Palazzo Stern has its own vaporetto stop on the Grand Canal — and we’re sure Venice’s gondoliers will also be happy to drop you off at this historic boutique.
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