Want to live like a Rockefeller on your next vacation? Or want a voyeuristic peek into the world of the rich and powerful? These iconic resorts across the country — from a Gilded Age Palm Beach estate to a Newport mansion to a Long Island Gold Coast castle — will make you feel like your blood runs blue.
The Breakers Palm Beach
There’s a reason The Breakers’ reputation precedes it. This 140-acre resort, first built in 1896 (and reconstructed in 1926), resembles a Renaissance palace, and it’s seen more than its fair share of American royalty over the years; Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, William Randolph Hearst, and various Astors, Rockefellers, and Vanderbilts have all walked the halls at this posh spot. No other hotel in Palm Beach can come close to matching the luxury found at this iconic property.
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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 »
In honor of President Obama’s inauguration on Monday, we’re taking a look back at his travels over his last four years in office — and on the campaign trail. The Commander-In-Chief has laid his head in some of our favorite hotels around the globe and, thanks to his refined taste and seriously swanky style (although we’d argue we really have Michelle to thank for that), we’re always eager to see where he’ll travel to next (and, more importantly, where he’ll stay!). Congratulations, Mr. President! May the next four years be full of prosperous times — and plenty of unique hotel stays!
This decadent junior suite at The Hay-Adams offers White House views.
Four years ago, President Obama moved his family into the Presidential Suite at this historic hotel with White House views after former President George W. Bush rejected his request to stay in Blair House, the White House’s guest residence. President Obama wanted to move to Washington three weeks before his inauguration so that his daughters could start at Sidwell Friends School without missing the beginning of the term, but he was informed that Blair House was already booked (for former prime minister of Australia John Howard and several receptions, as it later turned out). Lucky for him, The Hay-Adams is one of DC’s most luxurious stays. Read More »
Choosing between artsy Melbourne, seen here, and beach-y Sydney isn't easy.
Australia is a big country. With an extremely diverse landscape and culture, the “Down Under” offers something for every kind of traveler. But deciding where to vacation when visiting for a limited amount of time can be difficult. Even the country’s two largest cities — Sydney and Melbourne– are two very different sides of the same coin. Both offer gorgeous architecture and a boat load of culture, but where one gets top marks for an eco-friendly attitude and a hipster vibe, the other is renowned for its beaches and bold attitude.
The rivalry between the cities is legendary, dating back as far as their foundings. While Sydney was originally built with very little urban planning as a massive jail for English convicts, Melbourne was a settler’s destination, constructed as a European metropolis with a grid of streets (one point for Melbourne!). Both bustling, rough-and-tumble Sydney and up-and-coming Melbourne experienced population booms in the late 1800s, establishing themselves as the largest cities — and most bitter rivals — early on. But which is superior? The decision isn’t an easy one: Canberra was even made the country’s capital back in the day just so as not to fuel the fires between the two cities. Today, visitors have to make that choice for themselves — but with a little help from Oyster, of course. Get the lowdown on our favorite aspects of these Aussie cities and then make your decision!
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The beach is peaceful and has tons of on-site watersports.
The 21-room GoldenEye is hands down Jamaica’s hippest and most luxurious resort. It’s also one of the island’s most historic, as the former home of Ian Fleming, and the hideaway at which the author scribed all 14 of his James Bond novels. Today, the property, which reopened in 2010 after an extensive $50 million renovation, includes stunning cottages and villas overlooking a private beach and lagoon, as well as two happening restaurants, two pools, a tree house spa, and an extensive roster of on-site activities. The rates might cause some to flinch, but those who can afford it will find little cause for complaint. See more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now »
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Unique amenities and personalized services are becoming increasingly in-demand at luxury hotels. Some might label these services over-the-top — and some of them are — but many of the butlers, sommeliers, and experts of the hotel world are performing real and important services for guests. And we here at Oyster want to hear their stories — especially if they include exciting and heartwarming tales from Ireland’s rich past! Descendants of the Emerald Isle are scattered far and wide around the globe, yet many often find themselves returning home to discover their roots. And giving them a helping hand is Helen Kelly, the Genealogy Butler at The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel. A professional genealogist, Kelly has been aiding the Irish in their quest for their ancestral history since the 1980s, and has worked with The Shelbourne since 1995 as, quite literally, the only Genealogy Butler in the world.
The Shelbourne's Genealogy Butler, Helen Kelly, "empowers" guests to track down their ancestors.*
The Shelbourne Dublin itself is a historic icon located on St. Stephen’s Green. Built in 1824, the property has witnessed major historical events firsthand (the Irish Constitution was signed here in 1922) and has hosted plenty of famous guests (including Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Princess Grace Kelly, Bill Clinton, and Bono).
Hotel guests, who perhaps get inspired by their storied surroundings, can make an appointment with Kelly to review whatever information they have on their ancestors. She will then be able to offer guidance on how to best track down more information in a city where the mass of historical documents and institutions is daunting. Over a one-hour consultation — which costs 100 Euro — guests will receive a full assessment from Kelly on their ancestral history, as well as an overview of the history, culture, and landscape of Ireland.
To read more about Kelly’s work as Genealogy Butler, check out our interview after the jump.
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Skyfall comes out this Friday and to celebrate we’ve taken a walk down double-oh seven lane (which involved watching all 22 films, of course). And we’ve discovered that — just like us — Bond has a thing for traveling, and particularly, staying at ultra-luxe hotels. Whether it’s where the character was born or where the infamous “shaken, not stirred” line originated, the debonair crime fighter has left his mark on some of our favorite spots around the globe.
Today, the massive Fleming Villa remains intact, featuring its own private pool and even the writer’s original desk over which he slaved year after year.
Why 007 loves it: The GoldenEye Hotel is where it all started. Reopened in 2010 after a $50 million renovation, this Jamaican hotspot is the former residence of Ian Fleming, who came up with his famous character on the property’s lush grounds. Every year, the scribe spent several months in his ocean-side villa, writing all 14 of his famous tales of the sleek and sophisticated spy. When Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Chris Blackwell bought the property in the 1980s, he realized the appeal of the historic estate as well as its untouched surroundings and converted it into a resort.
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It’s time to get your spook on. Halloween is just two short weeks away, and for many that means shaking out the costumes, buying some candy and cueing the Monster Mash marathon. But for the brave of heart, Oyster’s here to help you choose your spooky itinerary for Fright Night. No matter where you are across the globe, hauntings and mysteries abound that are sure to scare your socks off. From ghost towns to witches’ hideaways, we’ve found some of the best places to spook and be spooked — and where to rest your head (if you can) at the end of the day. But we’d suggest sleeping with one eye open…
Visit a Ghost Town
The American West is rife with these abandoned metropolises that once served as centers for mining and railroad operations. Walking among the now-desolate edifices that line the streets of these ghost towns is like taking a spooky step back in time, and as the nation’s largest unreconstructed ghost town, Bodie, California is the perfect spot to get your frightening fix. Founded in 1859 on the heels of the gold rush, the town’s 200 original structures once housed thousands of residents – families, robbers, miners, gunslingers, prostitutes – but now they stand eerily empty. Visitors come seeking ghostly encounters — or even just great photos, as the abandoned buildings look hauntingly beautiful at night.
The Hotel: Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite
When the sun goes down, the monsters come out to play at Yosemite's Evergreen Lodge.
Located east of Yosemite National Park, Bodie is a fun and spooky visit for campers looking to combine history with mystery this Halloween. And the Evergreen Lodge, a 22-acre cabin resort nestled into the Stanislaus National Forest, is a great spot to call home at the end of the day (if you’re not camping on-site).
Other Haunts: Other ghost towns of the American West worth checking out include Jerome, Arizona (which is well-known for its spectral lore — watch out for the beautiful Sammie Dean!) and South Pass City, Wyoming.
From the cryptic mythology throughout the Mississippi Delta, to the spirits of wartime past down the Atlantic coast, the South has no shortage of spooky adventures. Whether you’re looking for a friendly encounter from the other side, or trying to find a true adrenaline rush by meeting with a tortured (undead) soul, these Southern haunts have plenty of history and unexplained mysteries for thrill-seeking travelers.
Be on the look-out for any "half-headed" cadets at this Charleston hotel
The ghostlore: Charleston prides itself on its chilling past, and it’s no wonder that the town where the Civil War started has its share of lingering souls. One of the city’s most haunted sites is the Embassy Suites hotel in the downtown Historic District. Known as the Old Citadel, the building formerly housed the State Arsenal and military college, which is located just a short drive away nowadays. Legend has it that The Lost Cadet, or “Half Head,” roams the hotel’s halls to this day. The spirit is said to be a young solider missing the top half of his head after losing it to a cannonball. But despite his misfortune, he apparently has a joyful demeanor. Read More »
Halloween looms in the near future (though we must confess, we’ve been planning our costumes for months) and we’re doing just about everything we can to get into the spooky spirit. Carving pumpkins? Check. Watching a scary movie? Check. Visiting a spooky spot? Check. In fact, some of our favorite hotels are not only home to quaint rooms, delicious restaurants, and friendly staff — they also host resident ghosts. Fortunately, most of these shady figures are reportedly nice enough, but it certainly gives us a little chill when checking-in. Especially when we’re visiting the chilly Northeast. Continue reading — if you dare — to learn more about the spooky specters that haunt the Northeast’s hotels.
Enter the Jailhouse Inn...at your own risk...
The ghostlore: Originally built in 1772, the Jailhouse Inn occupies what used to be the old Newport County Jail. In keeping with the jail theme, the inn features interesting little artifacts and details throughout, such as iron bars over the lobby front desk, framed articles about famous criminals, and signs directing guests to “solitary” and various “cell blocks.” Stories abound of ghosts visiting the Jailhouse, so if you keep your eyes open perhaps you’ll see one too — especially if you stay on the third floor. Guests have felt cool gusts of wind when it’s hot outside and no windows are open, and others have heard whispering voices that can’t be explained — all evidence of paranormal activity.
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