Travel Tips

palm springsEven though we’ve been trying to embrace all things fall, we still can’t help but feel like summer came and went too quickly this year. And while fireplaces and fall reading and apple picking are all nice, we’d still love some time defined by warm weather, sandy shoes, and suntan lotion – especially as the temperatures start to drop, and drop, and drop some more. So we’ve come up with an Endless Summer Series to satisfy our sand-and-sun dreamin’. It’s a simple idea based on the fact that no matter what month it is, it’s summer somewhere. And since it doesn’t get much hotter than the desert, we figured that was a pretty good place to start sizzling. No need to throw in the (beach) towel on your warm weather wanderlust!

Click through the jump to get all the scoop on Palm Springs in September…and where to stay for every budget >>

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Here at Oyster, we love a good book anytime of year – but there’s something about the fall that encourages us to curl up with a new read. Maybe it’s the shorter days and roaring fireplaces… And since travel and reading often go hand-in-hand (how many times have you gotten through an insanely long layover with a good book?!), we put together a list of worthy titles for your next trip — and paired them with a perfectly suited hotel, of course.  Let us know which books you’re loving this fall in the comments section below. Happy reading!

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham

Wythe

Ms. Dunham’s hotly anticipated collection of personal essays has been tauted by some of the best in the business, including David Sedaris and Judy Blume.  Fans of HBO’s Girls are sure to love, and laugh at, Lena’s written take on everything from traveling in Israel to her childhood therapy sessions to dating at a liberal arts college in Ohio. The book is aimed to give Millennials life advice, but readers of all ages will recognize parts of themselves in this occasionally cringeworthy tell-all. The book hits stores on September 30th.

Read it here: Wythe Hotel, New York City

We suggest reading Not That Kind of Girl at the Wythe Hotel in cool-kid mecca Williamsburg for a taste of Girls favorite borough.

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Suburbia often gets overlooked, especially by those planning a vacation – often an adventurous vacation purposely away from the cookie cutter homes and manicured lawns that the suburbs are known for. But sometimes, a touch of the familiar can be reassuring when exploring a new city. And hotels outside the city limits — but near enough at hand to get to all of the action with ease — usually come at a fraction of the cost of their city neighbors. In fact, some of Oyster’s favorite hotels call the suburbs home. From New York City to London and beyond, we have found charming hotel options outside of the major city limits that are just waiting to welcome you with open arms and suburban flair. (Trust us, it exists. See for yourself below.)

1. The Box House Hotel
Located in a suburb of: New York City

box house

New Yorkers are used to commuting. The suburbs give the great isle of Manhattan a chance to really spread out and breathe — as much as one can in one of the five boroughs. Vacationers looking to pinch a few pennies and experience another side of the City that Never Sleeps should explore Manhattan’s neighbors. And for a real dose of Brooklyn, what many (hipsters) consider the best corner of NYC, it doesn’t get more authentic than The Box House Hotel. This former door factory houses 57 apartment-style rooms designed by local Brooklynite Kip Jacobs, who is a friend of the owners. The spacious rooms and lofts (some sleep six) attract families, couples and those conducting business — mostly film crews. Modern kitchens and free extras include bottled water and coffee, rides within a mile-and-a-half radius, and use of the stylish fitness center. This is a hidden gem for those seeking breathing room and easy access to Manhattan. 

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Let’s play a game of “would you rather.” Would you rather stay in a cute boutique in Istanbul or a dated (but canal-side) hotel in Venice? A historic country estate in Ireland or a stylish, woodsy hotel on the fjords in Norway? Everyone’s preferences are different, but one thing is for sure: Not every destination around the globe will deliver the same level of accommodations for your travel dollar. That’s why we decided to launch a new series to expose just how much bang for your buck you’re actually getting on your trip.  It may change your mind about where to go next…and you may even find yourself packing your bags for somewhere unexpected — but totally awesome, and affordable! This week, we’re taking a look at what you can get in cities across Europe. The price: $250/night. The dates: October 10th through 17th. And we’re off!

Which hotel would you choose? VOTE ON FACEBOOK or let us know in the comments section below!

Hotel Indigo London Kensington – Earl’s Court: $237/night

Hotel Indigo London Kensington

This is one of the trendiest Indigo properties anywhere, with bold, stylish decor and a quirky theme that’s inspired by Victorian manor houses (which this hotel once was) and French boudoir style. Each floor is themed after a different color (think: lime, teal, or fuchsia), and the hallways are lined with portraits of Lordships and Ladyships. There’s not a lot to dislike, although the hotel’s address isn’t the major selling point — the location on the west edge of Kensington is accessible (via the nearby Earl’s Court tube station), but there’s not a lot within walking distance.

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Newsflash! Visiting the world’s most expensive cities doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be forced to stay in the world’s most expensive hotels. Though the suite life can be tempting when hoteling in the globe’s most affluent destinations, what’s feasible for the rich and famous often doesn’t align with what’s feasible for the rest of us. Thankfully, there are fantastic budget options in pricey towns that offer a lot of bang for your buck — so you can use that extra cash towards your eight-euro bottle of water. From London to Singapore and back again, we’ve got the lowdown on hotels that won’t break your bank…in cities that threaten to do just that! Though some cities are even too rich for Oyster’s blood — we’ll get to you soon Lausanne! — here are our top picks for the best budget stays in the world’s most expensive cities.

London: Generator Hostel London
Price: $39/night

HOSTEL LONDON

The Generator Hostel represents a new type of high-end “hostelling” which puts a real emphasis on creating fun, chilled-out atmospheres conducive to interaction between guests. The Generator is one such property and is a good choice for both young solo travelers and groups, offering dorms for up to 12 people as well as private rooms (though some are cramped). The cafe, bar, and cinema room are all great spaces to relax, and the hostel’s event program is a nice touch. There are few properties with as good a central London location that also promise such a snazzy vibe on the cheap in the world’s most expensive city.

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New York City is a one-of-a-kind town. So it only seems right that your stay in the Big Apple be one-of-a-kind as well. Forget chain hotels with cookie cutter appointments: In NYC, there is a new and exciting hotel waiting to be discovered on nearly every street corner (you just probably haven’t noticed them before). Whether you want to stay in a classic brownstone that doubles as an art gallery, or you prefer a high-design, budget-friendly hostel, New York City has it all — and Oyster has been lucky enough to have seen them all in our travels. Here are a dozen of our favorite unique hotel stays in New York City.

1. The Inn at Irving Place

irving

This charming, cozy inn is a hidden gem — quite literally. There is no hotel sign at all, and from the street, the two 19th-century, red-brick townhouses that make up the property could be mistaken for residential homes. And it’s this — coupled with an attention to detail and old-world charm – that sets this quaint boutique hotel apart from the rest of the city’s smaller stays. The Inn at Irving Place‘s 12 rooms have been individually decorated with period antiques and fireplaces, and feature modern amenities, such as flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi. The property lacks most of the amenities of larger hotels, including a fitness center and a full restaurant — but it does offer an elegant tea salon (the famous Lady Mendyll’s), a central location a block from Union Square, and an intimate feel that’s hard to come by in bustling New York City.  Read More »

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For travelers on a budget, a jaunt to the Mediterranean might seem off limits. Known for its gorgeous scenery, temperate climate, sumptuous cuisine, and sky-high price tags, the area is often thought of as a playground exclusively for the rich and famous. But we believe everyone deserves a fabulous vacation and a trip to the Mediterranean is, well, fabulous! So our team of Oyster investigators has searched high and low to find hotels across the Mediterranean that are a little more wallet-friendly  than you’d expect. (We don’t expect any thanks and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves but, sure — you’re welcome). Here are 11 of our favorites.

Villaggio Colostrai, Sardinia

Villaggio Colostrai

Villaggio Colostrai is a budget traveler’s best bet in Sardinia. The hotel offers a free breakfast buffet, nightly activities for adults and children, and free parking. Rooms are pretty basic, and the hotel doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, but its manicured grounds and incredible pool, with sweeping views of the Mediterranean, will certainly make up for any shortcomings.

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An old fable tells the tale of the city mouse and the country mouse (or the city oyster and the country oyster in our case — we know, it’s a bit of a stretch). The story ends with a precautionary warning: cities are crowded, dangerous, and unsavory. But, here at Oyster, we’ve never met a city we didn’t like! Though they may be a bit busier than the countryside, cities are hubs of history, culture, and entertainment. So we suggest you leave the quiet country behind and give the city a whirl. Here are eight megacities (cities with populations of over 10 million people) we can’t get enough of.

New York

new york

Some call it the Big Apple, others the “City That Never Sleeps,” but no matter its name, New York is truly one of the greatest cities in the world. With a population of nearly 24 million people, New York’s magnitude may at first seem daunting, but this city’s crowds are part of its splendor. The large population is incredibly diverse, which means visitors have access to every type of restaurant, bar, and entertainment venue imaginable. Amongst innumerable, unique neighborhoods, visitors will discover iconic skyscrapers, world class museums, fantastic shopping, and all around vibrancy.

Where to Stay: Mandarin Oriental, New York

The Mandarin Oriental is located just across the street from the lively Columbus Circle. With decadent, yet sleek ,decor and sweeping views of Central Park, the Mandarin Oriental is a wise choice for guests seeking a more modern twist on classic upscale choices like The Plaza or The Pierre.

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It’s hard to pick just one spot to visit in Southern Italy. After all, it seems that every corner of the region is rife with beautiful scenery, architecture, and attractions. But if you’re just in the area for a quick trip, it’s worth starting your time in Sorrento. A laid-back, seaside town set on a cliff, Sorrento is surrounded by some of Italy’s more popular tourist destinations – Naples and Pompeii to the north; the island of Capri just offshore; Positano and the famed Amalfi Coast to the east. With a large selection of hotels and easy transportation options, it’s the perfect home base for a southern Italian vacation. Aside from being a gateway to other areas, Sorrento is also a lovely place to stay. Scented by lemon groves and offering stunning views of the Bay of Naples, its Old World charm remains intact, with a maze of beautiful, cobbled backstreets and an assortment of quaint shops. Here are six of our favorite Sorrento hotels.

Grand Hotel Royal

Grand Hotel Royal. Sorrento, Italy

Grand Hotel Royal. Sorrento, Italy

Grand Hotel Royal is set dramatically above the Bay of Naples, with floor-to-ceiling windows that open out onto the well-manicured garden and pool overlooking the bay. It’s only a short walk from Piazza Tasso, popularly considered the center of Sorrento’s old town, and the area’s train station is also a few minutes walk away. There’s frequent service heading towards Naples, with stops at stations that offer access to the Herculaneum and Pompeii. The ferry station with service to Capri is close by the hotel as well.

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What’s the secret to a great family vacation? Finding a location that allows everyone to explore and have fun – at their own pace. A spot where the kids (most likely bursting with energy) can have a blast while you enjoy a relaxing massage and a margarita…or several margaritas. (Go ahead – it’s vacation.) And generally a beach destination can deliver on all these fronts. So we’ve rounded up the best kid-friendly, tropical vacation spots that feature safe and fun places to play, kid-friendly restaurants, and all sorts of activities, even if the sun goes into hiding for a day or two. And Mom and Dad will be just as happy at these spots as well.

Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort & Spa

Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort and Spa With ten pools, a sprawling (45,000-square-foot) water park, a shopping center, a spa complex, and more restaurants than you can shake a breadstick at, the family-friendly Beaches is one of the most features-heavy resorts in Turks and Caicos. With a pirate-themed Sesame Street Treasure Caravan; 12 miles of white sand beach; pools staffed by lifeguards; Pirate’s Island Waterpark featuring two waterslides; AND Crayola Art Camps (whew!), your little ones can be entertained while you head for a rum punch. For the tweens and teens, there’s a Martha Stewart Crafts Studio, a (teen-appropriate) nightclub and lounge, an Xbox games garage, and even a DJ academy.

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