Pop Culture and Travel

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Photo by Ed Schipul

Superstition is a touchy subject. Even the most rational traveler might take a pause before booking a flight on Friday the 13th — although he or she may never actually admit it to friends and family. While researching the most haunted hotels in the world, we ran into a number of travel superstitions in Asia, a continent with a culture that can take dealing with ghosts pretty seriously. While not everyone in Asia believes in ghosts, there is a general consensus among the believers that hotel rooms in particular can attract the departed as a kind of way station between this life and the next. Curious, we asked self-proclaimed “modern-day nomad” Nellie Huang –  who grew up in Singapore and now writes about her travel adventures for the likes of Food & Travel and CNN Go – for her take on ghost culture in Asia. She also gave us some tips on what to look for — and then we did some in-depth research to ensure we know how to avoid ghosts while traveling!

Get her tips and takes after the jump >>

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Perhaps because they serve as the venues for raucous parties, maybe because people are more likely to be up to no good while away from home, or possibly because checking in under an alias can make you feel invincible, but no matter the reason, hotels are often the scene of the crime for numerous scandals. Chief among them? The celebrity cheating scandals that fill the tabloids…and often ultimately end marriages. Just last week, Paula Patton filed for divorce from singer Robin Thicke, whom she had dated since she was 14, and Thicke admitted it was because he finally “told her the truth” about his drug use and infidelity — much of which took place while on the road. So while it’s sad to see, we did some research and found the hotels where celebrities have allegedly cheated on their significant others. Maybe this will serve as a precautionary tale (or maybe it’ll just give you the scoop on hot celebrity-sighting hotels), but either way, here are five hotels where famous celebs holed up to hook up.

Robin Thicke at The Greenwich Hotel

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Although “Blurred Lines” singer Robin Thicke and wife Paula Patton have been separated for months, Patton just filed for divorce last week, allegedly because she decided her longtime partner’s infidelity was unforgivable. The cheating scandal broke last summer, when socialite Lana Scolaro claimed that she and Thicke hooked up at a VMAs after-party at The Greenwich Hotel. Although the couple’s publicist downplayed the accusation, it didn’t help that pretty telling photos of Thicke with Scolaro were released online.

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Merlin’s beard! This hotel room gives a whole new meaning to “magical getaway.” If you’re hoping to channel Harry Potter on your next trip, the Wizard Chamber at London’s Georgian House is full of wizardly goodness: from a “cauldron” by the fireplace, to an owl figurine by the bed, from old-fashioned luggage under the bed, to “potions” in the bathroom. Just BYO-W(and).

Guests who book the Harry Potter Tour Package not only get to stay in the Wizard Chamber, but the package also includes breakfast, a Muggle Walking Tour, and a Warner Brothers Studio Tour on the making of Harry Potter.

Want a preview? We don’t have a magic mirror, but we DO have lots of great photos after the jump >>

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3215777143_9fd88fc35b_b[SPOILER ALERT: The following article makes some rather pointed insinuations about the film's plot.]

If you’re anything like us, you breathlessly awaited the premier of Gone Girl, the dark psychological thriller based on Gillian Flynn’s best-selling book. Starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as that oh-so-charming couple, Nick and Amy, it hit theaters earlier this month. And just in case you’ve been living under a rock (we prefer luxury hotels, ourselves, but no judgement), the book (and movie) begin on the day that Amy has mysteriously disappeared. We’re not going to tell you what happened to her (she MAY have been murdered, or she MAY have been shacking up at a motel in the Ozarks as part of an elaborate ruse to frame her husband). But for argument’s sake, let’s just say she was shacking up — and that she encountered some unsavory fellow hotel guests who robbed her. We personally think Amy (hypothetically, of course!) could have done a whole lot better in her hotel choice. If only she’d known about Oyster! Because we could have helped her out…but better late than never. So, travelers and unhappy spouses of the world, we bring you seven hotels that we think are smart places to hide out — next time you want to get gone. Read More »

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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

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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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Oktoberfest is the world’s greatest beer festival — and the celebration kicks off around the globe on Saturday! But this party isn’t just about guzzling steins of frothy brew while tapping your toes to German Oompah. (Although there’s plenty of that. And we fully support it.) It’s also an excuse to celebrate just about anything Bavarian — including pretzels, bratwurst, and pork knuckles. So while you’re deciding whether to wear gauplattlerhosen or lederhosen — we found some great spots to hang your hat, German-style. At these top Berlin hotels, your next stein is always within arm’s reach.

Hotel Adlon Kempinski

Hotel Adlon

If you can snag an invite to Käfer’s Wies’n-Schänke (Germany’s VIP beer tent) — then Hotel Adlon Kempinski is your cup of tea lager. The 382-room hotel continues to attract an A-list clientele; this is where Michael Jackson infamously dangled his baby son from a balcony in 2002. It’s an elegant, classic hotel with a rich history. Its predecessor was one of the most popular hotels in Europe through World War II, hosting guests such as Charlie Chaplin and Josephine Baker. The original building was demolished, but after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a building inspired by the original was built on the same location near the Brandenburg Gate.

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We gave you all the deets on Fashion Week in New York and London, and now glamorous Milan is up next on the multi-city Fashion Week circuit, with the festivities kicking off on Wednesday. Milan is “the most” at many things in Italy; it’s the most modern, the most business-oriented, the (nearly) most populated, and the (arguably) most stylish city in the country. And we’ve got to agree with the latter claim. After all, it plays home base to luxury fashion houses such as Prada, Valentino, Armani, Versace, Missoni, Miu Miu, Etro, Dolce & Gabana, and many, many more, and it also has some of the most fashionable hotels in the world. Take a peek at Milan’s most stylish hotels, that are sure to be hot spots during the next fews days as Milan Fashion Week takes center stage.

Bulgari Milano

Bulgari Milano

It’s no surprise that a Bulgari property would be fashionable. This uber-luxurious hotel is one of the best places to see and be seen in the fashion scene of Milan, and it has a price tag to match. An 18th-century renovated mansion on 4,000 square meters of private gardens, the 58-room property is within walking distance of shopping venues like Prada and Gucci, yet still manages to feel secluded. Bulgari Milano is loaded with every conceivable amenity, from a world renowned spa to a sleek bar and gourmet restaurant. There are some complaints that rooms are too small for the price and that the color scheme is gloomy — but everyone in fashion knows that black never goes out of style.

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New York Fashion Week may have come have to a close, but don’t fret — London Fashion Week has just arrived. And with hot U.K. labels like Stella McCartney, Temperley London, and Burberry Prorsum, we know that the catwalk will be just as innovative across the pond as it was here in New York. Plus, tons of celebs, models, and designers will be out and about in their finest fashions. (Duh.) They’ll be hitting up the hottest restaurants, bars, and clubs in the city — so get ahead of the curve and check out the see-and-be-seen spots in London for the fashion elite.

Langham Hotel London

THE HOT SPOT: Afternoon Tea

Restaurant at the Langham Hotel London; London, England

WHY IT’S HOT: One thing London has that New York doesn’t? Afternoon tea. The Langham Hotel, a five-pearl spot that oozes exclusivity, has a great West End location in Marylebone that’s within walking distance of numerous designer shops (should you have forgotten that must-wear LBD). And the Langham’s Palm Court is noted as the birthplace of the afternoon tea tradition, dating back to the hotel’s opening in 1865. Fashionistas can enjoy sipping on tea selected by their sommelier and nibble on dainty finger foods before heading off to the next show. And bonus? Bradley Cooper has been spotted here quite often recently as he’s been filming in the area.

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Credit: Justin Campbell/startraksphoto.com; Credit: Jayme Oak/startraksphoto.com; Credit: Freddy Baez/startraksphoto.com

Okay, so today may be Labor Day…which may mean that summer is coming to a close (sob). But we love every season, and there’s something about the brisk fall weather that puts a little pep in our step…or stiletto, as the case may be, because in just three days (on Thursday, September 4) New York Fashion Week helps to officially kick off the fall. Already, we’ve seen plenty of celebs out and about in the city, and most are shacking up in their usual haunts — i.e. the city’s hippest, most luxurious hotels. Take a peek after the jump to find out where your favorite celebrity fashionistas might be staying, and then strut on over to that hotel to see them decked out in fall’s hottest trends!

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Lights, camera, action! Over the last several decades, hotels have played important roles in the film industry. Some iconic scenes — like Julia Roberts and Richard Gere bathing in Pretty Woman – will forever be a part of cinematic history and were actually filmed at hotels, instead of on sound stages. Most hotels that make it to the big screen are (for obvious reasons) primarily in Los Angeles and New York, but many others across the country get scouted to become shooting locations as well. So we’ve found 9 hotels all over that have been prominently featured in movies. Even if you never become a movie star yourself, you can at least visit these properties and feel like you’re walking through a film set. And sure, you’ll happily sign a few autographs.

Beverly Wilshire Beverly Hills – A Four Seasons Hotel

Beverly Wilshire

Let’s start with the iconic Beverly Wilshire – a top luxury pick for business or leisure, families or couples. With beautiful guest rooms, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, and a great spa, pool, and fitness center — plus doting Four Seasons service, it’s a classic five-star property. The hotel was featured prominently in the 1990 film Pretty Woman and it’s certainly proud of this; you can even borrow one of the many DVD copies from the concierge’s library. In the film, Julia Roberts plays Vivian Ward, a Hollywood prostitute who’s hired by Richard Gere’s wealthy businessman character. Their relationship develops over their week-long stay in the Presidential Suite at the hotel. From the couple soaking in the suite’s luxurious tub to Vivian walking through the lobby with numerous bags from shopping on nearby Rodeo Drive, the hotel received a lot of screen time in the classic rom-com.

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