April 2010

Mandarin Room 201

Mandarin Room 201 at Maison 140

Maison 140 is a unique boutique (say that 10 times fast!) designed by Playboy-bunny-turned-interior-decorator, Kelly Wearstler. As part of the daring style she imparted on this 43-room Beverly Hills hotel (in the former home of silent film star Lillian Gish), Wearstler decorated every room in different colors, patterns, and fabrics. From red pagoda-print wallpaper to plush yellow headboards to pineapple-shaped lamps — the style is in the details. Below you’ll find more photos of the individual rooms Wearstler has brought to life in this bold boutique.

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The Westfield San Francisco Centre has some surprisingly excellent food.

Several restaurants at the Westfield San Francisco Centre take a gourmet approach to fast food.

A mall food court doesn’t usually inspire great cuisine. Wipe those visions of greasy Chinese food, cardboard pizza, and mediocre ice cream out of your mind. If you’re shopping at Westfield San Francisco Centre (865 Market Street), near Union Square’s Hotel Nikko or Kensigton Park Hotel, try out some local fast food that’s kid-friendly and gourmet to boot.

Out the Door: This Vietnamese restaurant is brought to you by famed chef Charles Phan of the Slanted Door. Sit down or get take-out — including wine and beer — and enjoy shaking beef or chicken claypot with ginger and cilantro.

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Best Disney World buffets

by Carl Trent on April 23, 2010

Boma Flavor's of Africa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Boma - Flavors of Africa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Where are the best Disney World buffets? It’s a good question with a yummy answer.  I know what you’re thinking: A buffet, yuck. But reserve your judgment until you’ve tried one — Walt Disney World’s buffets may surprise you.

The most interesting of the Disney World buffets is the breakfast and dinner at Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Boma offers African inspired dishes like Couscous Marrakesh and FuFu (sweet and mashed potatoes with coriander and cinnamon). This is a meal is for the adventurous palate. It has flavors that aren’t your typical American meat and potatoes.

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“Hotel 91 is a new 70 room smoke free hotel located in Manhattan’s vibrant Lower East Side. Chinatown, Little Italy, SoHo, Wall Street, and other major NYC attractions are only steps away.”

So says its website. Here’s the real breakdown:

  • Chinatown: 0 steps
  • Little Italy: 1,000 steps
  • SoHo: 1,600 steps
  • Wall Street: 2,200 steps

As you can see in the photos below, it seems that the Hotel 91 is trying hard to distance itself from its actual location — under the Manhattan Bridge, in the bustling heart of Chinatown.

Hotel 91's marketing photo

Hotel 91's marketing photo

Oyster's photo

Oyster's photo

See what’s really just steps from the Hotel 91, after the jump.

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Foster Botanical Garden, Oahu, Hawaii

Visiting the island of Oahu isn’t all about beaches and hula dancers. For garden aficionados, it’s a chance to explore the kind of tropical vegetation that probably doesn’t grow at home. Happily, there are a number of excellent botanical gardens on the island featuring the lush green and eye-popping colors of plants like heliconia, ginger, and giant fern (and one garden that may surprise you!). Better yet? The cost of admission won’t bust your vacation budget, and many are even free. Our top five picks are below.

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The Santa Cruz Boardwalk

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Warm summer weather and vacations often equal thrill rides and hot dogs on a stick. While San Francisco isn’t known for theme parks (the same way a certain Southern California city certainly is), you can get your fill by renting a car for the day and heading to the coast. The roller coasters that is. Here are three Bay Area amusement parks to consider.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk (Santa Cruz, CA): Set on the Pacific 

Ocean, this traditional boardwalk has free concerts in addition to the rides. Come for a few hours or the whole day, while trying out the historic 1911 Looff carousel — It has one of the few “brass ring” machines left in the country. You can lean over from your wooden carousel horse and grab a ring, then toss it into a clown’s mouth a few seconds later. The Boardwalk has rides for all ages.

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The front desk at Fashion 26

The front desk at Fashion 26

There’s a new hotel on the block in Chelsea: Fashion 26 opened its doors last week, and this sleek Wyndham looks like it might emerge as a real competitor to the nearby Hotel Indigo. We got an early peek at the property yesterday morning (we like to give hotels a few months to settle in before we do our full undercover review), and it appears to have devoted resources to the right places: the contemporary, stylish lobby, the upscale burger restaurant, Rare Bar & Grill, compact rooms decked out with Frette linens, iPod docks, flat-screen TVs, and Ghilchrist & Soames toiletries, and a soon-to-open rooftop bar. Whether or not all the moving parts combine to make a seamlessly working whole remains to be seen (you’ll have to wait for the full review), so for now, we’ll have to let the photos speak for themselves. Check them out after the jump.

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California poppies scatter the walking trail along Ring Mountain in San Francisco

Spring flowers may be the primary product of April showers according to conventional wisdom, and in the hills and green belt areas that ring the San Francisco Bay Area there are plenty of those. But another result of all that water is, well…. more water than most of us are used to. Which means certain types of wildflowers, particularly the delicate ones that like marshy meadows and moist crevices are blooming in abundance. It also means creeks and streams are running higher than usual — though sadly, that hasn’t brought the spawning salmon back — and waterfalls are absolutely spectacular.

When you’re cultured out and ready to take a break from San Francisco’s overwhelming wealth of arty neighborhoods and eclectic restaurants, all it takes is a quick spin north or east and you’re alone under big skies. Here are three of my favorite wildflower hikes, all within an hour’s drive of San Francisco. Read More »

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Oyster's new brand pages allow you to browse hotels by your favorite hotel chains.

Oyster's new brand pages allow you to browse hotels by your favorite hotel chains.

We’ve been making a lot of changes lately here at Oyster. You may have noticed some of the work we’ve had done, but a lot of it — like a good face lift — has been somewhat subtle. Below, we’ll let you in on some of the new stuff you may have missed.

We realize that not every traveler starts their search with a destination in mind. Many of you know what type of trip you want — a family spring break vacation, or a spa getaway — but not necessarily where you want it. Which is why we created theme pages for different types of travelers. Click here to see all of the categories — and keep your eyes peeled for more to come!

We are also are looking out for you nit-picky travelers who know exactly what you want — whether it’s a Kimpton hotel in San Francisco, a New York hotel near the Empire State building, or hotels with babysitting in Aruba. Our new brand pages, our lists of hotels near popular points of interest, and our lists of hotels by amenity will help you find hotels to meet your specific needs.

To hear more about what’s new at Oyster — from exciting new content to hot deals — be sure to sign up for our newsletter.

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Angels Flight, the "shortest railway in the world"

Angels Flight was built in 1901, and is called the “Shortest railway in the world”.   Just a short distance from its original location, Angels Flight is at 351 South Hill Street.  Parts of Downtown Los Angeles are very steep, and Angel’s Flight was built to transport people from one fashionable area to another, without  having to climb the steep hill. At the time, downtown was the center of the city, as the city hadn’t built out toward the beach yet, and Beverly Hills was mostly orange groves. Read More »

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