July 2010

The beautiful Crystal Springs Reservoir off of Interstate 280

One of the best kept secrets by Bay Area locals, Interstate 280 doubles as a fast commuter road and the most beautiful Interstate in the region. Start by puttering down 19th Avenue through the City. After you pass San Francisco State University and off the city streets, get your speed on. The speed limit on I280 is 65mph, but you’ll see locals driving much faster .

But don’t jet down the asphalt so fast that you miss the change from cityscape to rolling hills dotted with native oaks, elegant mansions, and the occasional herd of cows. The lovely views continue south until Cupertino, where the suburban industry of the Silicon Valley crowds in on the freeway until it becomes I680 and loops around to Milpitas, becoming less pretty and crammed with commuters.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

The Venice in California has canals, too!

Did you know that Venice — the one in California — has canals?  Venice, California, was originally modeled after Venice, Italy.  Some of the canals are still there, in a beautiful upscale neighborhood, where no cars are allowed.  Visiting these canals when visiting famous Venice Beach is a must-see.

Venice Beach is notorious for the sideshow performers, tarot card readers, muscle men lifting weights, roller skaters (still there!), and various other characters.  However, tucked away just behind Abbot Kinney Boulevard (a great shopping street), are the original canals, as envisioned by Abbot Kinney himself in 1905.  There were originally 16 miles of canals dug, and although only a portion remains, the history is legendary.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

The beautiful Jamaica Inn has pleased guests like Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe with its charm, quiet luxury and breathtaking views.

Travel and Leisure‘s 15th-annual reader survey of the top 100 hotels was published in the August 2010 edition of the magazine, and we here at Oyster were very pleased to see that T+L readers like the Jamaica Inn — which holds the title of #37 on their list — as much as we do! When we visited, we indulged in the hotel’s quiet luxury — the large, elegant rooms that all faced the sea (every single one!), the quiet beach (sans crowds), and the romantic four-poster bed frames. But we’re not the only ones the resort has won over — it was a favorite of Hollywood stars Marilyn Monroe and Katharine Hepburn, as well as dignitaries like Winston Churchill.

Follow our photo tour of the Jamaica Inn after the jump!

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Believe it or not, there's free yoga to be had in NYC

For you yoga lovers, flowing through poses is an important weekly (if not more) ritual. But, when you’re caught in the whirlwind that is “vacation,” visiting your yoga mat can be tricky. Fortunately, if you’re visiting New York City we’ve got good news for you. In the heart of the East Village on St. Marks Place, Yoga to the People makes keeping up your yoga, while traveling, easy. The studio offers several free, hour-long classes daily where you can stop in, stretch out, and take off to continue your NYC trip. Stay at the Bowery Hotel near Yoga to the People in the East Village.

About the Classes:

Classes cater to all levels of yoga (beginning, intermediate and difficult). Whether this is your first yoga class, or you’ve been practicing for years, you’ll be challenged, encouraged and reminded to attend to your body and your breath because it’s your practice. With a free-spirited, non-competitive atmosphere, this studio epitomizes the relationship between flow and breath, between body and earth. Yoga to the People’s experienced teachers will offer you a series of flows that explore your limitations.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

The Hyatt sadkfjalksjdflkajsdfasdf

The jacuzzi at the Hyatt at Fisherman's Wharf is family-friendly.

If you’re planning a summer getaway with the family but don’t know where to head, we highly recommend San Francisco – it’s a city chock-full of fun sights and activities for the whole clan. At Oyster, we understand that traveling with the kids can be tough. Luckily for you, we’ve identified the five hotels in San Francisco that we think are most accommodating to children and families to help ease your travel stresses. So whether it’s a spontaneous jaunt with the family or a long Labor Day weekend with kids in tow, check out our picks for the most kid-friendly hotels in San Francisco.

The rates shown below are for Labor Day weekend; feel free to click the “Book Now” button and check the rates for your travel dates, if they’re different.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Top of the Mark at InterContinental Mark Hopkins

For a magical, only-in-San Francisco experience, head to Luce restaurant in the InterContinental San Francisco for “Dinner & Cocktails With A View,” in conjunction with the Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins.

Every Wednesday through Saturday evening, diners can indulge in a 3-course dinner at Luce created by Chef Dominique Crenn, followed by two classic cocktails at the Top of the Mark on the 19th floor with jaw-dropping 360-degree city views. Or vice-versa, as you can also choose to have the cocktails first, then the dinner afterward.

View from The Top of the Mark

Price is $80 per person and includes dinner at Luce, with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine, and two classic martinis at the Top of the Mark. The price also includes complimentary access to the Top of the Mark, as well as a taxi voucher.

Reservations are required by calling either Luce at (415) 616-6566 or the Top of the Mark at (415) 616-6916.

– Carolyn Jung of FoodGal

{ 0 comments }

Entrance to The Plaza, where numerous films have been shot.

Entrance to The Plaza, where numerous films have been shot.

Here in New York City, occasionally we’re lucky enough to spot some of our favorite movie stars hiding behind their over-sized shades (or maybe we just thought that was Sarah Jessica Parker). But there are some big-screen stars that you just can’t miss on the streets of NYC — the hotels where the movies are filmed. Since it’s the season for summer lovin’, we decided to share a few top hotels featured in some of our favorite romantic comedies. So grab your hometown honey and head to one of these romantic, iconic properties, pop in a movie shot right where you’re staying, and get ready for a date-night you’ll never forget.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

The Estate bar in Boston

Whether visiting for the first or the fifteenth time, Boston imbues visitors and residents alike with a patriotic spirit and a sense of American enchantment. It’s one of the few big cities where GLBTs are offered equal rights as first-class citizens and live relatively hassle-free from bigotry and BS.  While the nerds hit the books and the heretics hit the “packies” (liquor stores), Boston’s more seasoned, post-pubescent residents revel in the city’s endless choices for awesome dining, adult-style binge drinking, and those “wicked pisser” nights. Below are the best places to party like a rock star this summer (before the 2 a.m. curfew quells your fun)!

28 Degrees – Named after the ideal temperature for martinis, 28 degrees is a sexy South End bar, trendy enough for the muscle hotties but not so pretentious that is scares away the lesbians.  The true “gay night” of this bar-and-restaurant combo is Thursdays before going to Glamlife at the Estate, but all other nights of the week the crowd is mixed and pleasant, with a VJ spinning pop favorites via ubiquitous TV screens. In spring and summer, prepare to claw another queen’s eyes out to get a seat on the front patio, an ideal spot for enjoying the super-strong cocktails and talking shit about the people passing by. 1 Appleton St.; (617) 728-0728

Club Cafe – Probably the most popular gay bar in Boston, Club Café has been packing the house since the mid1990s and shows no signs of stopping. Recently renovated in February 2010, Club Café is looking to for a sixth win as “Best of Boston Gay Bar.” The restaurant at the front of the complex boasts a cozy bar, popular seven nights a week. On the weekends, the Club part of Club Café opens up, with two expansive back rooms blasting pop music and bringing together Boston’s cutest nerds, seaside rough trade, and middle-aged professionals. To avoid the new $5 cover and ridiculous lines on Fridays and Saturdays, simply get a membership card from their website. A must try on any visit to Boston. 209 Columbus Ave.; (617) 536-0966

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

TK

Sofitel Los Angeles on Orbitz.com

TK

Sofitel Los Angeles on Oyster.com

Orbitz.com launched a new ad campaign on Friday that claims “When you Orbitz, you know.” According to the ads, you should research your vacation with Orbitz so that you can know what to expect when you arrive at your hotel. The television ads began on Friday, and print ads will pop up starting this month as well.

But consumers should be wary of this new campaign, as the exact opposite of its claim is true — especially when it comes to Orbitz’s photos. The photos used on Orbitz often look nothing like the reality that awaits our undercover hotel reviewers when they arrive at hotels.

“Orbitz’s product is part of the problem the ad highlights, not the solution,” says our CEO Elie Seidman.

Read More »

{ 3 comments }

The panoramic suite at the brand new InterContinental Times Square

The panoramic suite at the brand new InterContinental Times Square

It’s expected that New York City will see more than 7,000 new hotel rooms open in 2010, a staggering number in any economy. The great wave of hotel openings has begun, with Andaz Fifth Avenue’s soft opening last week, Gansevoort Park Avenue just around the corner, and the InterContinental Times Square opening this past Monday.

A soaring glass tower that sits one long block west of Times Square, the InterContinental Times Square opened this week, hoping to impress guests with a new Todd English brasserie, a touch-screen computer in every room, a pending LEED certification, and great views from many of the guest rooms.

We headed over to the hotel yesterday to get an early look and to take some photos for our readers. Below we’ll take you on a tour and provide you with some more thoughts on what we saw.

Read More »

{ 3 comments }