July 2012

All the anticipation accumulated during these last few months before the Games began has given way to a thriving, festive atmosphere in London. Tourists from every corner of the world fill the streets, bars and hotels, and the stores are as full as if it were Christmas. Knightsbridge, Covent Garden and Oxford Street are arguably the top spots in London for high-end shopping, but there’s a whole other world beyond the fashionable boutiques and name-brand clothing. Flea and street markets have been around for decades now and are a popular weekend activity for the young and hip — but since there are so many in London, it can be difficult to find the cool ones. Whether you’re looking for a unique piece of jewelry, a funky T-shirt, or a vintage dress, you’re sure to find it in one of them — check out our favorite markets in London and get ready to spend some pounds!

Shop: The Camden Markets

Camden Stables Market. Credit: JKristoffersson/istockphoto

Camden Stables Market. Credit: JKristoffersson/istockphoto

The Camden Markets are a cluster of adjoining retail markets in Camden Town, northwest of central London. Fixed stores and pop-up stalls offer everything from vintage clothes, to shoes, to music and books. It opens seven days a week, but Saturday and Sunday are the most popular and fun days. The Camden Stables Market is a historic market bursting with vintage clothing, antiques, collectables, and food stalls. The Camden Lock features arts and crafts, jewelry and a wide variety of books. For great fashion items, as well as crafts and food, head to Camden Lock Village. And if what you want to take back home is an assortment of souvenirs, the Iverness Street is the place to go.

 

Sleep: Ambassadors Bloomsbury

Deluxe Room at the Ambassadors Bloomsbury; London, UK

Deluxe Room at the Ambassadors Bloomsbury; London

The 100-room Ambassadors Bloomsbury is located in the historic literary heart of London, a 20-minute walk from the Camden Markets, and near the London Euston tube station, which is two stops from Camden Town. Beyond the convenient location, this hotel also offers bright rooms with crisp white linens and flat-screen TVs. Bathrooms are sleek and modern, and the stylish lobby offers free apples and filtered water. Number Twelve is the popular on-site bar and restaurant, serving three delicious meals a day along with traditional afternoon tea. This hotel offers good value for the location, especially with free Wi-Fi and a small fitness center.

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The Inn at Palmetto Bluff; Bluffton, SC Does the Inn at Palmetto Bluff want you to cool off with their custard?

 1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Inn at Palmetto Bluff offers a spa package available only this summer that includes a 30-minute massage with honeysuckle blood orange custard.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Four window washers had to be rescued last week from a work platform after it got stuck outside the Vdara Hotel & Spa’s 35th floor.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Hampton Inn Philadelphia City Center burnt down to ashes after a 26-year-old man set up a makeshift meth lab in his room.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Benjamin in New York has a sleep concierge that can sing lullabies and read fairy tales to your kids before they go to sleep.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? At any of the Affinia Hotels (like the Dumont or the Affinia Chicago), guests can personalize their stay with great extras including guitars available for rent, rubber duckies for the tub, and free cupcakes!

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What to Do in the Bahamas

There's way more in the Bahamas than just beaches.

Listen, we know the Bahamas has some amazing resorts and hotels. There are the requisite booze-fueled party fests, casino megaresorts, and value-minded boutiques. But the Caribbean archipelago has much more to offer than its hotel scene; namely lush national parks ripe for exploration, cultural markets and museums worth checking out, and of course, awesome water sports to dive right into. Wanna know how to turn your island vacation into an adrenaline-packed trip? Click through our slideshow to find out now!

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Infinity Pool at Esperanza Resort Los Cabos

Just envision yourself floating, people. Does the trick every time!

We’re often indecisive about the perennial pool vs. ocean debate — we want to like the ocean better because it’s just so beautiful, but we can’t help but love heated pools. Especially heated infinity pools that overlook the beach. Because that solves our problem of where we’d rather be, duh. Now if only we were actually at Esperanza Resort in Los Cabos right now. But whatever, pretend you are. So as we say every Monday, take a deep breath, sit back, relax and enjoy the Monday morning goodness that is the Esperanza Resort.

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Are you tuning in to the opening ceremonies?

It may seem like all they do is train, train, and train some more, but Olympians have to sleep at some point. And when they do, they often crash at some of the nicest hotels around the world. We here at Oyster have found out where some of our favorite (and one of our not-so-favorite) Olympians — past and present — have rested their heads when on the road. In honor of the games’ opening ceremony, beginning tonight at 7:30 p.m. EDT on NBC (check your local listings for stations), get inspired by photos of the incredible hotels where Olympians have slept, celebrated, and even thrown a few punches!

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Soaring Sunset at the Huntley Hotel Santa Monica Beach

Soaring Sunset at the Huntley Hotel Santa Monica Beach

This week, amid NYC’s honking horns and grey days, we couldn’t help but indulge in a little California dreamin’. Peace, quiet, and a tan, oh my — it sounds pretty nice — and we think a stroll down the Santa Monica Pier is just what the doctor ordered. At the Huntley Hotel, the focus is certainly on strolling and shopping in the hotel’s quirky neighborhood. Plus, the hotel’s top-notch restaurant boasts gorgeous views of the sunset that you — and the birds, apparently — will be drawn to.

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Seattle may be known as the home of grunge rock, Starbucks coffee, and grey skies, but that doesn’t mean its residents are grim. In fact, the city has one of the lowest crime rates in the entire country; and has both beautiful scenery and a bangin’ nightlife scene. But should locals (or visitors!) need a day off the java or a weekend without rain, there are plenty of nearby places to check out. The best part — each of these three trips takes less than three hours to drive, meaning if you only have one day to spend outside of Seattle, you can do it up right. So pack your bags, slather on some SPF (hey, you can burnt when there are clouds!) and hop in the whip — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Seattle to San Juan Islands, WA

  • Total Driving Time: 2 hours, 46 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 104 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’re looking for an island escape that doesn’t require a transcontinental flight.
San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands offer Seattlites a quick break from city life.

The Outlook Inn

The Outlook Inn offers amazing views from its perch on Orca Island.

Bird Rock Hotel

The Bird Rock Hotel is within walking distance of the ferry landing.

The San Juan Islands (a collection of around 800; 600 of the isles are unnamed) are a popular summer getaway for Washingtonians, and have a relaxed, back-to-nature vibe; expect farmlands, evergreen forests, nature trails, whale-watching, and mom-and-pop shops. Popular activities include hiking, wildlife spotting (whale-watching in particular is common, and the Shark Reef trail on Lopez Island leads to a harbor seal hangout), sailing, and kayaking. For those days when it does rain, the islands have several wineries, farms, and museums. Although properties are more intimate than luxurious, the Outlook Inn is a romantic boutique that boasts killer views of Eastsound from almost anywhere you can stand. Service is incredibly personalized, and perks like free Wi-Fi and fresh food from an on-site cafe make this hotel a choice pick. Those with slimmer budgets should check out the Bird Rock Hotel, a charming, 15-room no-frills B&B. The hotel’s central location, though, is definitely the highlight — just a block from the ferry landing, and within walking distance to plenty of shopping and dining in downtown Friday Harbor.

  • Top Driving Tip: In peak season (summer), the ferries fill up fast — so you’ll need to arrive early in order to ensure you get on board, as the lines can take hours to get through. You can find the latest ferry schedule here.

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Grounds at The Norwich Inn

Grounds at The Norwich Inn

The historic Norwich Inn — where President James Monroe and Dr. Seuss have both stayed — is a quaint, well-maintained inn with just 38 rooms. Rooms have a cozy New England feel, with floral wallpaper, Victorian antiques, and exposed brick, but they also offer modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Rooms are divided between the Main House, Ivy House, and Walker House, and vary both in size and decor. Though they’re not particularly upscale, they are certainly charming and the inn exudes a welcoming vibe with quaint grounds (leaf-covered in the fall, snow-covered in the winter), friendly innkeepers, and a spot right on Main Street in the quiet town of Norwich. While The Norwich Inn is popular with those visiting nearby Dartmouth College, it also attracts visitors for its on-site brewery, pub, and dining room. See more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now»

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Makena Beach and Golf Resort -- Maui, HI

Golf Course at Makena Beach and Golf Resort -- Maui

A round of golf can always do a body good. Sure, golf can be one of the most frustrating sports on the planet, [Ed. note: We've seen a few snapped clubs in our day.] but there’s nothing like the feeling when you sink that putt for eagle. (Not that we can speak from personal experience, per se, but we’ve heard stories.) So what could possibly make hitting the links even better? Gorgeous ocean views, duh. For all you golfers out there – Hi, Dad! — we found twelve beautiful hotel golf courses around the globe that have killer vistas to boot. Pack your clubs and get ready to work on your swing–these spots will be sure to inspire you to play your very best.

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It seems like everyone has a case of Olympic fever lately, and marine mammals are no exception. They didn’t make it to London for this year’s summer games, but our best dolphin friends down at the Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys may just qualify for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — look at their form! Even if they’re not quite as popular as those other aquatic Olympians (we’d argue that they’re almost as cute as Ryan Lochte), they still make quite a splash.

Dolphin Connection at the Hawks Cay Resort

Read our caption after the jump, then enter your own in the comments section below!

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