November 2012

With Spanish flair and Native American style, Albuquerque has some of the coolest decor in the Southwest.

Albuquerque is one of the Southwest’s most stunning — and eclectic — gems, with plenty of Spanish influence and Native American art. The city has its share of great sights, indoors and out, but we sure are suckers for its iconic Southwest decor: adobe walls, Navajo prints, rustic wooden furniture — the list goes on and on. Take a look at a few our favorite hotels that embrace the local culture and get inspired!


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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One of the food capitals of the world (sorry, but there can’t be just one), New York City boasts tons of fabulous restaurants helmed by celebrated chefs. Traveling just a few blocks, you can’t help but walk by a renowned restaurant, whether it boasts reliable, traditional fare or funky fusion that you can’t find anywhere else. But restaurants that have been awarded a Michelin star — well, they’re few and far between, even in this foodie capital. Because receiving a Michelin star means going above and beyond with inventive dishes, offering delicious cuisine in a fabulous atmosphere. Take a bite out of our favorite Michelin-starred restaurants, housed at hotels in New York City.

Gordon Ramsay at The London, The London NYC

Stars: 2

Ramsay also heads The Maze at The London.

Ramsay also heads The Maze at The London.

The first restaurant the celebrity chef opened stateside, Gordon Ramsay at The London is an elegant fine-dining spot offering French-inspired cuisine. Open for dinner only, the restaurant boasts over-the-top, multiple-course menus (that are also, not unexpectedly, uber expensive), as well as an extensive and impressive wine list. The five-course Prestige menu includes delectable plates such as foie gras, with spiced apricot and black truffle, and poached Tasmanian trout, with cucumber, preserved chilli, sea urchin, and Australian finger lime.

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It is one of the country’s most enduring battles: East Coast vs. West Coast. When it comes to travel, each destination has its definite perks, and absolute disadvantages. New York City, reppin’ the East Coast, natch, is a cultural melting pot and is home to world-famous Broadway musicals. But it is also loud, cramped, and expensive. And Los Angeles may have the bright lights of Hollywood and gorgeous sandy beaches, but it’s also home to infamously bad traffic and transportation, as well as the Lakers (sorry we’re not sorry). So whether you love the Big Apple or just can’t enough of The City of Angels, Oyster wants to know which vacation you would choose: A whirlwind adventure around New York, or a laid-back jaunt across L.A. Take a look at the options below and then enter your answer in the comments section.

Option 1: A whirlwind adventure in New York City

The Waldorf is the most iconic hotel in the Big Apple

New York’s Best: The Waldorf-Astoria is one of the the city’s most iconic institutions, and is nestled right in the heart of bustling Midtown East. The hotel was built in 1931 with Art Deco inspiration and timeless elegance, and has welcomed every US president since FDR. The hotel is so pinky-up classy that it even has an enforced dress-code in the lobby past 6 p.m. But best of all, the Waldorf’s prime location, just a few blocks from Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Center, and the Times Square Theater District, allows for a classic New York experience. Read More »

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Here at Oyster, we pride ourselves on intensively visiting, photographing, and reviewing every single hotel we feature on our site. Our photos are undoctored and honest, but on our travels, we’ve found that the hotel’s marketing photos can be heavily retouched or cropped mysteriously. Our Photo Fakeouts are legendary — just look at the Sexy Lady Phenomenon — and we felt it was only appropriate that as we expand our coverage, we expand our Fakeout repertoire, too. So today, check out our newest find: mood-lighting and just the right angle at the Country Club Lima Hotel makes the pool double in size. See for yourself »

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Ahhhh. Numerous cottages have hammocks for lounging.

Ahhhh. Numerous cottages have hammocks for lounging.

The Bitter End Yacht Club, snuggled into a steep hill on the scenic North Sound, is a relaxed, family-friendly resort. The tech-free rooms (no TVs or Wi-Fi here) feature stunning views from the balconies, and the sliding doors allows breezes to sweep through; some rooms do not have air-conditioning but most guests find they don’t miss it. Rooms are simple but feel up-to-date with bright comforters, sleek bathrooms, and comfy lounge chairs. The white-sand beaches at the hotel may be narrow, but they are still the highlight here, offering plenty of water sports. Families will likely enjoy the calm waters, the small kids’ club, and the outdoor movie theater, while couples can enjoy the gorgeous views and the solid restaurant options. Those looking for a more luxurious stay may want to consider the Biras Creek Resort, but the Bitter End is a great choice for those looking for a more laid-back option with an authentic island vibe. See more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now»

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Trust us, we here at Oyster get it more than most people — going on vacation is freakin’ awesome. Vacations are all about fun, relaxation, and the “what happens here stays here” vibe, and when you’re on a vacay, it feels like nothing can get ya down. But some hotel websites go a little too far and market their properties by showing “guests” in absolutely euphoric (and unrealistic) states. To the point where we’re pretty sure that that kind of happy can only be reached if you’ve been dabbling in some recreational, er, “fun.” And depending on the destination, maybe you have been. But still, when we’re deciding where to stay for our winter getaway, we usually don’t base it on how happy the “guests” on the website seem to be. Nonetheless, those photos can be pretty entertaining so we rounded up some of our favorites — check ‘em out!

1. Happiest Feet on Earth

“We’re on vacation, it’s 6:30 A.M., and the kids are up and full of energy — fabulous! Sleep is overrated.” (Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta)

Photo from the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta website.

Photo from the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta website.

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Hotels are notorious for placing ridiculous price hikes on minibar offerings. That bag of chips that looks so good after a long plane ride becomes a lot less appealing when it comes with a $9 price tag. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From sex toy collections to custom chocolates, hotel minibars are becoming more and more exorbitant every day. Here’s a list of some of the priciest minibar offerings in hotel history. Prepare yourself for some serious sticker-shock!

$400 Pleasure Pack at The Drake Hotel, Toronto

And with peek-a-boo showers, do you really need that $400 pleasure pack?

This funky boutique hotel in Toronto’s newly gentrified Art and Design District is full of unique, modern elements that attract a hip crowd — as does the hot nightclub on-site. But even these riotous visitors might balk at the $400 price tag on one of the hotel’s in-room pleasure packages. The Lap of Luxury set includes a black silk scarf and a 24-karat-gold waterproof vibrator for some serious (and seriously luxurious) sexy time. Batteries are included, so that’s something.

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The Pacific's Edge Restaurant serves gourmet cuisine that rivals these gorgeous views.

The 144-room cliff-side Hyatt Carmel Highlands offers awe-inspiring views unrivaled anywhere else around Monterey and Carmel — some could even argue the entire West Coast. Providing the ultimate in wedding photo backdrops, the stunning views can be seen throughout the property. Spacious accommodations at the resort are handsomely decorated with modern decor. Most feature working fireplaces, patios or balconies, and whirlpools with striking views of the rocky shore. The on-site restaurants serve delicious meals (and provide great reception options), and the outdoor fire pit is a nice spot for relaxing and taking in a healthy dose of sea breeze before the big day.

Weddings at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands make use of the hotel’s breathtaking views and gourmet cuisine. Couples can choose to wed on the hotel’s Gazebo Deck, in the Surf Room, or in the Yankee Point space. The Gazebo Deck is nestled above the jaw-dropping cliffs of Big Sur and can accommodate up to 115 guests on a lovely redwood deck surrounded by lush gardens. The Surf Room features a balcony space and floor-to-ceiling windows so guests can soak in the view from indoors, and the bride doesn’t have to worry about rain ruining her big day. Yankee Point is perfect for smaller weddings, and features a cozy fireplace. An on-site wedding specialist is available to assist couples in choosing a location, arranging discounted rates for guests, and constructing a menu for the reception. The bride and groom will also enjoy a a complimentary guestroom that comes with a chilled bottle of champagne to toast the special occasion. As a bonus, Hyatt will also arrange for couples to enjoy free honeymoon nights at any Hyatt location worldwide. Cheers to that! Check out more wedding-inspired photos of the Hyatt Carmel Highlands here » Read More »

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Hotels and drugs have often gone hand in hand over the years. Whether it’s a drug-crazed freakout à la Charlie Sheen, a tragic celebrity overdose, or a massive drug bust, plenty of drug-related events have taken place under the roofs of some of the country’s finest hotels. In light of the NYPD’s $5 million coke bust at The Crowne Plaza Times Square announced yesterday, we decided to round up the most shocking hotel drug scandals of all time.

Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan

Drug dealers wheeled over 100 pounds of cocaine out of The Cronwe Plaza in rolling suitcases before getting busted.

Drug dealers wheeled over 100 pounds of cocaine out of The Cronwe Plaza in rolling suitcases before getting busted.

Many drug dealers fly under the radar by staying in sketchy motor inns, but some prefer to splurge for something nicer (after all, dealing can be quite the lucrative “profession” so we hear). The upper-middle-range Crowne Plaza is a premier pick in Times Square — and yesterday, the NYPD announced that it was recently the site of a $5 million coke bust. The traffickers attempted to pass as tourists, wheeling the 100-plus pounds of cocaine out of the hotel in rolling suitcases before getting arrested.

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When it comes to cozy winter charm — roaring fires, hot (and strong!) drinks, and snug nooks — it’s hard to top Ireland. Though winter is the off season for the Emerald Isle, it can be a magical time to visit (as anyone who has heard the song Christmas in Killarney can probably understand). Plus, hotels can be dirt cheap this time of year. So sure, it’ll be near-freezing cold, but fortunately these hotel features will warm you right up on your Irish holiday.

Toasty Feature: The Peat-Burning Fireplace

The Bushmills Inn in Antrim keeps peat fires roaring in colder months.

The Bushmills Inn in Antrim keeps peat fires roaring in colder months.

Peat is as Irish as it gets — this bog turf has been burned as fuel for centuries in Ireland, and gives off a distinct smell that some people love.

Find It At: Bushmills Inn, Northern Ireland

The quaint Bushmills Inn in Antrim is quintessentially Irish in every respect: There are fireplaces burning peat or wood throughout the property, a fantastic restaurant serving locally sourced cuisine, Irish music performed certain nights at the Gas Bar, which is lit by traditional gaslight, and 41 cozy, cottage-style rooms. The inn has a rich history dating back to 1608, when a coach house and stables stood here, and the actual main inn building dates to the 1820s; the historic character has been carefully and thoughtfully preserved throughout.

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