June 2014

Some may turn up their noses at America’s “unrefined” grub, and others may stare in horrified shock at our portion sizes (which is understandable) and our tendency to fry everything (also understandable). But our great U.S. of A is home to some pretty great eats — many of which you’ll likely chow down on this holiday weekend. So here we bring you eight quintessentially American dishes in seven amazing American cities (because, after all, New York does both bagels and pizza better than any other destination we know).

Lobster Roll, Nantucket

lobster roll

Lobster rolls are about as “New England summertime” as you can get, and though destinations like Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and the Hamptons all claim to do them better than the rest, we crown Nantucket the winner. Almost every restaurant on the island offers their signature variation of a lobster roll, but Millie’s — with a restaurant and a food truck — is known to serve up one of the best.

Where to Stay: Jared Coffin House

One of the oldest inns on the island, Jared Coffin House gives travelers a taste of Nantucket history and classic New England style. Some of the rooms and bathrooms are small, but all combine antique-style furnishings with modern features, such as flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. The inn, open year-round and centrally located near the downtown area, also features the elegant and popular Nantucket Prime restaurant; the menu not only features a lobster roll (either hot with butter, or cold with mayo), but also a delicious half lobster from its raw bar.

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Hyatt members received excellent news this month: The Park Hyatt has opened its first ever hotel in Vienna, Austria. The luxe brand has taken up headquarters in Vienna’s First District, a quiet part of the bustling European city that’s focused less on tourism and more on history and shopping (so, not surprisingly, tourists are nonetheless focused on it). The First District is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the hotel itself is housed in a 100-year-old bank building overlooking Am Hof square. The hotel is elegant and impossibly grand, even when taking Vienna’s high standards into consideration. Read on after the jump >>

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Throughout our travels we’ve seen over-the-top luxurious rooms, themed rooms, massive rooms, just plain weird rooms, and everything in between. But for some rooms that we’ve gotten the chance to explore, there’s no better way to describe them than just, well, cool. Whether they’re located in caves or decked out in all-over orange (you’ll understand in a minute), these ten picks are some of the coolest hotel rooms in the world.

1. The Suite of Orange at Hotel Estherea, Amsterdam

 Hotel Estherea

Hotel Estherea takes a maximalist approach to its interior design, and treads the fine line between plush extravagance and gaudiness with aplomb. This is particularly apparent in the lavish Suite of Orange, which lives up to its name; decked out in various shades of orange with plenty of mahogany touches, it features a gorgeous chandelier and high-tech amenities such as massive flat-screen TVs and iPads upon request. The hotel’s location on the Singel canal is picturesque, and well positioned for exploring Amsterdam‘s attractions.

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The 4th of July falls on a Friday this year, so it’s the perfect excuse to turn the holiday into an extended weekend vacay! We’ve honed in on some cities that are fun to visit at just about any time of year, but if your trip falls over the long weekend, it’ll be amped up by fireworks, festivals, and fabulous food as these destinations get in gear to celebrate the red, white, and blue. These six cities pull out all the stops and bring you great entertainment, including free concerts by artists that would normally cost a pretty penny to see in your local arena — but in the spirit of patriotism and community, they’re free! Round up your crew because it’s time for a road trip.

Atlanta Lights Up in the Laser Show Spectacular

stone mountain

Photo Credit: Stone Mountain Park

There are 4th of July celebrations going on all over Atlanta next weekend, including festivities at Lenox Square Mall and a fireworks display at Centennial Olympic Park. However, Stone Mountain Park offers the ultimate display with a combination laser and fireworks show. Make sure you get to the park super early and enjoy a day with attractions such as Sky Hike and the 3-D/4-D show “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.”

Where to Stay: Loews Atlanta Hotel

The 414-room Loews Atlanta brings style and luxury to Midtown. Rooms are bright with floor-to-ceiling windows, and spacious bathrooms have soaking tubs and TVs. Upscale amenities include a modern spa and fitness center, along with a swanky cocktail bar in the lobby. Convenient dining options range from an innovative restaurant to a gourmet snack bar, but many restaurants and bars are in walking distance as well. Wi-Fi is available for a fee and parking is pricey, although free transportation is on offer within a three-mile radius in a stylish Mercedes GL450.

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Patriotic fever is in full swing; and luckily, at hotels across the country, guests don’t have to miss out on the action. In fact, the red-white-and-blue festivities can come right to them! The six hotels we’ve selected as the most patriotic of them all have a special love for Old Glory — and want to celebrate just as much as you do. From decking out their digs in American Flags galore, to elaborate 4th of July annual BBQs, to offering up a front row seat for viewing the best fireworks in the country — these hotels get our vote as some of the nation’s top spots to celebrate.

The Jefferson, Washington DC

This Washington D.C. hotel scores bragging rights when it comes to its patriotic roots. The hotel is named after Declaration-drafter Thomas Jefferson and offers holiday packages that even John Hancock would sign off on. Guests can jumpstart their morning with coffee – and a chat with the in-house historian — before perusing the hotel’s collection of Jefferson autographed documents. Guests can then enjoy a self-guided tour of Jeffersonian statues around the city. The hotel “We Salute You” package also offers great military discounts.

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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

We here at Oyster.com have done all types of travel. We’ve trekked to some pretty far-off places, we’ve slept under the stars, and we’ve pinched pennies at some budget (but nonetheless awesome) locales. But we gotta say, our favorite kind of travel is luxury travel. Of course, there’s something to be said for roughing it and that whole getting-back-in-touch-with-nature thing, but given the choice between a tent and a massive presidential suite? Um, we’ll take the suite any day — without hesitation. Suites vary from hotel to hotel, and from destination to destination, but throughout our extensive travels we have come across a handful (fourteen, to be exact) of gorgeous, over-the-top hotel suites that are so luxurious, they’re quite literally mind-blowing. From a Vegas suite with its own pool and mini-golf course to a gigantic “Sultan Suite” overlooking the Bosphorus in Istanbul, these fourteen suites take luxury to the next level.

1. The Royal Bridal Suite at The Toren, Amsterdam

The Toren

This romantic boutique hotel near the Anne Frank House has historical significance: It was once used as a safe house in WWII. The Toren family bought the property in 1968 and expanded it over time to include additional accommodations along the Keizersgracht canal. Today there are 38 rooms and suites ranging from smaller standard size, to spacious, elaborate options like the Royal Bridal Suite. This over-the-top, dual-level suite promises romance and opulence; it sits in a second building, removed from the main house, for added privacy and features rich decor (such as gorgeous antique furniture, chandeliers, and murals), a fireplace, a deep soaking tub, and a private entrance with a patio.

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The beauty of reading a good book is that it transports you to a whole different world — without ever costing you a penny. Whether James Joyce guides you through Dublin or Hemingway fixes you a drink from his home in Key West, literature opens pathways to other dimensions that never require a passport. But sometimes the imagination needs a dose of reality to fully grasp the whole picture. Other times, an author’s words so imbue a reader’s mind, he or she cannot help but pack up bags to experience the same sights, sounds, and smells that gave birth to a favorite novel. Poets, novelists, and playwrights give us a little bit of their world on every page — and now it’s our chance to take a bit more for ourselves. The best destinations for book lovers are enumerable: Every person has a favorite author, and every author has a different world view. But there are some spots around the globe that possess just a bit more of a literary spark than others. So pack your bags — and your favorite paperback — because we’re going on a trip perfect for any bookworm.

1. Dublin, Ireland 

dublin

The Irish have a reputation for storytelling, and with good reason. A UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin the home of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, and countless other prominent literary figures — and you can visit several of their homes during your visit. At Trinity College, visitors can take a look at one of the most famous books in the world, The Book of Kells, dating back to 800 A.D. And, once night comes, be sure to take part in the Literary Pub Crawl that takes you to some of the city’s best pubs with an acting troupe in tow portraying some of your favorite scenes from Irish literature. The James Joyce Museum, the Dublin Writers Museum, the Chester Beatty Library, and the Long Room at Trinity College are among other popular literary sites.

Stay: Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa

The Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa is located about half an hour northwest of Dublin’s city center. The historic property — an 18th-century castle turned Georgian house, turned convent, turned hotel — sits on beautiful green grounds, making it a popular spot for weddings and events. The location allows visitors to see more of the country that inspired Ireland’s great writers, and with a library, restaurant, three bars, and several golf courses nearby, there is plenty to keep guests entertained. Read More »

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Oftentimes a movie, TV show, or music video can suck you in with its gorgeous sets and shooting locations. They can feel so real, you  just wish you could be there. Well, you probably can’t live the fictional lives portrayed on the big and small screen (and sometimes, you probably don’t wan t to), but you can catch a bit of the magic with a visit to the set locations. We’ve found some real-life places that set the scene for some of our favorite on-screen moments.

Mad Men Goes For Drinks at P.J. Clarke’s in New York City

New York City, 1 Aug 08

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Mad Men is an amazing show for many reasons, including it’s incredibly detailed portrayal of the 1960s in New York City. When Peggy gets promoted to a copywriter position, she invites everyone for a round of drinks at P.J. Clarke’s. This landmark New York pub has been around since the 1800s and it is still a popular after-work spot. Back in the day, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra were frequent patrons.

Where to stay: The Waldorf Towers

The Waldorf Towers occupies the top floors of the iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel in Midtown East. It is an exclusive boutique with 117 classic, individually decorated rooms, some of which have a rich history of famous guests and long-term residents. Most amenities are shared with its sister property — including the great (but pricey) restaurants, high-end Guerlain Spa, and beauty salon — but the hotel has its own lobby, fitness center, elevators, and concierges.

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It’s a dream vacation: Staying in an Italian farmhouse amid Tuscany’s rolling hills or Campania’s stunning plateaus, surrounded by rows of olive trees and sunflower blossoms. Italy was one of the first countries to successfully promote the agriturismo phenomenon, in which vacationers stay in a working farmhouse to truly immerse themselves in the culture and natural beauty of the nation. The results have been spectacular. Charmingly rustic resorts call to couples, families, and friends looking to explore Italy beyond its bustling cities. Discover seven of Oyster’s favorite farmhouses here.

1. Ripa Relais, Umbria 

ripa

This farmhouse resort is nestled in the Umbrian countryside on the slopes of Ripa’s ancient castle. The resort has 16 elegant rooms arrayed in three of four buildings, surrounded by landscaped gardens, cobblestone paths, and cypress and olive trees. An outdoor pool offers views of the surrounding fields, and the on-site restaurant, set in a former church, serves Umbrian and Tuscan cuisine. A stay here means utter relaxation in a rural environment. It’s a 20-minute drive to Perugia and Assisi.

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There’s cozy and then there’s spooky. And when it comes to the cavernous spaces of some of our favorite hotels, we’ll just have to let you be the judge. The dark corners and vaulted ceilings of these lair-like rooms often simply add a little extra oomph to the sultry ambiance of a romantic restaurant or a sexy spa, but we still can’t help but get a little spooked in these windowless spots. Here are six hotels that are home to some pretty cool (and kinda creepy?) caves.

Grotto Bay Beach Resort, Bermuda

Grotto Bay Beach

Bermuda’s Grotto Bay Beach Resort is home to the mother of all caves. Natural grottos can be found on the property, and weekly cave crawls explore the grottos’ vast nooks and crannies. Guests are free to swim and snorkel on their own, but if the idea of this makes you a bit tense, have no fear — the spa’s sole treatment room can be found in the subterranean space. The hotel’s private beach is also available for swimming and water sports.

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