This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel.
Traveling can be expensive. After all, hotels, transportation, dining, and sight-seeing add up quickly! But one way to lessen the financial load is to opt for hostels over hotels; these budget-oriented spots have an undeserved bad rap. Sure, they’re usually bare bones when it comes to accommodations, but they often offer a fun, vibrant scene that can really add to a guest’s overall traveling experience. Primarily geared toward young, party-oriented travelers who don’t mind sharing rooms with strangers, hostels can be a great option for a cheap place to crash — that also has a fun atmosphere. We’ve found eight hostels around the world that fit the bill. Expect hopping bars with alcohol flowing, lounges with pool and foosball tables, and guests from all over with whom you can dance and take a shot of Jägermeister.
The Flying Pig Downtown is a friendly, fun-focused Amsterdam hostel. Located on a busy, central shopping street, this hostel is surrounded by many of the city’s nightlife hot spots, while also being a short walk to popular sights and the Red Light district. Private rooms are available in addition to the secure and tidy dorms, and the property is frequented by a mainly backpacking clientele. There is a modern guest kitchen, cozy smoking lounge, and lively bar on-site. One of two Flying Pigs properties in Amsterdam, this (in)famous landmark hostel is unashamedly geared towards the younger party crowd. Housed in an 18th-century townhouse, its bright colorful lobby attracts backpackers and weekend revelers looking for good times with like-minded spirits. Decor is fun and funky in common areas with colorful murals, eclectic furnishings, and a whiff of cannabis. The atmosphere, unsurprisingly, is relaxed and friendly, especially in the cozy, cushion-scattered smoking room. Things liven up in the evening in the busy bar with regular DJ sets.
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Today is the first official day of fall, and while saying goodbye to the summertime is no easy feat…well, we don’t really have a choice. But to be honest, we’re looking forward to the days of football and beer, leaves crunching under our boots, and crackling fireplaces. And nowhere in the country does the fall season better than New England. So whether you’re planning a getaway to Massachusetts or Rhode Island, Vermont or New Hampshire, or Connecticut or Maine, we have a fun fall activity to get you in the seasonal spirit!
Go: Pumpkin Picking in Vermont
New England is replete with pumpkin-picking patches and Vermont has some of the best. While Stowe is often associated with winter skiing, it’s also prime for fall picking. With tons of open space and rolling hills, it is home to numerous farms where visitors can pick apples, pumpkins, and other produce.
Stay: Stowe Mountain Lodge
Stowe Mountain Lodge is one of the top luxury properties in Vermont, and offers rustic elegance throughout — from the impressive lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows to the bright, contemporary rooms. This property has a lot in the way of amenities, particularly for the area: an inviting spa, big outdoor pool with mountain views, acclaimed restaurant, state-of-the-art fitness center, 18-hole golf course, and great children’s program.
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Here at Oyster, we love a good book anytime of year – but there’s something about the fall that encourages us to curl up with a new read. Maybe it’s the shorter days and roaring fireplaces… And since travel and reading often go hand-in-hand (how many times have you gotten through an insanely long layover with a good book?!), we put together a list of worthy titles for your next trip — and paired them with a perfectly suited hotel, of course. Let us know which books you’re loving this fall in the comments section below. Happy reading!
Ms. Dunham’s hotly anticipated collection of personal essays has been tauted by some of the best in the business, including David Sedaris and Judy Blume. Fans of HBO’s Girls are sure to love, and laugh at, Lena’s written take on everything from traveling in Israel to her childhood therapy sessions to dating at a liberal arts college in Ohio. The book is aimed to give Millennials life advice, but readers of all ages will recognize parts of themselves in this occasionally cringeworthy tell-all. The book hits stores on September 30th.
Read it here: Wythe Hotel, New York City
We suggest reading Not That Kind of Girl at the Wythe Hotel in cool-kid mecca Williamsburg for a taste of Girls favorite borough.
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When in Paris, it’s wise to do as the Parisians do – stroll the cobblestone streets, people-watch from sidewalk cafes for hours, and eat way too much bread (even if it is Fashion Week, which kicks off on Tuesday). And it’s also smart to do a little research before you make the trip to ensure that you find the hotel that’s perfectly suited for your fashionista style. Fortunately, we here at Oyster.com do the majority of that work for you. We recently visited a bunch of Parisian hotels, and took tons of photos and notes in order to bring you in-depth reviews and truthful photos so what you see is what you get. Here, we bring you a dozen gorgeous hotels, complete with hundreds of photos and detailed reviews, that are stylish enough for a stay during Paris Fashion Week. Enjoy!
This upscale, 30-room boutique hotel is one of the best choices in Paris, and offers surprisingly competitive rates for the level of luxury. It is named for the founder of the Opera Comique across the street, and the decor blends influences of the 18th century theater with modern trends. Rooms are chic and sport colorful accents, as well as thoughtful amenities such as iPod docks, bathrobes, towel warmers, and flat-screen TVs with free movies. Several metro lines are nearby, and popular sights such as the Louvre are within walking distance. Just note that the (excellent) breakfast buffet is an extra fee, and that the Classic Rooms are quite small.
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We all know that stomach-sinking sensation of showing up to a hotel and finding that it is nothing like we expected. Critters for roommates, chemical plants on the premises (with just “a safe amount of pollution,” the hotel promises), bulletproof glass in reception… When you only get one or two vacations a year, you don’t want to feel like you’re sleeping in a prison. We here at Oyster have encountered some hotels that, are, well, just plain disasters as we’ve traveled the world, taking photos of every nook and cranny. But these 10, they’re the worst of the worst.
It’s a special kind of hotel that earns a reputation for being both disgusting AND dangerous: Within five minutes of entering La Semana, it’s evident that it is both. Not only have there been reports of mentally unstable clientele and gunshots, but the check-in clerk stands behind bulletproof glass, and many rooms’ windows are covered in bars and barbwire, which creates the feeling of entering a prison. The rest is downhill from there: Holes in the (barely six-foot-high) ceilings, no doors on the dirty bathrooms, exposed wires, disgustingly dirty TV remotes, furniture that looks too cheap for a tailgate party, and beds without blankets make this one of the seediest hotel experiences in New York.
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A hotel has “made it” when it’s honored as a Relais & Chateaux property. After all, established in 1954 in France (mais bien sur?!), this exclusive association is made up of just about 500 hotels and restaurants, combined, that introduce guests “to a deeper, truer understanding of the Art of Living.” Or, in much simpler Oyster terms, they show guests a darn good time by providing gorgeous rooms, luxurious facilities and amenities, and top-notch service. We’ve been lucky enough to have stayed in quite a few of these R&C properties (don’t get too jealous — as hotel experts, we also have to stay in spots like this), and here bring you the real creme de la creme of the best of the best.
It makes sense to start in grand Paris, non? With a sweeping private entrance surrounded by green lawns and an impressive fountain, the upscale Saint James is a rare find in Paris — in fact, the 19th century manor is considered the only chateau-hotel in the city. It’s fitting that the hotel is located in the wealthy 16th arrondissement (and yes, valet parking is included). The 48 rooms and suites are large by Paris standards, and decorated in plush luxurious fabrics. But the common areas are more impressive — especially the black and white grand staircase on the main floor. The terrace is a beautiful spot for lunch on a nice summer day. And there’s also a small fitness center, a spa, and a gourmet restaurant. The rates here are steep, but guests who want to experience luxury in Paris (and can afford it) should give the Saint James a look.
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Newsflash! Visiting the world’s most expensive cities doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be forced to stay in the world’s most expensive hotels. Though the suite life can be tempting when hoteling in the globe’s most affluent destinations, what’s feasible for the rich and famous often doesn’t align with what’s feasible for the rest of us. Thankfully, there are fantastic budget options in pricey towns that offer a lot of bang for your buck — so you can use that extra cash towards your eight-euro bottle of water. From London to Singapore and back again, we’ve got the lowdown on hotels that won’t break your bank…in cities that threaten to do just that! Though some cities are even too rich for Oyster’s blood — we’ll get to you soon Lausanne! — here are our top picks for the best budget stays in the world’s most expensive cities.
The Generator Hostel represents a new type of high-end “hostelling” which puts a real emphasis on creating fun, chilled-out atmospheres conducive to interaction between guests. The Generator is one such property and is a good choice for both young solo travelers and groups, offering dorms for up to 12 people as well as private rooms (though some are cramped). The cafe, bar, and cinema room are all great spaces to relax, and the hostel’s event program is a nice touch. There are few properties with as good a central London location that also promise such a snazzy vibe on the cheap in the world’s most expensive city.
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Even if you never took an astronomy class in college, you can still appreciate looking up at the night sky and seeing an infinite number of twinkling stars. Stargazing is often associated with camping or the viewing of once-every-few-months meteor showers, but — with so many stars in the sky — it can really be done whenever…the where is more important. Secluded areas away from the bright lights of the city are best for admiring the flickering sky and searching for constellations, and some hotels in these secluded spots are best suited for stargazing as well. Whether they have their own telescopes on hand or offer stargazing sessions with an astronomer, these 12 hotels provide perfect settings for an evening enjoying the view above.
This renovated guest ranch is Tucson’s oldest resort and one of its most popular. Outdoor activities abound at the upscale property, which offers three saline pools, horseback riding and hiking trails, volleyball, basketball, and eight tennis courts. Big rooms and two highly regarded restaurants at Westward Look Resort overlook the serene mountains and city lights. Nature is everywhere at this property with the various gardens, including a butterfly and hummingbird garden. Another highlight is the telescope on hand, perfect for guests to view the desert night sky. If that’s not enough, travelers can drive about an hour and a half to the Kitt Peak National Observatory; it’s home to the world’s largest collection of optical telescopes and hosts nightly observing programs.
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There’s something so cozy about watching a movie, both solo and with a crew. If you don’t want to hole up in your room with pay-per-view while on vacation, there are many hotels where you can still catch a flick without leaving the property. Some hotels offer movie nights for their guests – whether it’s curled up on a comfy couch indoors or outside lounging by the pool — giving vacationers a chance to unwind in front of a big screen. Many are geared toward little ones so that parents can enjoy some alone time, while others are a chance for travelers to meet and participate in activities together. No matter if you’re away on business or having a family vacation, grab some popcorn, sit back, relax, and watch the show. We definitely give the following 10 hotels two thumbs up!
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. While some rooms could use renovations, guests are here for the white-sand beaches that offer plenty of water sports and relatively calm waters. Although popular among couples, the hotel also caters toward families; each night two movies are screened at The Sand Palace, next to the lobby. The movies are all rated G, PG, or PG-13 and popcorn is provided. Adults may want to send their kids to watch the movie while they enjoy a meal at the Clubhouse Grille next door.
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New York City is a one-of-a-kind town. So it only seems right that your stay in the Big Apple be one-of-a-kind as well. Forget chain hotels with cookie cutter appointments: In NYC, there is a new and exciting hotel waiting to be discovered on nearly every street corner (you just probably haven’t noticed them before). Whether you want to stay in a classic brownstone that doubles as an art gallery, or you prefer a high-design, budget-friendly hostel, New York City has it all — and Oyster has been lucky enough to have seen them all in our travels. Here are a dozen of our favorite unique hotel stays in New York City.
This charming, cozy inn is a hidden gem — quite literally. There is no hotel sign at all, and from the street, the two 19th-century, red-brick townhouses that make up the property could be mistaken for residential homes. And it’s this — coupled with an attention to detail and old-world charm – that sets this quaint boutique hotel apart from the rest of the city’s smaller stays. The Inn at Irving Place‘s 12 rooms have been individually decorated with period antiques and fireplaces, and feature modern amenities, such as flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi. The property lacks most of the amenities of larger hotels, including a fitness center and a full restaurant — but it does offer an elegant tea salon (the famous Lady Mendyll’s), a central location a block from Union Square, and an intimate feel that’s hard to come by in bustling New York City. Read More »