Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 12.13.50 PM

We hate to toot our own horn (or do we?), but we here at Oyster are kinda famous for our photo fakeouts. Basically, we put the photos that we took at hotels in person next to the hotels’ marketing photos to see if they line up. Well, spoiler alert: They often don’t. Whether it’s some sneaky cropping, over-the-top staging, or serious editing, marketing photos frequently make properties appear way more luxe (or modern or serene) than they actually are. During our travels we’ve found plenty of hotels guilty of a little marketing magic, and our latest round of fakeouts is no exception. Click through here to see some major fakeouts!

{ 0 comments }

An old fable tells the tale of the city mouse and the country mouse (or the city oyster and the country oyster in our case — we know, it’s a bit of a stretch). The story ends with a precautionary warning: cities are crowded, dangerous, and unsavory. But, here at Oyster, we’ve never met a city we didn’t like! Though they may be a bit busier than the countryside, cities are hubs of history, culture, and entertainment. So we suggest you leave the quiet country behind and give the city a whirl. Here are eight megacities (cities with populations of over 10 million people) we can’t get enough of.

New York

new york

Some call it the Big Apple, others the “City That Never Sleeps,” but no matter its name, New York is truly one of the greatest cities in the world. With a population of nearly 24 million people, New York’s magnitude may at first seem daunting, but this city’s crowds are part of its splendor. The large population is incredibly diverse, which means visitors have access to every type of restaurant, bar, and entertainment venue imaginable. Amongst innumerable, unique neighborhoods, visitors will discover iconic skyscrapers, world class museums, fantastic shopping, and all around vibrancy.

Where to Stay: Mandarin Oriental, New York

The Mandarin Oriental is located just across the street from the lively Columbus Circle. With decadent, yet sleek ,decor and sweeping views of Central Park, the Mandarin Oriental is a wise choice for guests seeking a more modern twist on classic upscale choices like The Plaza or The Pierre.

______________________________________________

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Honeymoons, anniversaries, or just weekends away can be made all the more romantic with a bottle of champagne for drinking and a hot tub for soaking. But it can kinda kill the mood if you have to share the whirlpool with other hotel guests, or if it’s nestled up alongside a pool teeming with splashing tots. That’s why we’ve found some hotels that offer private whirlpools — either in luxurious bathrooms or on lovely wooden decks — in various room types so your jetted bath time won’t be disturbed. Here are our 11 favorites — we just couldn’t narrow it down to 10.

The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui

Fairmont Kea Lani Maui

Wailea’s aptly named Fairmont Kea Lani is a “white heaven” indeed — its 450 units sit on a 22-acre beachfront property that includes four pools, four restaurants and one lounge, access to world-class golf, some of Maui’s largest rooms, and a relentless dedication to service that rivals the nearby Four Seasons. The Two Bedroom Villa pictured above is definitely for deep-pocketed patrons that want a romantic getaway. The spacious villa has a separate living and dining room area, but its most alluring feature is the terrace with a private jetted pool and gorgeous views of the water.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

It’s hard to pick just one spot to visit in Southern Italy. After all, it seems that every corner of the region is rife with beautiful scenery, architecture, and attractions. But if you’re just in the area for a quick trip, it’s worth starting your time in Sorrento. A laid-back, seaside town set on a cliff, Sorrento is surrounded by some of Italy’s more popular tourist destinations – Naples and Pompeii to the north; the island of Capri just offshore; Positano and the famed Amalfi Coast to the east. With a large selection of hotels and easy transportation options, it’s the perfect home base for a southern Italian vacation. Aside from being a gateway to other areas, Sorrento is also a lovely place to stay. Scented by lemon groves and offering stunning views of the Bay of Naples, its Old World charm remains intact, with a maze of beautiful, cobbled backstreets and an assortment of quaint shops. Here are six of our favorite Sorrento hotels.

Grand Hotel Royal

Grand Hotel Royal. Sorrento, Italy

Grand Hotel Royal. Sorrento, Italy

Grand Hotel Royal is set dramatically above the Bay of Naples, with floor-to-ceiling windows that open out onto the well-manicured garden and pool overlooking the bay. It’s only a short walk from Piazza Tasso, popularly considered the center of Sorrento’s old town, and the area’s train station is also a few minutes walk away. There’s frequent service heading towards Naples, with stops at stations that offer access to the Herculaneum and Pompeii. The ferry station with service to Capri is close by the hotel as well.

___________________________________________________

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Whether you’re a total pro or a complete amateur, there’s nothing quite like the rush of surfing. And for us here at Oyster, there’s nothing quite like the rush of finding the perfect hotel either. So we’ve combined these two awesome feelings to come up with nine amazing surf destinations…and some pretty great hotels to go with ‘em.

Honolulu

Sunset-Surfing-in-Waikiki-Oahu-Hawaii

World famous Waikiki Beach is the perfect place to catch a wave. You won’t be alone, however, as this sandy stretch receives more than four millions visitors every year. Waikiki abounds with surf shops and instructors, making it easy for pros to brush up on their skills and first timers to learn the tricks of the trade.

Where to Stay: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa

When it opened its doors in 1901, the Moana Surfrider was Waikiki’s first hotel. Now that it shares the spotlight with a multitude of others, guests will appreciate Moana’s old-world ambiance. Though the hotel is often packed with people, it sits on one of the nicest stretches of Waikiki Beach, perfect for surfers and non-surfers alike.

______________________________________________

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Forget rusty aluminum chairs and fraying towels — these top hotels cabanas only come equipped with first-rate finds. Here’s a roundup of our favorite poolside bungalows designed for discerning loungers: Picture plush seating, shade, salty ocean air, and fancy extras, all right by the pool so you can take a dip whenever you please. These 10 cozy nooks also dazzle with high-tech features and jaw dropping views.

Viceroy Anguilla

main-pool--v1911120-54-1024

Offering the ultimate in poolside luxury, Viceroy Anguilla provides guests with their own private poolside oasis. Cabanas come with sofa beds, lounge chairs, and gourmet treats. After all, opened in 2009, the Viceroy is the most modern property on this tiny island — and arguably the most luxurious. The Kelly Wearstler-designed resort manages to mix an upscale look with a laid-back, beachy feel, and features sleek lines, modern amenities, numerous art installations, earth tones, animal prints, and wood, stone, and gold accents throughout.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

We’re always looking for an excuse to go on vacation, and thanks in large part to pregnant celebrities, “babymoons” are becoming a very real thing. Basically considered a rite of passage — much like a honeymoon or an anniversary getaway — babymoons are trips that couples take when expecting, and they usually involve plenty of time for relaxing on the beach, in the spa, and by the pool while sipping (virgin) cocktails. Most celebs make for the Caribbean to celebrate their incoming spawn, but some also stay stateside and even go somewhere their little nugget might eventually enjoy. (Holly Madison took her bump to Disney!) So if you’ve got a baby on board (or not!), here are six celebrity-approved babymoon hotels. And if you know anything about celebrities, you know these spots are downright gorgeous.

The Hotel: Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia

Jade Mountain

The Celebrity: Vanessa Lachey

Just last week, Vanessa announced that she and husband Nick Lachey are expecting baby number two — a sweet little girl to join older brother Camden. We wouldn’t be surprised if the duo celebrates the news by returning to Jade Mountain, where they escaped for their first babymoon back in 2012. Getting to the secluded St. Lucia resort can be tedious – especially for a pregnant person – but its organic cuisine doting service, unwavering silence (no TVs, radios, or children — sorry, Camden!), and extraordinary design (which means breathtaking views) make the long journey worthwhile.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Remember how exciting it was to go on school trips to the aquarium? Getting an up-close look at marine life – from tiger sharks to stingrays – was always an enchanting experience. Well it turns out aquariums are a fun sight at any age… and they certainly add a tropical, under-the-sea vibe to otherwise bland spaces. That’s why it’s no surprise that a good number of the hotels we have visited have installed fish tanks to add a cool oceanic feature for kids and adults to enjoy without having to suit up. Several of these hotels have gone above and beyond in bringing the awe factor to their aquariums. In typical grandeur Vegas fashion, three of its properties made our list, but you’ll want to visit all seven spots!

Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

Mandalay

The giant, 3,215-room Mandalay Bay offers a wave pool and streaming lazy river pool for kids, as well as a quality spa, lively bar,s and premier cuisine for adults. But everyone can enjoy the 1.6-million-gallon Shark Reef Aquarium with about 2,000 sea creatures on display, including 15 different kinds of sharks. In one of the exhibits, visitors can experience an almost 360-degree view of the fish and sharks swimming about; another displays the bright jellyfish. If just looking isn’t good enough, there’s a popular Touch Pool, where guests can touch sharks, rays, and horseshoe crabs.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

We’ve been spending our summer in Italy. Tough, we know. And we’ve visited some pretty amazing hotels during our stay. We’ve toured gorgeous palazzos, stepped into rustic farmhouses, and perused canal-side properties. But some of our favorite hotels have been those tucked into the hills of the Italian countryside, where natural thermal baths are considered standard. (But, with calming waters, soothing temperatures, and beautiful surroundings, are anything but.) Here we bring you three totally romantic Italian escapes — made all the more romantic with sexy thermal springs for an utterly relaxing, rejuvenating vacation.

Hotel Saturno Fonte Pura

Hotel Saturno 1

An intimate, family-like atmosphere pervades this hotel and spa in the Tuscan countryside. The 25 rooms are laid out around well-kept grounds, and the conscientiously maintained outdoor pools are sourced from the hotel’s private spring, one of Saturnia’s famous naturally occurring thermal waters. These two thermal pools are the hotel’s main attraction, and are kept at their naturally occurring temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). A hot tub and a full menu of spa services round out the options; many guests have claimed that, since the owner changes the pool waters daily, the facilities are the cleanest in town. Other perks include the excellent restaurant, which serves local fare in a country-style dining room, the lovely grounds, and the sweeping views of the countryside. 

Hotel Saturno 2

Hotel Saturno 3

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Many hotels that we visit are housed in brand-spanking-new buildings, erected in recent years for the sole purpose of being the site of that “just opened” Marriott or Four Seasons. But some properties, recently opened ones and historic ones alike, instead reinvent old spaces to create the hotels that visitors call home during their vacations. And some of these old buildings have quite the story to tell! From prisons to plantations, the 10 hotels on this list were once the sites of quite different operations, and all have storied – whether eerie or interesting or just downright weird – pasts.

 Liberty Hotel, Boston

Liberty Hotel

For nearly 150 years, this tall granite building was known as the Charles Street Jail and housed some of Boston’s most heinous criminals. In 2007, after a painstaking restoration that preserved elements of the prison design, it reopened as the Liberty Hotel. The result is stunning, with nearly 300 rooms, a 90-foot-tall atrium, winding catwalks, and high, circular windows that flood the lobby with light. The hotel’s popular restaurants and bars play on the jailhouse theme with names like Alibi, Clink, and The Yard.

____________________________________________________

Read More »

{ 0 comments }