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1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? After the success of Hotel Week NYC, Hotel Week LA is following suit by offering discounted rooms at top luxury hotels in Los Angeles from November 29 to December 14.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Not surprisingly, Orlando came in at the number one spot in a recent report on the top meeting destinations in the U.S.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Alain Ducasse reopened at Paris’ Hotel Plaza Athenee yesterday with a brand-new gourmet prix fixe menu that’s heavy on veggies and seafood — for the bargain price of 300 Euros ($387).

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Chef and nutritionist Cheryl Forberg has teamed up with Omni Hotels to provide guests with a “Healthy Traveler Series” full of tips and tricks for staying healthy while traveling.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? For a short time, the Waldorf Astoria Park City is offering guests the opportunity to explore the surrounding area in a luxury Mercedes-Benz.

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Walk around any college campus at the beginning of a new school year, and you’ll feel the energy and excitement. (Trust us. We walk through Washington Square Park every morning on the way to our Oyster offices.) A new year brings new opportunities; it’s a fresh start and a blank slate, and particularly at the beginning of the school year, it feels like anything is possible — and it is! For all of us working here at Oyster, this optimistic attitude is something we miss about our college years. So, we put our nostalgia to good use and came up with a pretty awesome list of some pretty awesome college towns. Here are 10 college towns that’ll have you thinking about hitting the books once again.

Berkeley, California

UC Berkeley

Photo Credit: John Morgan

Welcome to Berkeley, a place with mere perfect weather that’s teeming with history and culture – and corner coffee shops. It also just so happens to be home to the oldest campus in the University of California system — you guessed it, University of California Berkeley. Whether you’re looking for gourmet vegan dining, a world-renowned theatrical performance, or serious city nightlife (hello, San Francisco), you’ll find it in Berkeley.

Where to Stay: Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel

Visitors to Berkeley might want to stay in nearby San Francisco (only 30 minutes by car) for convenience. Because of its location in a tourist-friendly neighborhood, The Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel is a great option for those exploring the area.

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We love whenever we can get a peek into the lives of the rich and famous, and we find it particularly thrilling to visit the haunts of timeless Hollywood stars and hallowed, storied authors (excuse the pun) of yore. After all, there’s something about the celebs of the past that’s just so much more elegant and refined — even in their infamous debauchery — than those of today’s tabloids. Fortunately, luxurious, historic hotels make it possible to revisit the good ole days, and we find ourselves especially interested in the Mediterranean spots they’d jet off to. So here we bring you five iconic jetsetter getaways in the Mediterranean.

Santa Caterina Hotel, Amalfi Coast

Santa Caterina Hotel

While most of the Amalfi hotels can claim excellent views across the coast, the 66 room-and-suite Santa Caterina Hotel has got five-star features, harmonious antique style, and fragrant gardens. Built against Amalfi’s seaside cliffs in 1880 as a home residence and turned into a hotel in 1904, this luxury property was once a favorite getaway of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and in more recent days, has welcomed celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The Santa Caterina’s four generations of ownership have treated her well, preserving historic elements while successively and successfully adding modern comfort and style.  Guests can take advantage of the wellness center, exclusive swimming pool access, and gym. Dining options range from the elegant Restaurant Santa Caterina to the more casual Al Mare eatery, along with an expansive wine cellar. This property is brand new on Oyster!

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Our team of hotel investigators are stationed all over the world, and every day we have expert photographers and reviewers visiting (and revisiting) properties. But often all you get to see is the final product — our comprehensive hotel reviews paired with hundreds of accurate, honest photos. Well, those reviews and photos are certainly helpful when planning a trip, but we figured it might be kind of fun for you to see just how we get to that end result. So we’ve decided to bring you along on our trip to Las Vegas, where we’ve been checking out the scene since Wednesday. We’ve visited pool parties and we’ve dined on some delicious eats and we’ve shared it all on Instagram, so be sure to check it out! But we’re most excited to share our pics and opinions of the brand-new Delano hotel. We were a little confused and thrown off that entry was through the parking garage, but otherwise we’ve been quite impressed! Let’s start at the beginning…

Delano 13

  This sleek, new property skips the gaudy, colorful look Vegas is known for and instead opts for stylish, desert-inspired decor. The lobby and hallways are decked out with “boulders” and interesting wooden structures and hanging sculptures.

See more amazing pics after the jump>>

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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.

La Semana Hotel, New York City

La Semana

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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 Jacob Tomsky is a hotel expert, but don’t ask him for advice on where to stay the night. Sure, he’s spent 10 years in hotels — but most of that time was racked up behind the front desk. He saw plenty from that vantage point, though, and in 2013, he published his laugh-out-loud memoir, Heads in Beds, which many have compared to Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. Through the memoir, readers get a glimpse into the inner workings of a luxury hotel…and some of the late-night antics Tomsky witnessed – plus tips and tricks for scoring free minibar snacks and upgrades, and just how much to tip the bellman. Today, he’s busy working on the follow-up to his New York Times bestselling book. We caught up with the author in the lobby of the Trump SoHo New York to get his take on hotel reviews, robot bellmen (why not?), and more.

Get all his insider deets after the jump >>

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Let’s play a game of “would you rather.” Would you rather stay in a cute boutique in Istanbul or a dated (but canal-side) hotel in Venice? A historic country estate in Ireland or a stylish, woodsy hotel on the fjords in Norway? Everyone’s preferences are different, but one thing is for sure: Not every destination around the globe will deliver the same level of accommodations for your travel dollar. That’s why we decided to launch a new series to expose just how much bang for your buck you’re actually getting on your trip.  It may change your mind about where to go next…and you may even find yourself packing your bags for somewhere unexpected — but totally awesome, and affordable! This week, we’re taking a look at what you can get in cities across Europe. The price: $250/night. The dates: October 10th through 17th. And we’re off!

Which hotel would you choose? VOTE ON FACEBOOK or let us know in the comments section below!

Hotel Indigo London Kensington – Earl’s Court: $237/night

Hotel Indigo London Kensington

This is one of the trendiest Indigo properties anywhere, with bold, stylish decor and a quirky theme that’s inspired by Victorian manor houses (which this hotel once was) and French boudoir style. Each floor is themed after a different color (think: lime, teal, or fuchsia), and the hallways are lined with portraits of Lordships and Ladyships. There’s not a lot to dislike, although the hotel’s address isn’t the major selling point — the location on the west edge of Kensington is accessible (via the nearby Earl’s Court tube station), but there’s not a lot within walking distance.

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We have travel experts visiting and revisiting destinations around the world every day, and we love when the fresh photos of gorgeous locales start to roll into our offices. Now that fall is approaching (we know, we hate to bring it up – but Labor Day coming and going kinda already did), we’re getting particularly excited about tree-filled spots and landscapes chock-a-block with hills and fields…and few places in the world do that better than the Irish countryside. Fewer places still do that better than these gorgeous hotels nestled away in the Irish country. So without further adieu, we bring you eight of the most beautiful hotels in the Irish countryside — and many of them are brand-new on Oyster!

Lawcus Farm Guest House, Kilkenny

lawcus farm

This rustic property is a solid pick for those travelers who want a slice of traditional pastoral Ireland. The emphasis is squarely on a homey, farmhouse vibe with turf-burning fires and friendly hosts offering a personal touch. The rustic charm carries over into the rooms, some of which have pretty views of the surrounding countryside. The grounds are a real high point and guests can experience the property to the fullest through outdoor activities that include fishing on the river and feeding the farmyard animals. There’s little else quite like it in the area, and prices are pretty reasonable for this level of cozy comfort.

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Wow! When we asked our fans on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to submit their best beach photos this summer with the hashtag #OysterPics, we had no idea how envious we’d get of everyone’s beach getaways! But we loved looking through the hundreds of submissions: Beach shots taken from Cape Cod to Jamaica at beautiful resorts and hotels gave us some intense wanderlust. And now we’re passing that wanderlust on to you. (Sorry, it’s highly contagious.) Here are our favorite submissions. See your pic? Congrats! Stayed tuned for our next #OysterPics series, which might have a little something to do with the soon-to-be changing leaves…

cabo villas

Okay, okay, we’re a little biased…but we had to get in on the action too! And we love this pic from our visit to the Cabo Villas Beach Resort and Spa.

See our users’ best beach pics after the jump >>

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the hotelIt’s been a tough couple of years for Atlantic City, thanks in no small part to the destruction Hurricane Sandy left in its wake. So as hotel experts who, like, really, love hotels, today is a sad day as the just-over-two-years-old Revel officially closed its casino doors this morning after shuttering the hotel on Monday evening. The casino resort is one of three AC hotels to fold in just a two-week period; Showboat closed on Sunday and the Trump Plaza is scheduled to close on September 16. But let’s reflect on happier times, shall we? Like when Kanye announced that now-wife Kim Kardashian was pregnant during a concert at the resort. Or when Michelle Obama attended a Beyonce performance there. Or when our hotel expert got to nosh on these delicious fish tacos during her stay! We hate to use a pun, but we guess Revel just never got to experience beginner’s luck.

Take a walk down memory lane after the jump with pretty pics of this doomed property >>

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