2012 Olympics

If there’s one thing we’ve learned this summer it’s that the Brits are classy. From the Diamond Jubilee to the ongoing Olympic games, it’s clear that Her Royal Majesty recognizes true luxury when she sees it (and isn’t afraid to parachute out of a helicopter, either…but that’s a whole other story). While we all might be wishing our way to London right now, it might be easier – and just as fabulous – to visit some of the Royals’ favorite hotels beyond the British Isles. They can’t take their castles with them when they travel, but Queen Elizabeth II and company do find some of the most elegant, indulgent properties to call home when touring the globe. Just don’t forget to pack your finery when traveling to these hotels – they are, after all, literally fit for a queen.

Home Away From Castle: Half Moon, Jamaica

Half Moon Entrance

Regal Entrance to Half Moon, Jamaica

Since opening in 1954, Jamaica’s Half Moon resort has played host to many a royal, including HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip, HRH The Prince of Wales, and HRH Princess Margaret. This exclusive resort is built on a perfectly shaped crescent beach (hence its celestial name), and is known for its timeless, understated luxury across every nook and cranny of its 400 acres. Classic design, attentive service and quality cuisine are abound – even at the swim-up bar. But what truly sets Half Moon apart from other resorts is its endless breadth of activities. Guests can swim with dolphins in the resort’s private cove, play tennis or golf, windsurf, kayak, choose from a myriad of spa treatments…the list literally goes on for a bit. With so many options (even if HRH chooses only to soak in the Jamaican sun), the island’s status as member of the British Commonwealth, and Half Moon’s dedication to service and taste, it’s no wonder the royals feel right at home here.

Oyster’s Fave Royal Amenity: Half Moon’s Equestrian Center gets it major British brownie points. Polo is as British as tea and crumpets, and at Half Moon the boys (Their Royal Boys?) can work on their form, beach-side.

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All the anticipation accumulated during these last few months before the Games began has given way to a thriving, festive atmosphere in London. Tourists from every corner of the world fill the streets, bars and hotels, and the stores are as full as if it were Christmas. Knightsbridge, Covent Garden and Oxford Street are arguably the top spots in London for high-end shopping, but there’s a whole other world beyond the fashionable boutiques and name-brand clothing. Flea and street markets have been around for decades now and are a popular weekend activity for the young and hip — but since there are so many in London, it can be difficult to find the cool ones. Whether you’re looking for a unique piece of jewelry, a funky T-shirt, or a vintage dress, you’re sure to find it in one of them — check out our favorite markets in London and get ready to spend some pounds!

Shop: The Camden Markets

Camden Stables Market. Credit: JKristoffersson/istockphoto

Camden Stables Market. Credit: JKristoffersson/istockphoto

The Camden Markets are a cluster of adjoining retail markets in Camden Town, northwest of central London. Fixed stores and pop-up stalls offer everything from vintage clothes, to shoes, to music and books. It opens seven days a week, but Saturday and Sunday are the most popular and fun days. The Camden Stables Market is a historic market bursting with vintage clothing, antiques, collectables, and food stalls. The Camden Lock features arts and crafts, jewelry and a wide variety of books. For great fashion items, as well as crafts and food, head to Camden Lock Village. And if what you want to take back home is an assortment of souvenirs, the Iverness Street is the place to go.

 

Sleep: Ambassadors Bloomsbury

Deluxe Room at the Ambassadors Bloomsbury; London, UK

Deluxe Room at the Ambassadors Bloomsbury; London

The 100-room Ambassadors Bloomsbury is located in the historic literary heart of London, a 20-minute walk from the Camden Markets, and near the London Euston tube station, which is two stops from Camden Town. Beyond the convenient location, this hotel also offers bright rooms with crisp white linens and flat-screen TVs. Bathrooms are sleek and modern, and the stylish lobby offers free apples and filtered water. Number Twelve is the popular on-site bar and restaurant, serving three delicious meals a day along with traditional afternoon tea. This hotel offers good value for the location, especially with free Wi-Fi and a small fitness center.

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Are you tuning in to the opening ceremonies?

It may seem like all they do is train, train, and train some more, but Olympians have to sleep at some point. And when they do, they often crash at some of the nicest hotels around the world. We here at Oyster have found out where some of our favorite (and one of our not-so-favorite) Olympians — past and present — have rested their heads when on the road. In honor of the games’ opening ceremony, beginning tonight at 7:30 p.m. EDT on NBC (check your local listings for stations), get inspired by photos of the incredible hotels where Olympians have slept, celebrated, and even thrown a few punches!

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So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that England is kind of a big deal right now. The queen is currently celebrating her Diamond Jubilee (60 years on the throne!) and in July, thousands of the world’s best athletes will descend upon London to fight for glory (a.k.a. the Olympics). It’s enough to have even the most casual Anglophiles among us in a frenzy. Those of us not lucky enough to be visiting England this summer may wonder: How best to celebrate the awesomeness of our parent across the pond? To help, we’ve come up with five oh-so-English traditions that can be enjoyed anywhere — no U.K. citizenship required.

1. Eat English delicacies, such as pigs’ feet

The Breslin at the Ace Hotel, New York City

The Breslin at the Ace Hotel, New York City

Oyster’s pick for where to do it: The Breslin at the Ace Hotel, New York City

The English may not be renowned for their cuisine, but when it’s done well, it’s extremely delicious. British chef April Bloomfield has proved as much, and The Breslin is one of the best places in the States to sample English gastropub fare. On the menu? Pig’s feet with spring vegetables and creme fraiche, seafood sausage with beurre blanc and chives, and a chargrilled lamb burger with cumin mayo and thrice cooked chips (chips means French fries, for those not well-versed in English eating.) Read More »

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There’s a lot happening across the pond this summer. London not only celebrated the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II with Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, but the UK is also gearing up to host the 2012 Olympics, with the opening ceremony kicking things off on July 27. Not everyone can fit into Olympic Park, however, and that includes us here at Oyster. So as much as we’d love to watch Michael Phelps sweep another summer games in the flesh, we’ve decided to show a little patriot pride by visiting our favorite Olympic-inspired stateside destinations. Whether they’re spots where Olympians have once stayed, or have a British air about them that’ll transport you to London, we’d argue that they’re (well, almost) worth missing the games for!

Vacation like a champ at the Olympic Village Inn in Lake Tahoe

http://www.oyster.com/tahoe/hotels/olympic-village-inn/

The Olympic Village Inn in Lake Tahoe

The Olympic Village Inn was home to U.S. Olympians in the 1960s when they underwent training in Squaw Valley for the Winter Games in Rome. At the foothills of a small ski town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the inn has rooms with names such as Chamonix and Kitzbuel — both towns in Europe that have hosted Winter Olympics. The inn offers adventurous guests plenty to do with free bicycle rentals and access to a nearby hiking trail. Read More »

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If you’re London-bound for the 2012 Olympic Games, chances are you’ll get inspired while watching thousands of athletes push their bodies to the max. Sure, you may not be inclined to train for a triathlon in your spare time, but a little run through a historic park sounds nice, right? Or maybe you’d rather skate through the streets of London? Whichever your preference, you can easily get a workout in during your time abroad. And to help you keep it cool, we’ve found all the spots where locals like to break a sweat. Perfecting your British accent, however, is up to you.

The Workout: Run in Hyde Park

The Hyde Park Suite at the Lancaster London

The Hyde Park Suite at the Lancaster London

Originally a deer park for Henry VIII in the 16th century, Hyde Park is a popular spot among visitors and locals. Its numerous memorials and monuments as well as beautiful gardens may make it an ideal park for a stroll, but don’t let the sights distract you from getting in a solid workout: Turn your jaunt into a jog and run along one of the park’s many footpaths. And if you start to feel a bit woozy, don’t fret — a celeb may just come to your rescue! After all, Dustin Hoffman called the paramedics back in May when he saw a runner collapse in the park. Good news: The dude ended up being fine. Better news: He can forever tell the story of the day Dustin Hoffman saved his life.

  • Where to Stay: On the north side of Hyde Park, the 416-room Lancaster is a behemoth compared to most London hotels. Its soaring height means some upper-level rooms have beautiful views of the park.

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