Amsterdam

Europe is a popular destination year-round, and it becomes all the more popular as the temperatures rise and students and families opt to travel abroad during their spring and summer vacations. Those who have an extended amount of time off (and, of course, the cash to afford it) can visit numerous cities during one trip, but others with limited time and funds must decide upon one location — which can be a tricky feat. So we’ve come up with an expert guide for how to spend six months in Europe; whether you can take half a year and explore a handful of cities, or you have just a weekend in which to get away, we’ll tell you the best European destination for each month — starting right now with February!

February in Venice

venice-gondolas-canal-grande-v1787013-1600

Venice’s Carnival is one of the most famous festivals in the world, and every February locals and tourists crowd the streets of the city to let loose before Lent begins. This year the celebration kicks off on February 15th and runs for two and a half weeks; parades, contests, special exhibits, and ceremonies take place along the Grand Canal.

Where to Stay: Hotel Al Sole

This boutique hotel may have simple — verging on bland — rooms, but canal views, a charming courtyard, and a great location — the hotel is housed in a 15th-century mansion within walking distance of numerous sights — make Hotel Al Sole a solid pick.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Sometimes spa treatments tip over the edge of relaxing and enter the realm of downright strange. From fish pedicures to snow rooms, hotels around the globe are offering unique (and kinda weird) options for guests to indulge in. Some might swear by these alternative services, others may be skeptical — but we at Oyster will try (almost) anything once! Here, we’ve rounded up the craziest spa services we’ve come across during our travels. Take a look and prepare to get pampered in a whole new way!

The Treatment: Sparience Oxygen Bubble

The Spa Hotel: Gran Hotel La Florida, Barcelona 

The Sparience Oyxgen Bubble experience is stress-reducing.

At the Zen Zone Spa in Barcelona, guests can try out the Sparience Oyxgen Bubble. Meant to relieve stress and minimize injury recovery time, these bubbles are filled with 99.5 percent pure oxygen, which should induce intense mental and physical relaxation. The sculpted AlphaSphere bed combines color, shape, and light with sound, vibrations, and warmth to increase the effects of the treatment. It all sounds well and good, but doesn’t it remind you a bit of this John Travolta classic? Read More »

{ 1 comment }

The term “hipster” has a lot of connotations these days, but we think we have a pretty good idea of what it means when it comes to travel. If you’re a hipster, you’re probably the type who won’t want to stay somewhere mainstream — and certainly not a major chain. You’re the type who appreciates what’s cool, yes, but in a way that is interesting and different. You love anything eco-friendly and organic.

Sound at all familiar? Fess up. We at Oyster have a special spot in our heart for hipster travelers. After all, they, like us, have high standards when it comes to choosing a hotel. They’ll often gravitate toward spots that are uber-trendy, quirky, or extremely green, and with that in mind, we unearthed some of the best hotel options in the world for the hipster set.

Wythe Hotel, New York City

Wythe Hotel, New York City

Wythe Hotel, New York City

The Wythe Hotel is a hub for hipster travelers and locals alike. With a hopping rooftop bar boasting jaw-dropping views of Manhattan, a wonderful restaurant, and cutting-edge industrial design, the Wythe is a destination unto itself. It’s located near the subway as well as dozens of restaurants, bars, and shops in the heart of trendy Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a neighborhood boasting one of the highest concentrations of hipsters in the country. Rooms are spacious and have high pine ceilings, reclaimed wood furnishings, and great amenities, including flat-screen TVs; local, hand-made toiletries; free Wi-Fi, and radiant floor heating. Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Thanks to our friends at the Captivate Network, you can catch this story in your office elevator this week! And don’t miss Captivate’s Summer Fridays Sweepstakes!

Planning a European getaway this summer? These cities are some of our top picks for the summer months. Whether you’d rather chill on Barcelona’s beaches or explore Rome’s many outdoor ruins, warm weather makes all the difference in these spots.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is one of Europe’s most vibrant cities, with hopping nightlife, excellent cuisine, and beautiful Gothic and Modernist architecture. But it also has a prime location on the Mediterranean sea, with beaches such as La Barceloneta accessible right in the city limits — making this a popular summertime travel pick.

  • Oyster’s Pick for Where to Stay: Ohla Hotel, for its stunning rooftop pool, great for a summertime dip Read More »

{ 0 comments }

The term “boutique hotel” can be applied to a host of very different properties — whether quaint or trendy, traditional or avant-garde. But they all have at least one thing in common: They’re intimate, and fewer rooms means fewer guests get to experience them, so staying at one can feel like discovering a secret hideaway. But secrets are no fun if you don’t get share them — so we’re spilling the beans on 11 of our favorite boutiques across Europe.

Draycott Hotel, London

Draycott Hotel, London

Draycott Hotel, London

This 35-room combo of Edwardian townhouses is warm and intimate with a country home feel, and in a great location for exclusive West End shopping. With wonderful boutique perks such as the free English afternoon tea (guests at other hotels will have to pay at least a £15 premium to enjoy such a tradition), free pre-dinner champagne, and free hot chocolate before bed, it’s hard to find much at the Draycott to complain about. Unless, of course, your priorities are a pool and fitness center, both of which the hotel lacks. Read More »

{ 1 comment }

Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam

Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam

Amsterdam may be famous for its red light district and its friendly stance on marijuana, but the capital of the Netherlands has much more to offer. A city steeped in history, Amsterdam is home to beautiful historic buildings, numerous parks, fields of tulips that bloom in the spring, about 40 museums, and a system of canals and bridges that rivals (and in fact, is larger than) the one in Venice. Many of the city’s hotels give visitors a taste of the city’s rich past, such as properties housed in former monasteries or former schools.

{ 0 comments }

Lobby at the Sofitel Buenos Aires; Buenos Aires, Argentina

Lobby at the Sofitel Buenos Aires; Buenos Aires, Argentina

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Karl Lagerfeld has signed a contract with Sofitel Hotels to design all of the rooms at the Sofitel Buenos Aires, the restaurants at Sofitel Legend the Grand Amsterdam, and the lobby at the Sofitel Los Angeles.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Plaza Athenee Paris recently celebrated its 50th birthday with a cake five meters long.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Fancy a free five-night stay at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino (or any of the oMarriott resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico)? The chain is offering the giveaway to their Facebook and Pinterest fans.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Eurostars Grand Marina Hotel in Barcelona will undergo massive renovations, lasting through late 2014, to become the world’s first “space hotel.” It will include a zero-gravity spa and panoramic impressions of the universe.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Hotel Palomar Dallas’s new “Travel Lite” fitness package includes a one-hour morning run with the hotel manager.

Check out the answers after the jump!

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

It's a pink explosion in the Barbie Suite at the Palms!

Hotels often incorporate themes into their rooms, but these so-called themes are usually “classic elegance,” “boho chic,” or “understated luxury.” In the case of the rooms in this slideshow, however, the themes are a bit more specific — and over-the-top. From a suite that Barbie would approve of, to a room dedicated to David Beckham (and, in particular, his abs), we’ve found some amazing themed rooms and suites that are worth a visit (or at least a look).

{ 0 comments }

Ballnahinch Castle, one of Ireland's most beautiful historic stays, has played host to Pirate Queens, members of Parliament, and an Indian Maharaja.

Europe’s rich history is alive and well at these amazing hotels. Seeming to appear straight out of the history books, these castles, palaces, and monasteries have been the host to some of our world’s most interesting — and sometimes notorious — affairs. Pirate Queens, famous authors, scheming politicians, and celebrities of days past and present have walked through these corridors — and now you can, too, just by clicking through our slideshow.

{ 0 comments }

The exterior of the Lloyd Hotel; Amsterdam

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Amsterdam’s Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy once operated as a Nazi-run jail during the German occupation.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? American travelers admit that the hotel items they are most likely to steal are pieces of furniture like lamps and artwork.  (Ed. note: Not including toiletries because, come on.)

3.  FACT OR FAKEOUT?  Treasure Island and New York New York in Las Vegas are testing a digital lost and found database where guests can search for misplaced items online.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Playboy hotelier Vikram Chatwal had his rehab-bound friend Lindsey Lohan escorted out of the Dream Downtown after the two were seen fighting at Cherry restaurant.

5.  FACT OR FAKEOUT? Kimpton hotels — including properties like Hotel Manoco and Hotel Rogue — are getting physical with their new fitness-inspired room service, where guests can have their in-room yoga mats rolled out for them at no additional charge.

Check out the answers after the jump!

Read More »

{ 0 comments }