Have you been waiting patiently for your favorite hotel to get Oyster’d? We understand, we do. And we’re trotting the globe as fast as we possibly can to bring you more destinations and hotels every day. We investigate every single hotel in person, and that takes time, but we think the results are worth it. Take a look at our newest additions from California, Amsterdam, New Orleans, and Toronto!
Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam
The Conservatorium Hotel delivers a true five-pearl experience in Amsterdam’s residential Museum Quarter. It’s housed in a 100-year-old former bank building, and the hotel’s warm, modern design melds seamlessly with the structure; the stunning atrium lobby, for example, is industrial-chic, featuring wood, brick, and glass. The rooms are decorated in earthy neutrals and every detail was considered, from the placement of the electrical outlets to the reading lights by the bed to the high-tech controls for the lighting and blinds; some rooms have duplex layouts and exposed structural beams. Bathrooms are gorgeous, with rainfall showerheads, stone tile, LCD mirror TVs and micro cotton towels. The big, modern fitness center, stylish indoor pool, and lovely spa, all located below ground, are highlights. It’s a premier choice for luxury travelers looking to trade a central location for added space and quiet.
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Are you on Santa’s Naughty or Nice list this year? We’ve seen a lot of good and bad behaviors during our travels over the last year — and maybe dabbled in both as well! So we know every dirty little secret, or shiny gold star, that you’ve been part-and-parcel to on vacation. But if you’re not sure where you stand in Santa’s twinkling eyes, we’re here to help. You can find out whether your favorite hotel amenities will get your stockings stuffed full of goodies or weighed down by coal this holiday season with our quiz. So check out which list you’re on!
The Naughty List:
1. Have you stripped down?
Clothing optional resorts like the Desire Riviera Maya can see some X-rated action.
For some travelers, itsy bitsy bikinis or revealing Speedos just don’t cut it — a vacation isn’t a vacation without a little nudity. Luckily for them, some hotels are redefining casual dress with policies that let guests bare it all (or almost all), like the couples-only, clothing-optional Desire Resort & Spa Riviera Maya. A little voyeurism never hurt anyone — but don’t be surprised if your nude antics land you on the naughty list this winter.
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There are plenty of different ways to travel in Europe – from shoestring-budget trips to over-the-top getaways worthy of the British royals. Here at Oyster we’ve been lucky enough to be able to do both (seriously, the budget hotels in Europe are pretty nice!), but the holidays are for wishing and dreaming, so we’re going to help you put together your own list of top places to get pampered in 2013. Keep reading and discover our favorite luxury hotels in Europe!
These luxurious rooms have classic, elegant decor, but modern technologies.
The world-renowned luxury hotel Plaza Athenee — a part of the Dorchester Collection — is synonymous with Parisian elegance and good taste. Iconic red awnings and chestnut trees welcome guests to the historic setting, on the upscale Avenue Montaigne location with direct views of the Eiffel Tower. It’s all about luxury here, inside and out. The avenue is lined with high-end shops such as Christian Dior, Prada, and Chanel. And inside, the 146 rooms and 45 suites are decorated in classic Art Deco style with modern touches like flat-screen TVs and marble baths. With six distinct restaurants, a large fitness center, and a can’t-miss daily breakfast in a leafy garden, the Plaza Athenee doesn’t miss a beat.
- Our favorite luxe amenity: Guests have access to the Dior Institute for a full range of quality beauty and spa treatments.
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Legalization supporters in the U.S. have been abuzz (excuse the pun) in recent weeks, ever since Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. So it’s safe to say that heading west is a good call these days if you’re planning on toking up. But heading east to our friends in Europe isn’t such a bad idea, either. For example, despite the recent tourist drug ban in the Netherlands, tourists and locals alike can continue to openly smoke in Amsterdam’s cafes. And numerous neighboring countries where weed is decriminalized have loose policies when it comes to the drug’s recreational use. So we’ve come up with a list — here are some of the best spots to smoke weed in Europe.
View from The Dylan Amsterdam
Though recent steps within government policies have made it seem like the Netherlands will become less tolerant towards marijuana use, Amsterdam’s mayor has promised that the city’s over 200 coffee shops will continue to serve locals and tourists. After all, many of the city’s 1.5 million tourists visit Amsterdam solely because of its lenient policies. Marijuana use is officially decriminalized in the Netherlands, and laws banning its use are rarely enforced.
Where to Stay: The Dylan Amsterdam
The Dylan is a stylish, upscale boutique centrally located in the Canal Ring. The 41 rooms are split into six different styles, ranging from lofts with cathedral ceilings to all-white rooms to Asian-inspired spaces. All rooms have high-end amenities including Bose sound systems, stocked minibars, and Zenology toiletries. A cozy lounge, two bars, a brasserie, and a lovely courtyard with heat lamps are all draws, but the real highlight here is the Michelin-star Vinkeles restaurant, which serves contemporary French cuisine in an exclusive space with just a handful of tables. Talk about a swanky spot to cure the munchies!
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In our new series, Oyster Stats, we’re sharing surprising tidbits on a range of topics using data we’ve accumulated from our hotel coverage and site traffic. Our goal is not to provide scientific data but to provide interesting directional insights about travel trends.
The presidential debates have everyone all hot and bothered, and understandably so. As Election Day nears, voters are left questioning their parties and searching for proof that the person they plan on voting for will be the best suited for the job. Well, we here at Oyster.com can’t guarantee that, but we have collected some interesting evidence that may have you looking at the election — and particularly your fellow voters — in a new light. Check out our findings below.
Finding: Swing state residents are swingers.
It may come as a surprise to you that those who live in the most indecisive states are also the most likely to decide to dabble in a swing-tastic lifestyle — or it may not. After all, the more options, the better! In our research, we found that a significantly larger percentage of Oyster.com viewers residing in the swing states were checking out hotels on our site that encourage open relationships — such as Desire Resort & Spa Los Cabos, Desire Resort & Spa Riviera Maya, and Temptation Resort & Spa Cancun – than viewers in the red and blue states. So okay fine, we understand that this may not mean that swing state residents are actually more likely to be swingers. But it at least means that they’re more likely to have it on their minds!
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Bar Rendez-Vous at the Ibis Amsterdam Centre; Amsterdam, Holland
1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Participating Ibis Hotels in Europe feature rooms equipped with robot arms programmed to create unique pantings by interpreting data sent by guests’ movements, temperatures and noises while sleeping on a special mattress.
2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The economic output generated by domestic and international visitors to the States in 2011 was almost three times the military budget of the U.S. in the 2010 fiscal year.
3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Chateau Marmont will be releasing a portrait book of celebrities posed naked inside the hotel’s rooms.
4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Mark has just launched a new service in which airport concierges direct guests to private Immigration booths that cater exclusively to the hotel’s guests.
5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa is now offering elliptical machines that can be ridden like bicycles for guests’ use.
Check out the answers after the jump!
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The times, oh they are a-changing. Credit: iStockPhoto
Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most celebrated cultural centers thanks to dozens of museums, picturesque canals, and an overall friendly atmosphere. But the city is also known for its Red Light district — filled with XXX-type entertainment — and its lax stance on marijuana. With more than 200 legal dispensaries, Amsterdam uses these laid-back laws as a means of subduing the black market drug trade and keeping crime rates low – keeping things soooo mellow, if you will. But this coming January, The Netherlands will vote on whether or not non-natives can buy pot at their infamous “brown cafes.” To locals, the initiative would mean residents would have to register as “users,” which would then be verified by a dispensary owner. But since we’re not Dutch, we figured we needed to pack our bags ASAP while we can still get legally stoned. After scrounging the city, we found some of the best cafes — plus hotels where you can rest your head — in Europe’s Hemp Heaven.
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We love when we get a chance to hop across the pond and explore Europe. And one of the best parts of a European vacation is that even a quick jaunt can include visits to multiple countries. Traveling from the westernmost capital (Lisbon) to the easternmost (Moscow) takes just over five hours – which is less than the time it takes to fly from New York to Los Angeles — and many trips take only around an hour. Plus, you don’t need a visa for every country on your itinerary. So now that the Games are winding down (Go U.S.A.!), take a break from good ole’ London and top off your European getaway with visits to nearby countries. We compiled a list of our top picks for overnight trips, all less than a two-hour flight from London. Start packing!
Overnight Trip #1: Dublin
The Temple Bar area in Dublin is the perfect spot for a pint
Ireland’s capital is a vibrant city with a small-town vibe. The relaxed atmosphere encourages lazy days throwing back pints in a pub, but tourists are certainly never at a want for things to do: Dublin boasts a hopping nightlife – especially in the Temple Bar area – as well as gorgeous architecture, beautiful gardens (don’t miss St. Stephen’s Green), wonderful museums, a surprisingly gourmet dining scene, and an easily walkable city center.
- Tip: The pay-as-you-go bicycle system in the city center is a great way to explore Dublin, and is often a more reliable means of transportation than the public tram system. Just make sure you get a map before heading out for the day, as one-way streets can be tricky.
STAY AT: The Morgan
One-Bedroom Suite at The Morgan; Dublin, Ireland
The Morgan is a boutique hotel located in Temple Bar, the “cultural quarter” and nightlife center in Dublin. The all-white rooms have comfortable beds and crisp linens, and are complete with modern bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, minibars, and electric kettles. While there is no gym or spa, and in-room Wi-Fi comes at an additional fee, the hotel is home to a popular neighborhood bar serving a small tapas menu and cocktails.
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There’s a reason tourists flock to museums while on vacation: Time goes by way too fast in the real world for individuals to set hours to wander an art gallery. And even if vacay is prime time to explore various museums wherever you may be, the galleries often come with long lines and pushy crowds. Thankfully, hotels are responding to the masses’ hunt for artistic expression. From intimate collections to large-scale galleries, many hotels play host to some excellent exhibitions with works by legends like Andy Warhol, Alison Shotz, and Henri Matisse, as well as up-and-coming local artists. Get your sketchpads out — it’s time for a little artistic inspiration.
Dan Gunn's Mystery of the Rectangle Exhibit at The James Chicago
The Art: One of Chicago’s top luxury hotels, The James’ sometimes quirky aesthetic is modern, minimalist, and clever. Its appreciation of art and design is present throughout the lobby, which hosts small exhibitions such as Dan Gunn’s pieces, seen above, and in its two art galleries. Both local and international, renowned and up-and-coming artists can find their way into the James, whose dedication to creative expression stems from the artsy River North area it calls home.
Attention hipsters-at-heart: You too are running out of time to plan your vacation. Okay, so the summer just officially started, but hotels are booking up fast, festival ticket booths are hanging the “Sold Out” banners, and flights are getting more expensive. So if all you’re looking forward to is to
having an excuse for growing a mustache, getting a tattoo, spending a few days eating organic, locally grown food, drinking coffee and biking around, check out our 5 top picks for a real hipster vacation and start packing. Tip: skinny jeans for him, cut-outs jeans for her, sunglasses, and an instrument required.
Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY
Hipsters started flocking to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood in the early 2000’s, and in just a few years the area has become the ultimate boho-chic spot. As housing prices soared in the area due to its popularity, hipsters started moving to more affordable yet equally cool neighborhoods in Brooklyn, such as Greenpoint and Bushwick, and spreading the lifestyle. There’s now a bunch of farmer’s markets, hundreds of cool bars, and dozens of organic restaurants all around the borough. However, Williamsburg is still the place to catch a show at one of its hundreds of venues (ranging from small holes in the wall –check out Pete’s Candy Store–, to larger spaces like Brooklyn Bowl), get a drink, or even get a haircut (an expensive one, that is) in an old garage that doubles as a trendy tattoo parlor. Round up the experience with a trip to beautiful Carroll Gardens, family-friendly Park Slope, and even up-and-coming Downtown Brooklyn neighborhoods.
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