Austin

It’s hard to resist the complex flavors and rich history that comes with drinking a glass of vino. And heck, it’s hard to resist sipping on wine even without all that history…but it is noteworthy: In a process dating back to 6000 BC (well before the Romans epitomized the drink across the Mediterranean), the transformation from crushed grapes to delectable alcoholic beverage has been an important part of the human tradition for reasons celebratory, religious, or just plain appetizing.

From the Greek Isles to Australia’s Yarra Valley, from Chardonnay to Shiraz, some variation of the grape stuff can be found the world over. And for the discerning traveler looking to explore a region’s gustatory offerings, many wineries await with open arms to offer tours of their operation and — most importantly — samples of their best vintages. Picturesque backdrops set the scene across the globe for a truly delicious (and perhaps tipsy) experience. So whether you’re a wine aficionado or an eager wino student, pack your bags and make sure to bring a corkscrew, because these far flung locales have just the bottle of wine for you.

1. Napa Valley, California

napa

Napa Valley — home to some of the most charming cities in the U.S. — is also one of the world’s best wine-growing regions, with hundreds of wineries sprawling across the rolling hills. Wineries can occasionally feel a little touristy (it’s not uncommon to see a tour bus parked outside), but perhaps that’s inevitable in one of the world’s top wine-tasting destinations. The valley is actually divided into fourteen sub-regions, each suited to a particular grape, so you can map your tour based on your wine preferences.

Where to Stay: If you’re daydreaming of a luxury stay in the heart of wine country — complete with impressive views, rustic-luxe charm, and lavish  amenities — you can’t do much better than the Harvest Inn. Each guest receives a bottle of wine upon arrival, and many rooms overlook the neighboring vineyards of St. Helena.  Read More »

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A waterfront vacation doesn’t have to mean a trip to the beach. River locales, such as charming San Antonio or rugged Snoqualmie, offer plenty of the same draws as oceans and lakes. Flowing past some of America’s best cities, around mountain ranges, and through desserts, these rivers are the optimal alternative vacation spots for boating, fishing, hiking, and more while on vacation. So get ready to dive into our favorite river destinations.

1. May River in Bluffton, South Carolina 

The May River is just one corner of gorgeous Carolina Lowcountry.

Carolina Lowcountry is a truly other-worldly corner of the United States. Here, salty marshes and mossy forests are connected by scenic waterways. The May, Cooper, and New Rivers wind through the region’s haunting landscapes, providing visitors with unique ways to soak in the beauty of the region. Boating and kayaking are popular, especially since bottlenose dolphins are common in this area. You can also go fishing, crabbing, or shrimping.

STAY:  The Inn at Palmetto Bluff

This “inn” in Carolina Lowcountry is really more akin to a sprawling estate, offering a range of recreational facilities, including golf, bicycling, tennis, croquet, kayaking, and swimming; plus, the luxury spa is highly acclaimed. Read More »

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For many people across the country, fall means two things: Back to school, and football season. And for many college alumni, it can mean both of those things at once – fall is the time to visit the ol’ alma mater for Homecoming and watch your college team (hopefully!) beat the pants off its biggest rival. Because nothing says fall like tailgating and face paint. To help you plan your trip, we’ve found great hotels near a number of universities across the country; it’s hard to be comprehensive with so many great Homecoming celebrations out there, but this should help bring some of you closer to Homecoming glory.

Stanford University, Palo Alto

Garden Court Hotel, Palo Alto

Garden Court Hotel, Palo Alto

In town to watch the Cardinals play? The Garden Court Hotel is a standout boutique hotel in Downtown Palo Alto, located on a quaint tree-lined street just off of University Avenue and a short drive from Stanford’s campus.  The hotel’s beautiful rooms are the highlight; they have elegant white-and-blue decor, upscale amenities, marble bathrooms, and in many, balconies overlooking the quaint courtyard. Read More »

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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 »

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Hotel Ella, Austin, Texas

Hotel Ella, Austin, Texas

If there’s one word that can describe the ethereal beauty and warm ambiance of the South, it’s charming. And what better way to celebrate this corner of the United States than by reveling in a little bit of history during your visit? These mansions — most of them dating back to the 1800s — represent the epitome of Southern charm. So pack your bags and head for the Mason-Dixon Line: It’s time for some proper front porch sittin’.

 

 

 

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Sedona provides the perfect hiking grounds for your next trek.

The Southwest is one of our favorite places to get physical thanks to its crisp, high-altitude air; gorgeous terrain; and earthy, holistic vibes. And though there may be tons of incredible national parks throughout the region — including Arches, Zion, and the Grand Canyon — other lesser-known areas prove to be just as majestic. Take a look at just a few of our favorite places in the Southwest to get fit and reconnect with Mother Nature!

 

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Since its birth, rock and roll and hotels have gone hand in hand. Whether it involves bands hitting the road on tour, infamously trashing a suite, or taking up temporary residence while working on an album, there’s an unmistakably inspirational quality to booking a room and letting loose. Luckily, a few hotels understand this relationship and offer their guests the ability to live like a rock star with some over-the-top music amenities. We strapped on our Stratocaster and hit the road to show you the hotel rooms bound to make music fans weak in the knees.

“You Spin Me Right Round (Like A Record)”: Hotel Saint Cecilia

Front Desk at the Hotel Saint Cecilia

Austin is a city that’s known for its hip music scene and hip crowds. It’s not surprising, then, that the Hotel Saint Cecilia has done away with a traditional front desk in favor of a cool collection of vinyl records and a turntable that guests are free to use. (The hotel is named after the patron saint of music and poetry, after all.) In-room record players and iPod docks make it easy to take the party back to your room, where decor reflects the artistic lifestyle Austin loves to support.

“Two Turntables And A Microphone”: Ace Hotel NY

Medium Room at the Ace Hotel NY

Like the Hotel Saint Cecilia, the Ace Hotel NY harkens back to a time when vinyl was king. Rooms have curated touches like Music Hall turntables with a vinyl library that allows guests to put their own spin (ha!) on their in-room entertainment.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”: Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

By now, most people are familiar with the Hard Rock chain’s style of decorating their properties with rock memorabilia and photographs, and this hotel is no different. What sets it apart is the “picks.” program, which allows guests to test-drive Strats, Telecasters and other “surprise” models in the comfort of their rooms. Staff will deliver the ax (or bass) of your choice to your room, along with an amp and headphones so you can rock out without damaging your neighbors’ eardrums. You can find further inspiration in the décor: each floor is themed after a different artist, from Madonna to John Lennon. Just make sure you don’t pull a full rock star moment and trash your room.

“It Needs More Cowbell!!!”: Geejam

Recording Studio at the Geejam

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to lay down tracks. Luckily, the Geejam agrees: There’s a fully functional recording studio on-site. Producer-turned-hotelier Jon Baker built the studio back when the resort was a secluded, private artists’ retreat. Some serious notables have laid down tracks here, including Bjork, Common, the Gorillaz, and India.Arie. The focus on music carries throughout the property — eclectic reggae music plays in public areas — all the way back to the rooms themselves. All rooms are musically themed suites and villas with names like the Ska Suite or the Drum and Bass Suite, featuring plenty of rock-inspired artwork. All suites come stocked with high-tech entertainment systems including iPod docks and AppleTVs that are preloaded with an impressive selection of reggae and soul music.

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Hotel bars are often a convenient spot for a nightcap or a quick after-work drink (anything to take the edge off!) while on a business trip — but not all have the right vibe and noise level to help free your mind of all the stress after a long day of work. Whether you have been working all day in your office, or running from meeting to meeting while on the road, these great hotel bars are a safe bet for some after-work fun.

Red Owl Tavern at Hotel Monaco Philadelphia

The Red Owl offers Independence Mall views and great drinks.

The Red Owl offers Independence Hall views and great drinks.

The Red Owl Tavern is a hip spot located off the lobby at Hotel Monaco. It offers a fantastic wine list (put together by Kimpton Hotels master sommelier Emily Wines), and hand-crafted cocktails. With huge windows overlooking Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, a couple of cool industrial-inspired details, and house-cured charcuterie board specials, the bar attracts a varied crowd of professionals.

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The Canyon Ranch in Miami has a gorgeous rooftop pool with stunning ocean views.

The Canyon Ranch in Miami has a gorgeous rooftop pool with stunning ocean views.

Deciding on a destination for an upcoming trip is never easy. While the beach and mountains may beckon, cities are a great option year-round, offering an array of activities for every type of getaway. After a long day of sight-seeing, however, some may long for those quiet, relaxing moments by the pool that are often easier to come by in non-urban destinations. So we’ve rounded up our favorite urban rooftop pools, so you can find relaxation even in a bustling metropolis. Click through the slideshow and discover some of our favorite hotel rooftop pools.

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Built in 1900, this neoclassical mansion is the perfect place for a true Southern wedding.

The upscale, 48-room Mansion at Judges’ Hill is steeped in Southern history, making it an ideal spot for a wedding, darlin’. Housed in the neoclassical Goodall Wooten House — dating back to 1900 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places — the hotel combines old-fashioned charm with modern comforts. And the mansion, with its columned facade and wide veranda, looks like it was picked up from a storied estate and dropped on the residential street southwest of the University of Texas, just a 5-minute drive from downtown Austin, where it sits. The common areas maintain the elegance instituted by the entrance with hard-wood floors, coffered ceilings, white wainscoting, rich rugs, and original artwork. The library, a small room off the bar, is cozy, and the dining room features pretty crystal chandeliers. The rooms are perhaps a bit less impressive than the public spaces; they’re quaint, but not quite luxurious.

But for weddings, the Mansion pulls out all of the stops. The staff, which has coordinated many a wedding in the past, is dedicated to making the bride and groom as relaxed as possible on the big day. They assist couples with menu planning, ceremony and reception set-up, and ceremony personalization so you’ll leave your own stamp on the Mansion’s grand backdrop. There are eight reception sites available, the most popular being the grand ballroom (seats 50 to 250 guests), the Goodall Wooten House (seats 50 guests), and the central courtyard. See more wedding-inspired photos of the Mansion at Judge’ Hill here »  Read More »

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