Austin

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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Having a pool in your hotel is always a great perk when traveling in the summer, but there are many other seasonal hotel amenities that can make a trip special. Part of our job here at Oyster is to experience the property in full, and we never miss a chance to make the most of our visit. We’ve done everything you can imagine, from zip-lining in a snowstorm to bird-watching binoculars in hand — all for the sake of a complete review. These are our favorite summer amenities and where to find them.

Loaner bikes: Paradise Point, San Diego

The best way to explore this private island is on a bike.

The best way to explore this private island is on a bike.

Plenty of hotels offer loaner bikes for guests to use during their stay, but few are located on a 44-acre private island where the best way to explore is on two wheels. Sea World San Diego and Pacific Beach’s shopping and dining are just a short bike ride away – so leave the car in the hotel’s parking lot and enjoy the sea breeze in your hair.

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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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When you go on vacation, you’re trying to escape the everyday chores of home — and that includes cooking. But cooking can actually be fun, especially if you have a master chef offering instructions. Plus, the best part of going to a cooking class? You don’t have to do the cleanup! Check out awesome hotels across the States (and one in Berlin because, well, why not?!) that offer on-site cooking lessons.

Mansion on Forsyth Park, Savannah

700 Kitchen Cooking School at the Mansion on Forsyth Park

Savannah, where chefs such as Paula Deen got their starts, is arguably the food capital of the South. One of the city’s top luxury hotels, the Mansion on Forsyth also boasts one of the city’s top attractions: It’s on-site cooking classes at the 700 Kitchen Cooking School. In classes of no more than fifteen students, the hotel’s culinary director, Chef Darin Sehnert, teaches everyone from novices to (at least self-proclaimed) experts. Though different classes focus on a variety of cuisines, such as Italian and Caribbean, the most popular are the Low Country cuisine classes, where menus include delectable delights such as Low Country crab stew, angel biscuits, and green tomato cobbler. Classes are available for lunch and dinner; most last three hours and cost $100/person.

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The Inn at Palmetto Bluff is a romantic spot in Carolina Lowcountry.

Romance is alive and well below the Mason-Dixon line, where Southern charm makes everything seem more bewitching. Couples looking for a romantic getaway will be satisfied no matter their taste, considering that the region boasts both gorgeous antebellum mansions and modern luxury stays. Choosing the most romantic spots, then, is quite a difficult task, but we think we’re up to the challenge. From intimate city boutiques to sprawling Lowcountry estates, here are some of our favorite hotels in the South that are just the trick in the romance department.

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The Marriott Wailea Resort is a romantic honeymoon locale on Maui.

Honeymoons must be two things: romantic and memorable. Any old trip to the beach is just not going to suffice for a couple’s post-nuptial getaway. But thankfully, there are plenty of unique and luxurious properties out there for newlyweds. Remote jungle hideaways, cozy mountain lodges, luxe European grand dames, and gorgeous beachfront properties are waiting with a bottle of champagne at the ready to toast your “I dos.” These romantic hotels around the world are perfect honeymoon locales; go ahead and swoon over them in this slideshow.

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