Barcelona

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 }

Fall is an ideal time to visit Spain, thanks to the season’s mild climate and reduced tourist crowds. (It’s still a popular time to go, but September and October aren’t nearly as busy as August, when most Europeans plan a vacation.) And visitors can avoid the hoards not just as the tourist sights, but within their hotels, too — provided they select an intimate boutique pick, like these five attractive options.

Abac Barcelona

Abac Barcelona

Abac Barcelona

This exclusive 15-room luxury boutique hotel embodies contemporary style at its best, fitting right in in a city that treasures design. Rooms are avant-garde, from the clean, white and beige decor, to the modern under lighting, to the remote-controlled blinds, to the Bang & Olufsen sound system. An amazing spa with Turkish baths shouldn’t be missed, and the hotel’s Michelin-starred on-site restaurant is a highlight. But the slightly out-of-the-way residential location is a drawback. 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 }

Ohla Hotel, Barcelona

Ohla Hotel, Barcelona

Barcelona attracts tourists from all over the world for its vibrant nightlife, excellent cuisine, beautiful Gothic and Modernist architecture, and laid-back beach vibe. And sometimes the best place to soak it all in is while taking a dip — which is made abundantly easy in a city where rooftop pools are a staple at many hotels. Check out some of our favorites.

{ 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 }

Visiting Europe is often composed of a whirlwind tour, during which visitors hurry from one tourist destination to another. Therefore — in between trips to museums and monuments — finding the time to breathe can be surprisingly difficult. To help speed along to the moment where you actually find relaxation — you’re on vacation, after all — some of our favorite hotels across the pond are outfitted with top-notch spas designed to get you to that “Ahhh” feeling faster than you can say “Euro Trip.” Whether all you want is some downtime in the sauna or a deep tissue massage, these properties have you covered. So sit back and relax—the Louvre will still be there tomorrow.

1. K West Hotel & Spa, London 

The intimate spa encourages relaxation at every corner.

K West is a smart and sophisticated option in London, with its main attraction being the beautiful K Spa. Featuring sleek style and impressive facilities — the hydrotherapy pool and “Snow Paradise” room are particularly noteworthy — the spa is well-regarded throughout the United Kingdom. The “Snow Paradise” room is meant to follow a hot steam treatment, and is based on Finnish spa techniques of using hot-cold therapy to stimulate circulation and the immune system.

Read More »

{ 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 }

Shelling out thousands of dollars a night for a hotel room may not be in the cards for most of us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a voyeuristic peek at the jaw-dropping suites that command these high price tags. From high-roller villas in Las Vegas to the uber-decadent suite in Istanbul where Madonna shacked up with her beau, these suites are designed to make you drool — and sold at prices that will make you gag.

New York Palace, New York City

  • Name: The Royal Suite
  • Price: $17,000/night

Royal Suite at the New York Palace

One of New York’s most visually stunning hotels, the New York Palace has a gilded, grandiose style, huge rooms, a luxe spa, and a fantastic gym. Its Royal Suite is among the most opulent — and expensive — suites in the City, with lavish Louis XV and XVI decor. See more photos of the Royal Suite »

Read More »

{ 1 comment }

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 }