Berlin

We’ve all fantasized about a month-long trip to Europe — but the time to fulfill this dream is not always easy to come by. Fortunately, a ton of time isn’t necessarily required if you want to explore the other side of the pond. With just a few days, you can visit numerous areas of the continent and hit up top destinations, and there are a few attractions you just can’t miss. We’ve picked one in each of Europe’s most popular cities, and paired it with a nearby hotel so you can get the most out of your flash trip. These nine sights are all must-sees — don’t miss out!

Must-See #1: Tower Bridge, London

The Tower Bridge was designed by Sir Horace Jones in 1884.

The Tower Bridge was designed by Sir Horace Jones in 1884.

Some of you might say, “What about Big Ben (excuse us, the “Elizabeth Tower”)? And the British Museum?” Well, yes, those are top spots of course, but if there is one place that makes London recognizable, it is the Tower Bridge. Built in the late 19th century and painted blue in 1977 for Queen Elizabeth II’s silver jubilee, the bridge is crossed on foot, bike, car and double-decker bus by thousands of Londoners and visitors daily, making it one of the most visited places in all of London. On a rainy day, you can get great views of the bridge from the glass-enclosed City Hall, and on a sunny day, head to the Tower of London for the best vistas.

Stay: Apex City of London Hotel

Spacious rooms have warm lighting and free Wi-Fi.

Spacious rooms have warm lighting and free Wi-Fi.

The Apex City of London Hotel is a contemporary, mid-size chain property located just a 3-minute walk to the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, and the tube. All 179 rooms have warm lighting, big flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and bathrooms with separate soaking tubs and walk-in showers. The sleek interior design continues in the lobby and in Addendum Restaurant, which serves seasonal fare and has outdoor seating. Small touches (such as a rubber ducky for the tub) make this property feel like more than a typical chain hotel.

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Awards season continues this Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles as the biggest names in the music industry strut their stuff at the 55th Grammy Awards. And as we dream about jamming on stage with the likes of  Elton John, The Lumineers, Jack White, and Justin Timberlake (who’s making his return to the Grammy stage after a four-year hiatus from the music scene, swoon), we can’t help but be a little jealous of those who get to do so. Thankfully, some of our favorite hotels understand our musical plight. From on-site recording studios to guitar rental services, these hotels may not promise celeb-studded jam sessions but they’re definitely rocker-approved. And we mean that literally: Everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Stevie Wonder has visited these music meccas of the hotel world. So if you want to drop a beat before the awards or just pick up the vibes left behind by some of your favorite musicians, check out these rock-ready hotels.

Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas, Los Angeles 

The Nightbird Sound Studio at the Sunset Marquis has hosted A-list recording artists for decades.

The Sunset Marquis cost guests just $8 a night when it first opened in 1963 as a motel for musicians playing at the nearby House of Blues, Roxy, and Viper Room, all located within a few minutes’ walk. Today, there are so many celebrities that continue to traipse through the hotel that the staff doesn’t get starstruck anymore. During Oyster’s two-night stay, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Joss Stone, and Roger Daltrey of The Who were all spotted at the hotel, validating the hotel’s “paparazzi diversion tactics” that are offered for a nominal fee.

In addition to its innate rocker vibe, the hotel also offers a state-of-the-art recording studio on-site — Nightbird Sound Studios — designed by renowned acoustician George Auspurger. Accessed via a hidden entrance in the underground garage, the space features (in addition to the usual trappings) a Yamaha Mark IV Disklavier piano, one of only two in America, on which Stevie Wonder has been recorded. Every A-list musician has passed through the studio, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Justin Timberlake, and Lil Wayne and Green Day both recorded here within days of Oyster’s visit. High rollers can rent out the studio for personal use, including karaoke birthday parties.

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Trust us, we here at Oyster get it more than most people — going on vacation is freakin’ awesome. Vacations are all about fun, relaxation, and the “what happens here, stays here” vibe, and when you’re on a vacay, it feels like nothing can get ya down. But some hotel websites go a little too far and market their properties by showing “guests” in absolutely euphoric (and unrealistic) states. To the point where we’re pretty sure that that kind of happy can only be reached if you’ve been dabbling in some recreational, er, “fun.” And depending on the destination, maybe you have been. But still, when we’re deciding where to stay for our winter getaway, we usually don’t base it on how happy the “guests” on the website seem to be. Nonetheless, those photos can be pretty entertaining. Last time, we rounded up a bunch of marketing photos where the guests just couldn’t seem happier. And this time, we’ve done the same thing — but focused on those hotel couples that just seem so in luuuurve. We’re sorry, but even if we were married to Ryan Gosling, we wouldn’t be smiling that big! Check out some of the most hilarious hotel couples we found!

1. Your room or mine?

“What about one final fling before you marry that old ball and chain?” (Mansion on Forsyth Park, Savannah)

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We’re all about a funky hotel or two, but there’s something to be said for the grand dames. They celebrate their storied histories and iconic statuses with classic, timeless decor — that’s almost always tres chic and just a bit over the top, dahhhling. And whenever you step into one of these hotels, you feel like you’re in the presence of greatness — at least, great decor and design.  So today we’re giving a photo tour of our favorite hotels that have that classically elegant (and dare we say, old money?) look down pat. From gilded pillars to floral patterns, from dainty tea sets to regal portraits, these hotels keep their spaces feeling timeless. Get inspired — and get the look!

The Fairmont San Francisco

Lobby at The Fairmont San Francisco

The Fairmont combines the amenitiestechnology, and corporate-dominated clientele of a large, modern property with the history, cachet, and decor of a turn-of-the-20th-century grand old dame. Upon entering the lobby, guests are wowed by the sweeping ceilings, gilded accents, intricate wrought ironing, and massive marble columns, under which guests can recline on plush velvet sofas in rich golds and browns. The overall effect is stunning, and exudes a glamorous 1920s vibe. Rooms, many with stunning views, are equally elegant with warm gold and green accents, antique mahogany furniture, and cozy beds.

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“This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…”  Yesterday, our favorite astrological free spirits started celebrating their 2013 birthdays, and we couldn’t be happier for them. Possessing a deep social conscience, Aquarians are humanitarian, philanthropic, and dedicated to making the world a better place. And they do so with flair. Known for their wildly inventive and creative ideas, Aquarians can also be temperamental and flighty if you don’t encourage their quirk. Luckily, Oyster has stayed at some of the best off-beat, hippie-chic retreats for fostering the unpredictable and artistic notions of the Water Bearers in your life. So get your sketchpads ready, it’s time to take these rebellious visionaries on a one-of-a-kind vacation.

Korakia Pensione, Palm Springs

Korakia Pensione brings a bit of the Mediterranean to Palm Springs.

Korakia Pensione is a striking hotel in Palm Springs. Modeled after a Mediterranean pensione, it looks like something out of Greece or Morocco, and Aquarians are sure to relish in its exotic, eclectic vibe. Aquarians are also notorious flirts (what with all of that passionate, creative energy roiling around inside them), so they’ll definitely appreciate that Korakia was named one of Forbes’ sexiest hotels in America. The two Korakia Pensione pools and many outdoor spaces – including fire pits, fountains, and stone paths — are all beautiful and unexpected. And the hotel plays old movies every night outside on the terrace. The rooms are named, not numbered, and each is slightly different, but all have an old-world, whimsical feel.
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In honor of President Obama’s inauguration on Monday, we’re taking a look back at his travels over his last four years in office — and on the campaign trail. The Commander-In-Chief has laid his head in some of our favorite hotels around the globe and, thanks to his refined taste and seriously swanky style (although we’d argue we really have Michelle to thank for that), we’re always eager to see where he’ll travel to next (and, more importantly, where he’ll stay!). Congratulations, Mr. President! May the next four years be full of prosperous times — and plenty of unique hotel stays!

The Hay-Adams, Washington, DC

This decadent junior suite at The Hay-Adams offers White House views.

Four years ago, President Obama moved his family into the Presidential Suite at this historic hotel with White House views after former President George W. Bush rejected his request to stay in Blair House, the White House’s guest residence. President Obama wanted to move to Washington three weeks before his inauguration so that his daughters could start at Sidwell Friends School without missing the beginning of the term, but he was informed that Blair House was already booked (for former prime minister of Australia John Howard and several receptions, as it later turned out). Lucky for him, The Hay-Adams is one of DC’s most luxurious stays. Read More »

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Staying at a hotel is downright inspiring (unless it’s this hotel, of course). After all, being in a new environment can make you feel rejuvenated and relaxed, and the space can even give you ideas for sprucing up your home. Today we’re giving a photo tour of our favorite hotels that have that “bright and bold” vibe down pat. From crazy colorful murals to subtle pops of color, these hotels keep their spaces fun and light. Get inspired — and get the look!

W Atlanta – Buckhead

Lobby at the W Atlanta - Buckhead

Texture, pattern, color — the W in Buckhead has it all; in fact, it has it all right in the lobby! This design-focused, chic hotel offers a younger, funkier alternative to upscale hotels in Atlanta, and the contemporary style ranges from the antler-adorned chandeliers in the lobby to the uber-modern, minimalist decor in other common areas. But what we really covet are the cozy chairs in the rooms, where playful patterns and mismatched artwork create a whimsical vibe.

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Though they can quickly turn from gilded to just plain gaudy, gold style accents(done right) are some of our favorite design trends, and can bring a unique luster to any room. So whether they have subtle metallic accents throughout, or are just unabashedly gold from every angle, these are our favorite rooms for feeling royal on the road. After all, you don’t have to be The Donald to appreciate the finer things in life. Just take a look at some of these gilded greats: When it comes to giving us the royal treatment, these rooms have the Midas touch!

The Gold Room at the Michelberger Hotel shines from top to bottom.

Hotel: Michelberger Hotel, Berlin

Stay: The Gold Room

Undoubtedly one of our favorite gold rooms for its sheer commitment to the look, the Gold Room at this Berlin boutique is eccentric, playful, and just plain fabulous. Take look at the disco-inspired bathroom! Even in all it’s metallic glory, the room has a romantic vibe — complete with an in-room whirlpool —  that is sure set the mood for any guests lucky enough to spend the night in its opulence.

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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!

Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris

These luxurious rooms have classic, elegant decor, but modern technologies.

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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This year, the Festival of Lights takes place from this Saturday (December 8th) through the 16th. Celebrations vary from the traditional — lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, and giving gelt — to the more unique gatherings (skiing with the “Adventure Rabbi”, anyone?), but all are heartfelt, fun affairs that involve the whole family. Jews around the globe will be coming together over the next eight nights, and there are plenty of events for them to explore the world over. We’ve collected some of our favorites here, but no matter where you end up, here’s wishing you and yours a very Happy Hanukkah!

This holiday season, The Plaza is playing host to the world's largest menorah, in addition to other celebrated guests.

Visit the World’s Largest Menorah in New York City

Standing 32 feet tall and weighing two tons, New York City‘s menorah is the largest in the world. It stands on a piece of prime real estate, right in front of the iconic Plaza hotel on 5th Avenue, across the street from Central Park. Admission is free, and guests can stay to enjoy sufganiyot — holiday jelly donuts — and folk dancing after the lighting, which starts at 5:30 nightly (excluding the Sabbath). On December 8th, there will also be live music, singing, and dancing to kick off the holiday, as well as Hanukkah gelt for the children and hot latkes for everyone to enjoy.

Where to Stay: The Plaza

As NYC’s menorah is so conveniently located in front of The Plaza, why not stay at the iconic New York hotel? The century-old landmark has huge rooms, gold-plated bathroom fixtures, an exceptional spa, and 24-hour butler service. It’s definitely worth the splurge this holiday season.

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