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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Christmas Around the World

by Devon on December 6, 2012

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us (if you can’t tell by all the Target ads), and we’re taking a trip around the world to see how they celebrate in some of our favorite locales. Christmas is a special time all around the globe, whether it’s celebrated with bonfires, dead wrens (yes, you read that right), or just good ole family-style feasts, and we’ve found the best celebrations and places to stay this season. But wherever you go to celebrate the holidays, just remember to say “Merry Christmas,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Joyeux Noel,” or “Froehliche Weihnachten!”

Christmas in the United States

You can't go wrong with Christmas in New York, especially at the Plaza.

For some of the best displays of Christmas spirit, the Big Apple is a premium choice as the host of some of the most celebrated seasonal events in the world. During the one time of year New Yorkers actually don on smile, there is plenty to celebrate — from ice skating at Rockefeller Center to catching the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. For cozy accommodations, The Plaza has some of the most iconic decorations in the city, along with a prime Central Park location near the FAO Schwartz toy store and famed Fifth Avenue shopping. Even Kevin McCallister spent Christmas at the Plaza! Read More »


Deluxe Room at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel; New York, NY

Deluxe Room at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel; New York, NY

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Patrons of The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel’s Bemelmans Bar booed Bono when he unexpectedly joined the bar’s band while they were performing I’ve Got You Under My Skin. Guests claimed it stole the spotlight from the talented band members.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Montage Beverly Hills shut down the hotel’s exclusive bar per Brangelina’s request, as the couple wanted to dine without being interrupted by fans and nosy guests.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Westin Washington, DC City Center is famous for being the spot where then-Mayor Marion Barry was arrested by the FBI in 1990 while smoking crack.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? German hotel chain Kempinski will manage North Korea’s famous Ryugyong Hotel, which was first started in 1987 but was stalled for years due to the country’s economic crisis.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Hotel Vintage Park – A Kimpton Hotel recently opened the Airstream Room, which is housed in a refurbished vintage Airstream trailer equipped with a double bed and a sitting area.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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The New York Palace gets in the holiday mood -- maybe they're inspired by the holiday shops at Bryant Park?

Christmas markets, or Christkindlmarkts as they are known in Germany, originated in the Late Middle Ages as a way to celebrate the beginning of Advent — the four-week lead-up to Christmas Day. Usually hosted in town squares, these street fairs offer all kinds of seasonal charm, including handcrafted Christmas decorations and gifts, and tasty treats like mulled wine and gingerbread. From Scotland to Chicago, German-style Christmas markets are offering a jolly dose of holiday cheer to people around the globe. Here are some of our favorite Christmas markets the world-over — and the charming hotels to call home so that visions of sugar plums are sure to dance through your head all night long.

Berlin’s Christmas Markets

With over 60 Christmas markets held each holiday season in Berlin, those seeking some magical winter charm need look no further than the German capital. The creme-de-la-Christmas-creme, however, can be found at the historic Gendarmenmart, which is bordered by the French and German Cathedral on one side and the Concert House on the other. Visitors can wander the many booths lining the streets, or visit the heated craftsmen tent where toy makers, goldsmiths, and wood carvers show off their talents. The market stays open through New Year’s Eve, when visitors can hear various bands, toast the New Year with fireworks, and dance a traditional waltz after midnight. There is a one-Euro entrance fee (which is odd for a Christmas market) and New Year’s Eve tickets cost 10 Euro. Other historic Christmas markets in Germany include Dresden’s and Nuremberg’s charming fairs.

Where to Stay: Bleibtreu Hotel

Blumen 31 Flower Shop

A boutique property that has managed to ingratiate itself with its neighborhood, the Bleibtreu Hotel offers a charming bistro/diner and a flower shop with an outdoor garden that is often frequented by locals. Rooms are stylish and functional, if small, and are decorated with natural materials; some have balconies. Read More »