Boston

As summer comes to a close and Labor Day fast approaches, it can only mean one thing — school is about to be back in session. Of course, degrees and majors are important (kinda, sorta). But when choosing their collegiate home for the next four years (or five or six — no judgement; it’s the best years of your life), many high school seniors also consider the nightlife, history, and culture of the college towns. Taking a trip to these locales offers potential students an opportunity to check out the scene — and it’s also fun chance to explore a young, vibrant college town and relive co-ed life — without the homework — for those who have already attended plenty of college reunions in their day. Here are 10 hotels to visit the next time you want to go back to school — but you can trade in the projects and essays for interesting sights and delicious meals.

Hotel Commonwealth, Boston

Hotel Commonwealth

Some of the most well-known universities call Boston home, so it’s no wonder the city’s population contains a large amount of students. Harvard, MIT, Boston University and Brandeis make up just a small handful of the Boston area’s higher education options. Rich in history, Boston can be as educational as it is entertaining. When you go, make sure to check out a few of the college campuses and perhaps opt for a stay at the 148-room Hotel Commonwealth, one of the most well-rounded boutique hotels in Boston. With its classical furnishings, large rooms, and impressive array of services, it captures the spirit of the city like few others. It’s also a quick three-minute walk to Boston University.

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Many hotels that we visit are housed in brand-spanking-new buildings, erected in recent years for the sole purpose of being the site of that “just opened” Marriott or Four Seasons. But some properties, recently opened ones and historic ones alike, instead reinvent old spaces to create the hotels that visitors call home during their vacations. And some of these old buildings have quite the story to tell! From prisons to plantations, the 10 hotels on this list were once the sites of quite different operations, and all have storied – whether eerie or interesting or just downright weird – pasts.

 Liberty Hotel, Boston

Liberty Hotel

For nearly 150 years, this tall granite building was known as the Charles Street Jail and housed some of Boston’s most heinous criminals. In 2007, after a painstaking restoration that preserved elements of the prison design, it reopened as the Liberty Hotel. The result is stunning, with nearly 300 rooms, a 90-foot-tall atrium, winding catwalks, and high, circular windows that flood the lobby with light. The hotel’s popular restaurants and bars play on the jailhouse theme with names like Alibi, Clink, and The Yard.

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Fitness centers, outdoor pools and spas are common amenities at hotels these days, but want to know one of our favorite features offered? Live music! We’ve visited quite a few hotels that are a fun place to catch a show, whether you’re a guest or live in the surrounding area. From poolside DJ sets to soulful jazz in a cozy lounge, hotels give their guests a unique way to enjoy the city without leaving the grounds. If you’re someone who loves to kick back and enjoy live music, you’ll definitely want to bookmark these 10 hotels!

Ace Hotel and Swim Club, Palm Springs

Ace Hotel

This upper-middle-range, 180-room hipster haven has a palpable party vibe and frequent music nights with a live DJ. The style is retro, with 70s details such as record players and vinyl in the rooms. The property draws a young crowd and can get quite loud with its purposeful off-the-beaten-path vibe. Their Swim Club members get year-round access to the outdoor swimming hole, gym, spa and poolside happenings like their DJ events and the Reggae Sol party on the last Saturday of each month. Although it gets crowded, lounging by the pool while a DJ spins sounds like a fun way to spend the day to us!

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Sometimes, the journey is about the destination. Because the destination is so special, your whole travel experience is wrapped up inside it. We’ve traveled the world and have been to some pretty special spots. From a western dude ranch to a Florentine palazzo to an African canoe excursion, these 11 trips offer a far richer experience than your typical overnight stay.

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Travel is often an expensive endeavor, especially when you’re part of a large group and your days are packed with fun (but pricey) adventures. After all, no one wants to be the Negative Nancy who suggests ordering in for a night or two. But fortunately, traveling in a group can have its money-saving perks. While many a hotel keeps groups of more than four adults from sharing a room or suite, there are others that encourage it. And often, fancy-sounding categories such as the “Two-Bedroom Park View Room” or the “Kennedy Suite” can actually wind up being less expensive than booking several rooms in more basic categories. So whether you’re traveling with the fam or planning a group getaway, here are five U.S. hotels that will let you pack in a whole gang of guests.

Trump International Hotel And Tower, New York

Trump International

The Room: Two Bedroom Park View

An ostentatiously luxurious hotel with a supremely well-trained staff, and huge, elegant rooms, this Trump boasts a fabulous location at Columbus Circle. The luxe Two-Bedroom Park View Suite, not surprisingly, overlooks Central Park and has two spacious bedrooms, one with a king bed and the other with a queen. The suite fits up to six adults and feature gorgeous decor, including crystal chandeliers, and a small — yet fully equipped — kitchen.

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Sure, your wedding day may be the most memorable day of your life, but there’s still plenty of pressure for the precursor proposal to be a noteworthy occasion. It can be an intimidating undertaking, and many choose to pop the question in a special place so the whole experience feels particularly luxe. Fortunately, numerous hotels have picked up on both the need for something special and the need for a little help; from offering proposal packages with diamonds already included, to lending a helping hand with customized engagement plans, these six resorts go the extra mile in (almost) guaranteeing engagement success.

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City

Nestled in the heart of Old Quebec, the Fairmont Le Chateau has lured celebrities and reality show stars with its charm. It was even the spot where NFL Quarterback Jesse Palmer and his lady love Tara enjoyed a date on ABC’s The Bachelor. This seductive resort provides breathtaking pop-the-question scenic backdrops of the St.Lawrence River. Toast your happily-ever-after at the hotel’s wine and cheese bar before heading back to the luxurious Van Horne suite for a night to remember.

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Patriotic fever is in full swing; and luckily, at hotels across the country, guests don’t have to miss out on the action. In fact, the red-white-and-blue festivities can come right to them! The six hotels we’ve selected as the most patriotic of them all have a special love for Old Glory — and want to celebrate just as much as you do. From decking out their digs in American Flags galore, to elaborate 4th of July annual BBQs, to offering up a front row seat for viewing the best fireworks in the country — these hotels get our vote as some of the nation’s top spots to celebrate.

The Jefferson, Washington DC

This Washington D.C. hotel scores bragging rights when it comes to its patriotic roots. The hotel is named after Declaration-drafter Thomas Jefferson and offers holiday packages that even John Hancock would sign off on. Guests can jumpstart their morning with coffee – and a chat with the in-house historian — before perusing the hotel’s collection of Jefferson autographed documents. Guests can then enjoy a self-guided tour of Jeffersonian statues around the city. The hotel “We Salute You” package also offers great military discounts.

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While a nautical theme can make for fun hotel decor all year round, we can’t help but enjoy it a little more in the summer when the timing feels particularly fitting. After all, during warmer months we love the idea of being out on the open seas, wind in our hair… until we think about how crowded and gross cruise ships can actually be. Considering the many recent mishaps on ships and boats — some of which actually proved to be quite dangerous — as of late, we’d rather enjoy a nautical theme from dry land, thank you very much. Fortunately, we’ve visited plenty of hotels that make you feel like you’re first mate — without actually having to set sail.

Amstel Botel, Amsterdam

Amstel Botel

The 175-room Amstel Botel, a former river cruiser converted to a floating hotel, sits by the industrial NDSM wharf, a growing outpost of Amsterdam’s underground art scene. The Botel is decorated like a European ferry, and is a no-frills budget-friendly option for visitors. Central Amsterdam is a 15-minute free ferry ride away. Kids may enjoy the experience of staying on a boat, but the property is more popular with value-minded couples and groups. Luxury seekers and visitors hoping for a charming European hotel should look elsewhere, but those searching for a boat-like vibe without having to leave the dock will find the nautical decor fun and charming.

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When you’re on vacation, you want to feel pampered. But some hotels — especially those that are uber-crowded or on the budget end — can make you feel like just another faceless visitor. Fortunately, we’ve had the luxury of staying at some spots where they really roll out the red carpet for all guests. In fact, it can be so wonderful — and yet, unexpected — that we’ve wondered if they thought we were members of the royal family! Here’s a roundup of majestic hotels that aim to make guests feel as noble as the Duchess of Cambridge. After a visit, we swear you’ll be one step closer to becoming a newly minted monarch. Or at least, you’ll feel like it.

The Fairmont San Francisco

The luxurious Fairmont hotel is located in the heart of San Francisco and is a top choice among politicians and rock stars. Sure, many US Presidents have stayed here — but you don’t need a 1600 Pennsylvania Ave address to join the hotel’s prestigious President’s Club. Hotel guests can request a free membership and, in turn, get their royal hindness kissed from the moment of arrival. Members gain access to a private reception desk, the hotel fitness club, use of TaylorMade golf clubs, and other free services.

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It’s officially slugger season and the Oyster gang can’t wait to check out a game. Although we may be divided between the Yanks and the Mets here in NYC, one thing we all can agree on is that there’s nothing quite like a spring day at the ballpark. And we’re sure that from coast to coast, other ball fans are donning their jerseys and prepping their gloves for some fly ball action at their own home stadiums. But which cities are the best for ballplayers and fans alike? Where are the fans most loyal, and the stadium just right? Now granted, this is a question that could illicit more fights than the upcoming Dodgers versus Giants showdown in October. But we’re brave enough to give it a go… Here are Oyster’s eight favorite cities for baseball, as well as the MVP hotels nearby. Batter up!

1. St. Louis 

st louis

If there ever was an ideal baseball city, St. Louis would be it. It’s not just that the Cardinals’ fans are fantastic, or that they consistently sell out their stadium to cheer on the home team. It’s not just that the team itself — 2013′s World Series runner-up — is consistently one of the best in the league. And it’s not just that Busch Stadium III is one of the most gorgeous around, or that management in St. Louis is superb. It’s all those things rolled into one big baseball diamond.

Stay: Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark

Not just any hotel in St. Louis can get away with using the word “Ballpark” in the name, but the Hilton — with its unmatched view of Busch Stadium — rightfully claims the moniker. Plus, the trendy rooftop bar boasts 360-degree views, ideal for game nights.

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