Boutique Hotels

An old fable tells the tale of the city mouse and the country mouse (or the city oyster and the country oyster in our case — we know, it’s a bit of a stretch). The story ends with a precautionary warning: cities are crowded, dangerous, and unsavory. But, here at Oyster, we’ve never met a city we didn’t like! Though they may be a bit busier than the countryside, cities are hubs of history, culture, and entertainment. So we suggest you leave the quiet country behind and give the city a whirl. Here are eight megacities (cities with populations of over 10 million people) we can’t get enough of.

New York

new york

Some call it the Big Apple, others the “City That Never Sleeps,” but no matter its name, New York is truly one of the greatest cities in the world. With a population of nearly 24 million people, New York’s magnitude may at first seem daunting, but this city’s crowds are part of its splendor. The large population is incredibly diverse, which means visitors have access to every type of restaurant, bar, and entertainment venue imaginable. Amongst innumerable, unique neighborhoods, visitors will discover iconic skyscrapers, world class museums, fantastic shopping, and all around vibrancy.

Where to Stay: Mandarin Oriental, New York

The Mandarin Oriental is located just across the street from the lively Columbus Circle. With decadent, yet sleek ,decor and sweeping views of Central Park, the Mandarin Oriental is a wise choice for guests seeking a more modern twist on classic upscale choices like The Plaza or The Pierre.

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Honeymoons, anniversaries, or just weekends away can be made all the more romantic with a bottle of champagne for drinking and a hot tub for soaking. But it can kinda kill the mood if you have to share the whirlpool with other hotel guests, or if it’s nestled up alongside a pool teeming with splashing tots. That’s why we’ve found some hotels that offer private whirlpools — either in luxurious bathrooms or on lovely wooden decks — in various room types so your jetted bath time won’t be disturbed. Here are our 11 favorites — we just couldn’t narrow it down to 10.

The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui

Fairmont Kea Lani Maui

Wailea’s aptly named Fairmont Kea Lani is a “white heaven” indeed — its 450 units sit on a 22-acre beachfront property that includes four pools, four restaurants and one lounge, access to world-class golf, some of Maui’s largest rooms, and a relentless dedication to service that rivals the nearby Four Seasons. The Two Bedroom Villa pictured above is definitely for deep-pocketed patrons that want a romantic getaway. The spacious villa has a separate living and dining room area, but its most alluring feature is the terrace with a private jetted pool and gorgeous views of the water.

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Whether you’re a total pro or a complete amateur, there’s nothing quite like the rush of surfing. And for us here at Oyster, there’s nothing quite like the rush of finding the perfect hotel either. So we’ve combined these two awesome feelings to come up with nine amazing surf destinations…and some pretty great hotels to go with ‘em.

Honolulu

Sunset-Surfing-in-Waikiki-Oahu-Hawaii

World famous Waikiki Beach is the perfect place to catch a wave. You won’t be alone, however, as this sandy stretch receives more than four millions visitors every year. Waikiki abounds with surf shops and instructors, making it easy for pros to brush up on their skills and first timers to learn the tricks of the trade.

Where to Stay: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa

When it opened its doors in 1901, the Moana Surfrider was Waikiki’s first hotel. Now that it shares the spotlight with a multitude of others, guests will appreciate Moana’s old-world ambiance. Though the hotel is often packed with people, it sits on one of the nicest stretches of Waikiki Beach, perfect for surfers and non-surfers alike.

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We’re always looking for an excuse to go on vacation, and thanks in large part to pregnant celebrities, “babymoons” are becoming a very real thing. Basically considered a rite of passage — much like a honeymoon or an anniversary getaway — babymoons are trips that couples take when expecting, and they usually involve plenty of time for relaxing on the beach, in the spa, and by the pool while sipping (virgin) cocktails. Most celebs make for the Caribbean to celebrate their incoming spawn, but some also stay stateside and even go somewhere their little nugget might eventually enjoy. (Holly Madison took her bump to Disney!) So if you’ve got a baby on board (or not!), here are six celebrity-approved babymoon hotels. And if you know anything about celebrities, you know these spots are downright gorgeous.

The Hotel: Jade Mountain Resort, St. Lucia

Jade Mountain

The Celebrity: Vanessa Lachey

Just last week, Vanessa announced that she and husband Nick Lachey are expecting baby number two — a sweet little girl to join older brother Camden. We wouldn’t be surprised if the duo celebrates the news by returning to Jade Mountain, where they escaped for their first babymoon back in 2012. Getting to the secluded St. Lucia resort can be tedious – especially for a pregnant person – but its organic cuisine doting service, unwavering silence (no TVs, radios, or children — sorry, Camden!), and extraordinary design (which means breathtaking views) make the long journey worthwhile.

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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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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

People have long questioned the whole “the bigger, the better” theory. Most have concluded that it really depends on the circumstances, and we’d have to concur. After all, in our area of expertise (hotels, of course), sometimes a megaresort — packed with activities, restaurants, and enough rooms to host hundreds of reunions at one time — is just what we’re looking for. Other times, we seek the privacy and tranquil vibe of a smaller hotel. And sometimes, we find that the most charming stays are those in absolutely itsy bitsy hotels — boutique properties tucked away in historic townhomes or on the top floors of unassuming edifices. So while even a hotel with nearly 100 rooms can be considered a boutique property, the tiny hotels that make this list all have just four rooms or fewer. Take a peek inside these intimate getaways to discover some truly unique stays.

Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam

Bed and Breakfast

Number of Rooms: Three

The picturesque, off-the-beaten-track Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam is charm itself, located on a leafy canal with picturesque views of traditional canal houses and bridges in a residential area away from throngs of tourists. Inside and out, the Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam is set apart by the owners’ attention to detail. The little added touches such as fresh flowers, free afternoon cakes, chocolates on the pillows, and a carafe of black currant gin in each guest’s room upon arrival help make this B&B an intimate, special spot.

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Summertime always gets us nostalgic, particularly when we think back to our busy days and peaceful nights spent at summer camp. Everything was just simpler then, right? Counselors chose the activities, the kitchen staff provided all the grub, and at night the soft sounds of nature — plus the fact that you were dead-tired from the day’s adventures — put you right to sleep. Well, you may be all grown up now, but you can still relive those days — and bonus: no need for matching uniforms. When summer was just beginning to hint its arrival, we told you about the best hotels stateside for pitching a tent (and we threw in a Botswana property just for good measure). So this time, we’re focusing solely on international destinations where you can experience a new kind of summer camp-like getaway that’s adults-friendly (and most are kid-friendly, too). Check out our top picks for outdoorsy, campy properties outside the U.S.

Camping Village Rochette, Tuscany

Camping Village Rochette

Billed as a high-end camping village, this property has some fun amenities — a striking pool, a Turkish bath, and tennis courts — with bungalows of various sizes spread out over a large wooded area about 500 meters from the beach. Some of the newer, larger bungalows are on the luxurious side; ones at lower price points are a little on the shabby end (although they may be more reminiscent of a summer camp stay than the others). The property offers numerous play areas for kids, as well as daytime and nighttime activities, and it has an on-site market so guests can make use of the in-room kitchens. The hotel also provides a shuttle to the nearby seaside town of Castiglione della Pescaia.

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Who doesn’t love a girls’ trip? A fun getaway with a group of your girlfriends is the perfect way to get together and reconnect, whether you all live in cities across the country or in the same neighborhood. Hey, even guys love a girls’ trip! For those who are left at home, it means more time in control of the remote; for those in the visited destinations, it simply means more odds of meeting someone special (at least temporarily so). After visiting countless hotels and resorts all over the world, we’ve seen quite a few that are suited for that precious — and always entertaining — time spent with girlfriends. No matter if your gang likes to shop till you drop or roast marshmallows while camping, we’ve rounded up nine hotels that will suit your style.

For Relaxing at the Spa: Travaasa Austin

Spa Austin

Travaasa Austin is set on its own nature preserve on a hilltop amid forested canyons, 20 miles west of downtown Austin. Its 72 rooms are housed in seven buildings built on three different levels, with correspondingly different views from their balconies. Hiking trails, an infinity-edge pool enclosed by a wooden deck, a luxurious spa, and a restaurant with panoramic views are just some of the amenities providing inspiration and relaxation for visitors. The tranquil spa has a sauna and hot tub and uses only organic, bioenergetic products for personal treatments. The farm-to-face pumpkin facial and lavender vanilla hand treatment are just a few unique options they offer. You and your girlfriends will easily relax and decompress in this setting — and if you’re combining a little relaxation with a bachelorette party, Austin has quickly become one of the most popular spots in the U.S. for pre-nuptial soirees.

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We’re celebrating all kinds of culinary holidays at the Oyster offices this week, and of course we can’t turn down an excuse to chow down on a hot dog — loaded with the works, please.  So in honor of today being National Hot Dog Day, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite spots across the states to feast on this American staple. Sorry, baseball game not included.

The Varsity, Atlanta

atlanta the varsity

Established in 1928, The Varsity has since opened numerous outposts around Atlanta to accommodate the continuously growing demand for its delicious hot dogs. An array of condiments are available, but it seems the locals like to top their dogs with some cool coleslaw. The downtown location in particular is always lively, and the W Atlanta puts you within easy reach.

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There’s something undeniably sexy about the Mediterranean: The sea breezes, the storied history, the beautiful architecture, the friendly people, the delicious cuisine, and — without a doubt — the sweeping views, of both city and sea, certainly don’t hurt either. We’ve made our way along the winding coast, from Spain’s Costa del Sol to the Greek island of Mykonos, and have found that the Mediterranean can certainly set the scene for romance — as can many of its luxury hotels. Here are a dozen beautiful, romantic properties in the Mediterranean that are perfect for a sexy escape.

Myconian Ambassador Hotel & Thalasso Spa Center, Mykonos

Myconian Ambassador

Myconian Ambassador Hotel & Thalasso Spa Center is a luxury hotel (it’s part of the Relais & Chateaux chain) with 70 rooms overlooking Platis Gialos. Guests seem to love the hotel’s little extras, such as juice at check-in and ice pops by the pool. Guest rooms are chic, white, and airy, and offer ocean views. The hotel has an infinity-edge outdoor pool, and a restaurant serving Mediterranean, Greek, and Mykonos dishes. The indoor spa offers guests a free, daily thalassotherapy session, and the hotel has a fitness center with several weight and cardio machines. Free shuttle service to the airport is available. It’s a short walk to the beautiful Platis Gialos Beach, and Mykonos Town is a 12-minute drive from the hotel.

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