Chicago

America’s Most Haunted Bars

by Guest on October 23, 2014

This post comes from our partners at Travel + Leisure

Here’s one way to ensure a bar will be haunted: open it in a former morgue. That’s the case with Captain Tony’s Saloon in Key West, FL, also a former speakeasy, where you may find yourself sipping gin and tonic next to a grave—or a ghost.

“Ghosts tend to go to places they frequented when they were alive,” says California-based Loyd Auerbach, author of A Paranormal Casebook: Ghost Hunting in the New Millennium. “Consequently, places like bars, where people gather for social reasons or for other personal reasons, are often the target sites for the disembodied.”

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Every city seems to have a haunted bar and an intriguing story behind it. The ghostly presence can often be traced back to an erstwhile love affair or, sadly, the result of a grizzly murder. In Austin, TX, the victim of a bar fight has been causing mischief at The Tavern for decades, changing the TV channels or banging dishes in the kitchen. And outside of Las Vegas, a gambler killed when caught cheating still roams the poker tables at Pioneer Saloon.

Still, some ghost tales are taller than others. Jim Fassbinder, who leads ghost tours in San Francisco, says: “There’s a bunch of haunted bar stories out there mostly promoted by barkeeps who know a well-told ghost story keeps ’em drinkin’ and gets the barkeep a tip.”

Not so at Stone’s Public House in Massachusetts, where paranormal experts confirmed eerie happenings the owner had noticed. It’s one of our picks for the most haunted bars in the nation—and you might want to consider a nice tip, after all, if you want to keep the resident spirits happy.

See tons of photos of haunted bars after the jump >>

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It’s almost November, which has us thinking about elections and presidents – even if that vote is a couple of years away. While leading the country is one of the harder jobs you can have, it does come with a few perks. We imagine the extensive traveling is exhausting, but at least it gives presidents the chance to see some amazing places and stay in some of the world’s most luxurious hotels: Four-poster beds, dining rooms, and spacious bathrooms are always on the checklist. We’ve been lucky enough to get to peek inside some of these fabulous properties and their stunning suites – that we can only dream about. Here are 12 hotels throughout the United States and abroad where former U.S. presidents (and the current one!) have checked in; if you can’t book one of these grand rooms, you can at least look through our thousands of photos of places that presidents from William Howard Taft to Barack Obama have made their short-term home.

Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Palace Hotel

Boasting ample turn-of-the-20th-century elegance and 550 rooms on eight floors (we’re digging these stately corridors), the Palace is aptly named — it is indeed palatial. But other than a nice indoor pool and an elaborate Sunday brunch, few features distinguish this business-oriented Starwood from its competitors. Expect, of course, that eight U.S. presidents have visited the Palace, including both Roosevelts and Warren G. Harding. The hotel’s Presidential Suite is truly worthy of a country’s leader, featuring antique furnishings like marble-lined fireplaces, a dining room table and chairs, and a gorgeous wooden piano.

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Whether it’s a sweet sixteen, wedding, or 50th anniversary, events held in a ballroom evoke luxury. Gorgeous crystal chandeliers, high ceilings, and ornate gold drapes are just a few things that come to mind when picturing a ballroom; it’s clear why these stunning spaces are popular choices when hosting a soiree. From grand rooms that fit hundreds of people, to smaller spaces designed for more intimate — yet equally impressive — gatherings, the following 12 hotels are amazing choices — as long as you’re willing to pay up, of course.

Harbour Grand Hong Kong

Harbour Grand Hong Kong

The Harbour Grand impresses guests upon entry. The massive marble lobby with huge chandeliers is imposing, and the stately, yet modern, look continues throughout the hotel. Rooms here are sexy and up-to-date, with none of the stuffy grandeur of some other luxury hotels in Hong Kong. Simple, sexy decor with peek-a-boo bathrooms, large sepia-toned wall photos behind the headboards, and views of the harbor give the rooms a sophisticated vibe. Overall this 828-room mega-hotel is a gorgeous option, complete with with four full restaurants, a fitness center, and a spa. The Grand Ballroom shown above is often used for weddings and can fit 500 people banquet-style. The high ceilings, stunning chandeliers, and high-tech features — like audio/video projectors and special light effects — make it a truly gorgeous event space.

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Even though it’s a few months away from Valentine’s Day, we’re always looking for ways to have a romantic weekend — especially a romantic long weekend. And thanks to Columbus Day, we have the perfect opportunity coming right up. One of the best (and easiest…and least expensive) ways to turn up the heat is to just stay put in your own city — but head to a luxurious hotel with features designed to heighten the romance. Staycations with a significant other can be the perfect way to experience some of the best properties your city has to offer; the true creme de la creme of your town is almost guaranteed to have cozy rooms, a spa, and a high-quality restaurant or two. At the twelve hotels that make our list, locals/guests won’t need to leave the property — and won’t want to — with all the couple-centric features. And if you don’t live in one of these locales, fear not; you can always hop in a car or on a plane (although the “inexpensive” aspect might get knocked out).

New York City: The Greenwich Hotel

Greenwich Hotel

This virtually flawless 88-room TriBeCa hotel (opened in 2008 by Robert de Niro, among others) offers large, homey rooms, breathtaking design, and very attentive service. Even better: free Wi-Fi; free minibar snacks; and free Wii video games by request are also available. The Greenwich feels like a lush oasis in the middle of the once-industrial neighborhood, with a plant-filled courtyard, the luxurious Shibui spa, and an underground, lantern-lit pool beneath a 250-year-old Japanese farmhouse roof. The exceptional rooms, each uniquely designed to evoke an Italian home, and the hip rustic Italian restaurant, Locanda Verde, complete the romantic experience. Plus, you can skip the lengthy wait for a reservation at the restaurant and just order it up for room service!

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Suburbia often gets overlooked, especially by those planning a vacation – often an adventurous vacation purposely away from the cookie cutter homes and manicured lawns that the suburbs are known for. But sometimes, a touch of the familiar can be reassuring when exploring a new city. And hotels outside the city limits — but near enough at hand to get to all of the action with ease — usually come at a fraction of the cost of their city neighbors. In fact, some of Oyster’s favorite hotels call the suburbs home. From New York City to London and beyond, we have found charming hotel options outside of the major city limits that are just waiting to welcome you with open arms and suburban flair. (Trust us, it exists. See for yourself below.)

1. The Box House Hotel
Located in a suburb of: New York City

box house

New Yorkers are used to commuting. The suburbs give the great isle of Manhattan a chance to really spread out and breathe — as much as one can in one of the five boroughs. Vacationers looking to pinch a few pennies and experience another side of the City that Never Sleeps should explore Manhattan’s neighbors. And for a real dose of Brooklyn, what many (hipsters) consider the best corner of NYC, it doesn’t get more authentic than The Box House Hotel. This former door factory houses 57 apartment-style rooms designed by local Brooklynite Kip Jacobs, who is a friend of the owners. The spacious rooms and lofts (some sleep six) attract families, couples and those conducting business — mostly film crews. Modern kitchens and free extras include bottled water and coffee, rides within a mile-and-a-half radius, and use of the stylish fitness center. This is a hidden gem for those seeking breathing room and easy access to Manhattan. 

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Walk around any college campus at the beginning of a new school year, and you’ll feel the energy and excitement. (Trust us. We walk through Washington Square Park every morning on the way to our Oyster offices.) A new year brings new opportunities; it’s a fresh start and a blank slate, and particularly at the beginning of the school year, it feels like anything is possible — and it is! For all of us working here at Oyster, this optimistic attitude is something we miss about our college years. So, we put our nostalgia to good use and came up with a pretty awesome list of some pretty awesome college towns. Here are 10 college towns that’ll have you thinking about hitting the books once again.

Berkeley, California

UC Berkeley

Photo Credit: John Morgan

Welcome to Berkeley, a place with mere perfect weather that’s teeming with history and culture – and corner coffee shops. It also just so happens to be home to the oldest campus in the University of California system — you guessed it, University of California Berkeley. Whether you’re looking for gourmet vegan dining, a world-renowned theatrical performance, or serious city nightlife (hello, San Francisco), you’ll find it in Berkeley.

Where to Stay: Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel

Visitors to Berkeley might want to stay in nearby San Francisco (only 30 minutes by car) for convenience. Because of its location in a tourist-friendly neighborhood, The Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel is a great option for those exploring the area.

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Lights, camera, action! Over the last several decades, hotels have played important roles in the film industry. Some iconic scenes — like Julia Roberts and Richard Gere bathing in Pretty Woman – will forever be a part of cinematic history and were actually filmed at hotels, instead of on sound stages. Most hotels that make it to the big screen are (for obvious reasons) primarily in Los Angeles and New York, but many others across the country get scouted to become shooting locations as well. So we’ve found 9 hotels all over that have been prominently featured in movies. Even if you never become a movie star yourself, you can at least visit these properties and feel like you’re walking through a film set. And sure, you’ll happily sign a few autographs.

Beverly Wilshire Beverly Hills – A Four Seasons Hotel

Beverly Wilshire

Let’s start with the iconic Beverly Wilshire – a top luxury pick for business or leisure, families or couples. With beautiful guest rooms, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, and a great spa, pool, and fitness center — plus doting Four Seasons service, it’s a classic five-star property. The hotel was featured prominently in the 1990 film Pretty Woman and it’s certainly proud of this; you can even borrow one of the many DVD copies from the concierge’s library. In the film, Julia Roberts plays Vivian Ward, a Hollywood prostitute who’s hired by Richard Gere’s wealthy businessman character. Their relationship develops over their week-long stay in the Presidential Suite at the hotel. From the couple soaking in the suite’s luxurious tub to Vivian walking through the lobby with numerous bags from shopping on nearby Rodeo Drive, the hotel received a lot of screen time in the classic rom-com.

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The summertime beach vacation is a much-awaited annual tradition for many. As soon as the weather turns warm, families, couples, and singles alike, flock to shorelines near and far.  Don’t get us wrong — the beach will always hold a special place in our hearts. But when sandy toes and sunburn get to be too much, here are ten great alternatives to the typical beach getaway.

1. Bluffton, South Carolina 

Situated along the May River and bursting with Southern charm, Bluffton might make you feel as though you’ve been transported into a Nicholas Sparks novel. It’s part of a peaceful, beautiful region along the South Carolina coast known as Carolina Lowcountry, where salty marshes meet mossy forests. The Palmetto Bluff real estate development features a small, picturesque village, private homes, an 18-hole golf course, numerous recreation facilities, and a beautiful hotel.

Where to Stay: The Inn at Palmetto Bluff

Stay at the beautiful hotel, of course! The Inn at Palmetto Bluff provides the ultimate Coastal Carolina retreat with all the trimmings…think wrap around porches, rocking chairs, and tons of Spanish moss.  After your first leisurely stroll along historic River Road, you’ll think a quiet winding river really may be better than a packed sandy beach.

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The Golden Age of Hollywood has come and gone. While Los Angeles once had a firm grip on all film-related business — movie and television alike — the industry has expanded well beyond the Hollywood Hills. In the last forty years especially, we’ve seen emerging markets in Louisiana, Toronto, and Atlanta increasingly cut into La-La Land’s share of the filming world. Where Hollywood once hosted a commanding 64 percent of the live-action films being made in the early 2000s, today that figure has dropped to around eight percent, according to a study by FilmLA. It’s a big departure from the norm — and it is only good news for people looking to get their fifteen minutes in front of the camera. We’ve rounded up the top six destinations outside of Los Angeles for aspiring actors to book their first gig, or adoring fans to potentially score some time as an extra. And we’ve included some movie star-worthy accommodations in each spot as well.

1. New York City 

nyc

This may seem like a no-brainer, but in reality NYC only became a film industry hot spot in the 1970s when prolific directors Martin Scorcese and Woody Allen shifted their films’ focus to the Big Apple. Since then, NYC has become the clear challenger to Los Angeles’ filming supremacy. Just this year, NYC officially surpassed Hollywood for the number of TV pilots filmed in town, with Vancouver, Toronto, and Atlanta slowly creeping up behind the two industry giants. This week alone HBO’s Martin Scorcese-directed drama The Long Play begins filming its pilot in the city, as do over sixty other returning network programs. USA’s White Collar, CBS’s Person of Interest, Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, and HBO’s Girls are just some of the projects currently in play across the five boroughs. Plus, NYC has one thing Los Angeles doesn’t when it comes to acting: the Great White Way. For actors looking to pursue a career on stage, there is nowhere else to be but Broadway. Daniel Radcliffe and Neil Patrick Harris are both currently headlining shows, and Breaking Bad’s Brian Cranston just wrapped All the Way, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Play.

Stay: Mercer Hotel

The Mercer‘s 75 loft-style guest rooms, beautiful staff, personalized service and swanky SoHo location make it a go-to choice for celebrities and other fashionable members of the entertainment industry — from Leonardo DiCaprio, to fashion designer Calvin Klein, to oddball rock star Marilyn Manson, to Russell Crowe (who made headlines in 2005 for allegedly throwing a telephone at a Mercer check-in clerk). If you want to stay in a movie star-approved hotel, you can’t do much better. 

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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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