Chicago

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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Okay, as hotel experts we love traveling; we really, really love it. But even for us, saying goodbye to our side of the bed, our cups in the kitchen, our own personal brand of snack food stashed in the fridge, and all those other things that make our abode “homey” can be bittersweet. Thankfully, many hotels are stepping up their game when it comes to providing guests with their creature comforts of choice. From in-room kitchens to roaring fireplaces, these hotels come equipped with tons of great amenities to make you feel like you never walked out your front door — and with these amenities come all the fun perks inherent of a vacation. So fear not the unknown, these homey hotels are awaiting your stay with open arms and familiar treats.

1. Villa D’ Citta, Chicago 

villa d citta

The six-room Villa D’ Citta is a cozy, romantic bed-and-breakfast located in the residential neighborhood of Lincoln Park. Its homey features are all charming: an outdoor whirlpool and sun deck, a brick courtyard with a barbecue, and a large communal kitchen. The bright, luxurious rooms have big flat-screen TVs and hardwood floors, and some come complete with fireplaces.

Homiest Feature: The communal kitchen comes fully stocked with all of the snacks you can imagine, and the outdoor patio features a barbecue grill perfect for warm summer nights.  Read More »

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It’s a tradition to wine and dine your significant other on Valentine’s Day for a reason; after all, the way to a man’s heart (and many women’s as well) is through his stomach, and a candlelit meal with plenty of tasty treats and booze can be just the thing to kick off a romantic evening. With the amorous holiday falling on a Friday this year, there’s even more reason to celebrate in style, as plenty of delicious hotel restaurants are featuring special menus for the occasion. Here are the seven most romantic hotel restaurants across the U.S. for this Valentine’s Day.

Cleo at The Redbury at Hollywood and Vine, Los Angeles

redbury Aptly located at Hollywood and Vine, the Redbury is an eclectic boutique hotel that attracts a young, and sometimes famous, clientele. Along with the spacious, apartment-style rooms, the on-site Mediterranean restaurant, Cleo, is a major draw; the warm, cozy space serves tasty small plates and signature cocktails. For Valentine’s Day the restaurant is offering a prix fixe menu at $65 per person which includes mezze for the table followed by a choice of second course and entree. Dessert is a sexy flourless chocolate cake with roasted banana, chocolate parfait, and chili doughnuts.

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New Year’s Eve is often a pricey proposition – but if you love to party, it’s a prime opportunity to dance your tail off at some of the country’s hottest clubs. And if you’re traveling to a major city for a night on the town, note that there are plenty of hotels with truly fantastic party spots right on-site. When you’re ready to stumble home to bed after ringing in the New Year, all you’ll have to do is head upstairs. So go ahead — take a look at some of our favorite party-hearty hotel options for New Year’s Eve.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles

The Hollywood Roosevelt is home to some of the most popular celebrity haunts in L.A., an impressive accomplishment in a town that has its fair share of celebrity haunts. The New Year’s Eve bash will take place at Tropicana Bar, which is centered around the chic pool area. Read More »

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Many people will spend the holidays at home or visiting family, but for some, it has become tradition to spend the time on vacation. Just because you’re staying in a hotel doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on holiday cheer; in fact, these amazing holiday hotels around the globe go above and beyond to spread the holiday spirit. Think: welcome mugs of hot chocolate, elaborate Christmas decorations, visits from Santa, carol singing, and more. Feeling Christmas-y yet?

New York Palace, New York City

The New York Palace, New York CityThe New York Palace is one of the best hotels for enjoying Christmas in New York City. It offers a prime location right next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (which has Christmas masses) and about a block away from the giant tree and famous skating rink at Rockefeller Center. It also has guards in toy-soldier-style uniforms next to the stunning outdoor Christmas tree (they are happy to pose for photos!) and a Nutcracker brunch at Villard Michel Richard. Read More »

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A waterfront vacation doesn’t have to mean a trip to the beach. River locales, such as charming San Antonio or rugged Snoqualmie, offer plenty of the same draws as oceans and lakes. Flowing past some of America’s best cities, around mountain ranges, and through desserts, these rivers are the optimal alternative vacation spots for boating, fishing, hiking, and more while on vacation. So get ready to dive into our favorite river destinations.

1. May River in Bluffton, South Carolina 

The May River is just one corner of gorgeous Carolina Lowcountry.

Carolina Lowcountry is a truly other-worldly corner of the United States. Here, salty marshes and mossy forests are connected by scenic waterways. The May, Cooper, and New Rivers wind through the region’s haunting landscapes, providing visitors with unique ways to soak in the beauty of the region. Boating and kayaking are popular, especially since bottlenose dolphins are common in this area. You can also go fishing, crabbing, or shrimping.

STAY:  The Inn at Palmetto Bluff

This “inn” in Carolina Lowcountry is really more akin to a sprawling estate, offering a range of recreational facilities, including golf, bicycling, tennis, croquet, kayaking, and swimming; plus, the luxury spa is highly acclaimed. Read More »

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The marriage of travel and food has been a long and happy one. For foodies, a destination isn’t going to rank as a favorite unless its cuisine — be it Mexican food in San Diego, seafood in Seattle, or the hodgepodge of deliciousness that is New York –  is something special. For us, that logic applies equally to the hotels where you stay within a city: not just hotels with great restaurants, but places that incorporate gourmet treats into the overall hotel experience. These hotels we love offer awesome foodie freebies, from decadent a la carte breafkasts to free nightly wine hours. Talk about tasty extras.

A la carte breakfast

The free a la carte breakfast at Costa Rica's Gaia Hotel and Reserve is worth writing home about.

The free a la carte breakfast at Costa Rica's Gaia Hotel and Reserve is worth writing home about.

Spotlight On: Gaia Hotel and Reserve, Costa Rica

Free hotel breakfasts aren’t exactly a rarity, but they are usually comprised of cereals, fruit, and, if you’re lucky, some moderately edible scrambled eggs. Not so at Gaia Hotel and Reserve, where the free breakfast is a gourmet a la carte affair. Menu items include Eggs Benedict, Belgian Waffles, Italian Egg White Frittata, Vanilla and Mango Pancakes, a Costa Rican Breafkast, and more. And the freebies don’t stop there: The room rate also includes a short spa treatment.

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Planning a patriotic getaway this 4th of July weekend? These hotels are super convenient to the holiday action — whether you’re planning a trip to Lady Liberty or planning to catch one of the country’s many spectacular fireworks shows.

Ink 48, New York City

Ink 48, New York City

Ink 48, New York City

Ink 48 (named for its location on 48th Street in New York City) is close to the river and has a beautiful rooftop offering partial views of the 4th of July fireworks (shown from 24th to 40th streets). Tickets to its private 4th of July reception are $200 plus fees, but that includes an open bar, hors d’oeuvres, and live DJ music. Its free wine receptions, swanky spa, and pet-friendly features make it a great place to stay as well. Read More »

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Summer is (unofficially) here, and tons of travelers will be heading coast to coast to visit some of the most iconic city spots in the country. From the Brooklyn Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge, from the Santa Monica Pier to the Atlantic City Boardwalk, we’ll give you the dish on our favorite landmarks (and hotels!) along the way. So grab your cameras and fill up on gas, we’ve got plenty of great photo-ops ahead!

Visit: The Brooklyn Bridge in New York City

The Brooklyn Bridge turned 130 years old this month.

New York is filled with plenty of must-see attractions, but this year it’s all about the Brooklyn Bridge. The iconic structure has appeared in countless movies, TV shows, and books, and this May it celebrated its 130th birthday. Once the longest suspension bridges in the world, this National Historic Landmark stands as a modern wonder of engineering and architecture.

Stay: New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge

While most Manhattanites snicker at the thought of tourists staying in Brooklyn, this spacious Marriott is conveniently located a few blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as within walking distance of nine subway lines that lead right through the heart of the city. Read More »

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Since its birth, rock and roll and hotels have gone hand in hand. Whether it involves bands hitting the road on tour, infamously trashing a suite, or taking up temporary residence while working on an album, there’s an unmistakably inspirational quality to booking a room and letting loose. Luckily, a few hotels understand this relationship and offer their guests the ability to live like a rock star with some over-the-top music amenities. We strapped on our Stratocaster and hit the road to show you the hotel rooms bound to make music fans weak in the knees.

“You Spin Me Right Round (Like A Record)”: Hotel Saint Cecilia

Front Desk at the Hotel Saint Cecilia

Austin is a city that’s known for its hip music scene and hip crowds. It’s not surprising, then, that the Hotel Saint Cecilia has done away with a traditional front desk in favor of a cool collection of vinyl records and a turntable that guests are free to use. (The hotel is named after the patron saint of music and poetry, after all.) In-room record players and iPod docks make it easy to take the party back to your room, where decor reflects the artistic lifestyle Austin loves to support.

“Two Turntables And A Microphone”: Ace Hotel NY

Medium Room at the Ace Hotel NY

Like the Hotel Saint Cecilia, the Ace Hotel NY harkens back to a time when vinyl was king. Rooms have curated touches like Music Hall turntables with a vinyl library that allows guests to put their own spin (ha!) on their in-room entertainment.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”: Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

By now, most people are familiar with the Hard Rock chain’s style of decorating their properties with rock memorabilia and photographs, and this hotel is no different. What sets it apart is the “picks.” program, which allows guests to test-drive Strats, Telecasters and other “surprise” models in the comfort of their rooms. Staff will deliver the ax (or bass) of your choice to your room, along with an amp and headphones so you can rock out without damaging your neighbors’ eardrums. You can find further inspiration in the décor: each floor is themed after a different artist, from Madonna to John Lennon. Just make sure you don’t pull a full rock star moment and trash your room.

“It Needs More Cowbell!!!”: Geejam

Recording Studio at the Geejam

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to lay down tracks. Luckily, the Geejam agrees: There’s a fully functional recording studio on-site. Producer-turned-hotelier Jon Baker built the studio back when the resort was a secluded, private artists’ retreat. Some serious notables have laid down tracks here, including Bjork, Common, the Gorillaz, and India.Arie. The focus on music carries throughout the property — eclectic reggae music plays in public areas — all the way back to the rooms themselves. All rooms are musically themed suites and villas with names like the Ska Suite or the Drum and Bass Suite, featuring plenty of rock-inspired artwork. All suites come stocked with high-tech entertainment systems including iPod docks and AppleTVs that are preloaded with an impressive selection of reggae and soul music.

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