A hotel has “made it” when it’s honored as a Relais & Chateaux property. After all, established in 1954 in France (mais bien sur?!), this exclusive association is made up of just about 500 hotels and restaurants, combined, that introduce guests “to a deeper, truer understanding of the Art of Living.” Or, in much simpler Oyster terms, they show guests a darn good time by providing gorgeous rooms, luxurious facilities and amenities, and top-notch service. We’ve been lucky enough to have stayed in quite a few of these R&C properties (don’t get too jealous — as hotel experts, we also have to stay in spots like this), and here bring you the real creme de la creme of the best of the best.
It makes sense to start in grand Paris, non? With a sweeping private entrance surrounded by green lawns and an impressive fountain, the upscale Saint James is a rare find in Paris — in fact, the 19th century manor is considered the only chateau-hotel in the city. It’s fitting that the hotel is located in the wealthy 16th arrondissement (and yes, valet parking is included). The 48 rooms and suites are large by Paris standards, and decorated in plush luxurious fabrics. But the common areas are more impressive — especially the black and white grand staircase on the main floor. The terrace is a beautiful spot for lunch on a nice summer day. And there’s also a small fitness center, a spa, and a gourmet restaurant. The rates here are steep, but guests who want to experience luxury in Paris (and can afford it) should give the Saint James a look.
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Resorts and mega-hotels certainly have their perks, but few stays can feel as personal or as cozy as one at a quaint bed-and-breakfast. While the level of luxury and service can vary greatly from one B&B to another (some claim the status simply by offering free bagels each morning), we’ve had the good fortune of holing up in some particularly charming bed-and-breakfasts across the states. From romantic rooms that maintain the property’s historic flair to absolutely glorious breakfast buffet spreads, these twelve bed-and-breakfasts offer the very best in the U.S.
The 15-room Savannah Bed and Breakfast Inn was built in 1853 in the southern end of the historical quarter of Savannah and is listed in the local register of Historic Inns. Each room has individual character, but all are decorated in a formal, traditional style with four-poster beds, oriental carpets, and shelves stocked with books. The inn is renovated and bathrooms are modern, but certain period features, like steep, narrow staircases, remain. Breakfast included in the daily rate is excellent and southern-inflected; afternoon tea and evening cookies are also served. Rooms are available in four carriage houses and assorted nearby cottages.
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With the arrival of warm(er) weather, the Great Outdoors have officially begun beckoning and we here at Oyster can’t wait to pack up some supplies and make for the trail head. The United States offers some of the most varied and stunningly gorgeous terrains in the world that make the perfect backdrop for a back-to-nature hike, whether you’re looking for a one-day jaunt or hoping to make a vacation out of the entire experience. No matter your ideal trail or fitness level, we’ve got you covered coast-to-coast with the best trails for an awesome hiking adventure. We’ve even included one spot you’ll have to cross the Pacific to get to! Break out the rucksack and dig up your hiking boots, because here are nine of the best hikes in the United States… as well as the best hotels nearby for each.
Gorgeous trails snake along Kauai’s stunning coast, and the Kalalua Trail is one of the most stunning, with beautiful sweeping vistas from atop the cliffs. Visitors can choose to hike a portion of the trail for a day excursion, or make an extended trip out of it: The entire trail is about 22 miles and can take three to five days to traverse. It’s often regarded as one of the finest — and most varied — coastal trails in the world, with challenging, muddy slopes and steamy tropical temperatures. Hikers can explore Kalalua Valley, home to enchanting waterfalls and lush foliage, or choose to rest up on the beach.
Stay: Hanalei Colony Resort
No TVs or phones here; instead, you get rare oceanfront views and easy access to hiking along the (practically adjacent) Na Pali Coast. The pool is small, housekeeping only comes every third day, and there’s little on offer at the free breakfast aside from bagels. But the 48 two-bedroom condos with full kitchens are worth the downsized features. Read More »
Staying in a New England inn in the snowy wintertime is about as cozy as a vacation gets. If you’re conjuring up images of horse-drawn sleigh rides, historic mansions, elegant antiques, thick oriental rugs, and roaring fireplaces for those chilly nights – well, you’re right on the money. These inns all have charm to spare.
With its warm, urban-chic vibe, Amee Farm isn’t a typical B&B. Rooms look straight out of an interior design magazine, with a near-perfect combination of rustic, warm, quaint, and stylish touches. Wide-planked hardwood floors, comfortable beds with white, soft linens, and interesting antiques are found in all the rooms. Bathrooms have granite showers with rain showerheads and updated fixtures (though not all rooms have private bathrooms). There are no TVs in rooms — only in the common area — but Wi-Fi is free and available throughout. It’s about a 20-minute drive to the slopes at Killington Ski Resort. Read More »
Fall is prime time for visiting a New England B&B. And lovers of bed and breakfasts know that the breakfast is just as crucial as the bed. It’s half of the experience, after all! Some breakfasts are far, far superior to others, so we’ve selected five of our favorite spreads. Get ready to chow down on your next weekend escape.
Union Street Inn, Nantucket
This charming, elegant B&B advertises itself as the only inn on the island to offer a full, hot breakfast (available thanks to its commercial kitchen). Every morning guests can choose between a smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese, plate of fruits and artisan breads, or the daily hot entree. There are also homemade baked goods offered each afternoon. Read More »
With Spring officially upon us, our taste buds are craving some tasty seasonal treats. No longer satisfied with spiced-lattes or hearty soups, our appetites are demanding fresh vegetables and delicate flavors. Fortunately, some of our favorite hotel restaurants are answering this epicurean call. Featuring rotating menus designed to bring the best of the seasons to their diners, these establishments pack a powerful punch in the taste department. Dig into our favorites around the globe…
A spring feast in the Caribbean.
Food at this lush escape — tucked into the seaside cliffs of Negril — is delicious, with the chef incorporating local, seasonal ingredients into meals as often as possible. This is wholesome home-cooking at its best, ranging from traditional jerk chicken to extravagant five-course meals. For Spring, diners should look forward to rock shrimp simmered in a savory coconut sauce, served with seasoned Basmati rice, sautéed calalloo greens and roasted ripe plantains.
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Although the ski slopes are a draw, New England’s cold winters sometimes scare visitors away– but come the warmer months, the region turns into a bustling destination with beachgoers, outdoors enthusiasts, foodies, and even visitors whose only plans are to watch the world go by from a chair on the front porch of a quaint B&B. From Maine to Rhode Island, New England offers endless options for those looking to relax — be it with friends, family, or their better half. We picked out five activities so no matter with whom you’re traveling, you’ll have a great time.
For families: Seal-watching on Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Cape Cod
Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are mostly known for their miles of sandy beaches and famous visitors (we missed you last year, Mr. President). It’s a favorite among couples in need of some R&R, but there is tons for families to do as well. One of the most fun activities when traveling with kids is seal-watching in Chatham, probably the most charming New England beachside community. While seals can be spied from several spots, one of the best places to catch a peek is from the shores of Chatham Lighthouse Beach, which Harbor and Grey seals call home every year when the warm weather sets in. Just remember to stay at a safe distance!
Stay: Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham
Rooms and suites are large enough to fit in a rollaway.
Nestled near the heart of Chatham on 25 scenic acres overlooking Pleasant Bay, Chatham Bars Inn has been a local staple since 1914. The true Cape-Cod style architecture is complemented by lovely interiors to match — upholstered wingback chairs, antique-style turned-leg furnishings, and seafaring decor. But don’t let the term “inn” fool you, this property is big and amenities-packed, with a beautiful spa, modern fitness center, scenic beach, fine dining, private chartered boats, and classic clay tennis courts. Thanks to the large pools (including a kiddie pool) and an extensive kids’ club, the Inn is a popular choice for families.
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In our Oyster Stats series, we’re sharing surprising tidbits on a range of topics using data we’ve accumulated from our hotel coverage and site traffic. Our goal is not to provide scientific data but to provide interesting directional insights about travel trends.
If you think you’re a smart shopper, you may have to think again. Because according to our research, some states are getting a lot more bang for their buck when it comes to hotels — and the results are pretty surprising.
Essentially, people from certain states are doing a better job of finding the lowest price possible for the highest pearl rating possible, guaranteeing a more luxurious stay at a smaller cost. Others, however, are not so savvy. Shelling out more money for a hotel with a lower pearl rating, these shoppers get a lot less pearl per dollar than their compatriots across state lines. Just check out how the numbers break down:
Here we show how the price per pearl differs among our best and worst shoppers. Our best shoppers in Nevada can, theoretically, book a five-pearl hotel for $290 per night, whereas New Yorkers, our worst shoppers, would pay $445 per night for a five-pearl property.
Gone are the barbeques and beaches of summer, and in are the crisp air, pumpkin spices, and crunching leaves of fall. (Not that we’re complaining — our hair looks way better now.) Now that autumn is on the verge of its commencement, we’re ready to drive up to New England to wander around and soak in the vibrant folliage. But to take the trouble out of where to go, we’ve found the best locales in the region for “leaf peepers,” as they are known, to explore the lush outdoors and curl up with some apple cider after with a loved one.
Visit: Providence, Rhode Island
The Christopher Dodge House has plenty of seasonal treats for Providence's fall guests
Stay: Christopher Dodge House
As one of New England’s most populated cities, Providence still has small town charm with its big city draws. Though the Rhode Island capital boasts its share of fine dining and high-end boutiques, Providence is the quintessential getaway for leaf peepers, filled with rolling, tree-lined walkways and lush park gardens. For the best view of the changing leaves, the Christopher Doge House sits in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of town, and is still just a short walk from neighboring green spaces like Roger Williams Park. After exploring the golden outdoors, guests can head back to the B&B and relax with a cup of hot tea and cookies around their in-room fireplaces, all before the early sun starts to set. Read More »
The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.
Dubbed the “City of Brotherly Love,” Philadelphia is famous for its rich revolution-era history, its architecture (modern landmark skyscrapers and historic brick buildings sit side-by-side), and its truly fanatic sports fans (the Phillies, Flyers, 76ers, and Eagles all play here). And although plenty of tourists flock here to taste a slice of Americana, Philadelphia’s residents may be eager to escape — even if just to another metropolis. So pack your bags, crank up the A/C, and hop in the car — we’ve got some miles to cover.
Road Trip #1: Philadelphia to Atlantic City, NJ
- Total Driving Time: 1 hour, 8 minutes
- Distance Covered: 61.9 miles
- Take This Trip If: You’ve got cash to spend — and not a clue where to start spending it.
Casinos are arguably AC's biggest draw. (Pun intended.)
The (aptly-named) Water Club at the Borgata offers several serene indoor havens like this.
Resorts has an Art Deco vibe -- which we find to be very chic.
Unlike other Northeastern beach destinations like the Hamptons and Cape Cod, Atlantic City (located on the Jersey Shore) is described as the Las Vegas of the East Coast, and with bright flashing lights dotting the boardwalk, big events (concerts, boxing matches), big gambling options, and boozed-up visitors, it’s clear the reputation is deserved. During the warmer months, expect to see guests soaking up the sun beachside during the day, then mingling over chic cocktails or gambling during the evening. Make sure to stroll the boardwalk and pick up some salt-water taffy, too — the city’s most celebrated treat. Stay in a resort along the oceanfront boardwalk to be closest to the action, or in the marina if you’re looking to feel a bit more secluded. A fantastic luxury option is the Water Club at the Borgata, an 800-room modern and exclusive escape from the bustle of Atlantic City. Guests have access to the casino, restaurants, and nightlife of the attached Borgata Hotel — but have their own exclusive amenities, too, including five adults-only heated pools and the serene two-story Immersion spa. For those looking to spend more green on gambling than on room rates, check out the Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City, which has its very own “Roaring Twenties” vibe — thanks in large part to the hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire. Rooms here lack modern amenities such as duvet covers and flat-screen TVs, but there is an indoor/outdoor pool, and nightlife options — including Prohibition, the city’s first gay club — which are all pretty solid.
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