Dublin

It’s official: We’ve got the luck ‘o the Irish here at Oyster.com. And since that means there is now extensive travel coverage of Ireland at your disposal, you’ve got the luck o’ the Irish too! Our coverage includes 50 hotel reviews, nearly 20,000 photos, four knowledge-packed travel guides, and five helpful roundups of the best hotels in Dublin — whether you’re on business or a luxe getaway, with the family or with your honey. Follow the links to check it all out, or peruse some of our fabulous photos after the jump. Just be warned: They’ll make you want to start planning your Irish vacation right away!

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We’re all about a funky hotel or two, but there’s something to be said for the grand dames. They celebrate their storied histories and iconic statuses with classic, timeless decor — that’s almost always tres chic and just a bit over the top, dahhhling. And whenever you step into one of these hotels, you feel like you’re in the presence of greatness — at least, great decor and design.  So today we’re giving a photo tour of our favorite hotels that have that classically elegant (and dare we say, old money?) look down pat. From gilded pillars to floral patterns, from dainty tea sets to regal portraits, these hotels keep their spaces feeling timeless. Get inspired — and get the look!

The Fairmont San Francisco

Lobby at The Fairmont San Francisco

The Fairmont combines the amenitiestechnology, and corporate-dominated clientele of a large, modern property with the history, cachet, and decor of a turn-of-the-20th-century grand old dame. Upon entering the lobby, guests are wowed by the sweeping ceilings, gilded accents, intricate wrought ironing, and massive marble columns, under which guests can recline on plush velvet sofas in rich golds and browns. The overall effect is stunning, and exudes a glamorous 1920s vibe. Rooms, many with stunning views, are equally elegant with warm gold and green accents, antique mahogany furniture, and cozy beds.

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In honor of President Obama’s inauguration on Monday, we’re taking a look back at his travels over his last four years in office — and on the campaign trail. The Commander-In-Chief has laid his head in some of our favorite hotels around the globe and, thanks to his refined taste and seriously swanky style (although we’d argue we really have Michelle to thank for that), we’re always eager to see where he’ll travel to next (and, more importantly, where he’ll stay!). Congratulations, Mr. President! May the next four years be full of prosperous times — and plenty of unique hotel stays!

The Hay-Adams, Washington, DC

This decadent junior suite at The Hay-Adams offers White House views.

Four years ago, President Obama moved his family into the Presidential Suite at this historic hotel with White House views after former President George W. Bush rejected his request to stay in Blair House, the White House’s guest residence. President Obama wanted to move to Washington three weeks before his inauguration so that his daughters could start at Sidwell Friends School without missing the beginning of the term, but he was informed that Blair House was already booked (for former prime minister of Australia John Howard and several receptions, as it later turned out). Lucky for him, The Hay-Adams is one of DC’s most luxurious stays. Read More »

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Pubs along Dublin's Temple Bar beckon visitors with their traditional bites and brews.

Ireland: The land of meat and potatoes. Hearty dishes like lamb stew and fish and chips may be what the Emerald Isle is known for, but that’s just the tip of its culinary iceberg. In the last decade especially, Ireland has had a culinary resurgence. Reconnecting with indigenous ingredients in thoughtful and exciting new ways, Irish chefs have re-established the island nation as a force to be reckoned with on the gastronomic stage. During our recent trip to Ireland, we got in touch with our Irish roots and enjoyed some truly delectable dishes. From shots of Jameson to shots of oysters, we got up to our ears in Irish cuisine — and now you can too. Prepare your palates, it’s time to dig into Ireland. Sláinte! 

 

Ok, So It’s Still A Lot About The Potato

At the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, visitors can enjoy beef and Guinness stew with a hearty serving of mashed potatoes.

Ireland may have grown up a lot in the last decade when it comes to cooking, but that doesn’t mean that the potato is just going to disappear over the Cliffs of Moher. The versatile root vegetable has been a staple of Irish cooking since the 1500s, served alongside meat stews, in casseroles and soups, and all by its lonesome in simple but nonetheless exquisite dishes. Champ (an Irish take on mashed potatoes) and Dublin coddle (a hearty dish with bacon, sausage, and onions) are both staples.

But one of the most delicious ways to eat a potato is in a boxty. These traditional potato pancakes, delicious in their own right, are elevated to a whole other level when stuffed with either fish, meat, or vegetables. Legend has it that this well-loved dish will even help you snag a brogue-wielding fella, for as the Irish say, “Boxty on the griddle / Boxty in the pan, / If you can’t make boxty, /You’ll never get a man.” Read More »

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There are plenty of different ways to travel in Europe – from shoestring-budget trips to over-the-top getaways worthy of the British royals. Here at Oyster we’ve been lucky enough to be able to do both (seriously, the budget hotels in Europe are pretty nice!), but the holidays are for wishing and dreaming, so we’re going to help you put together your own list of top places to get pampered in 2013. Keep reading and discover our favorite luxury hotels in Europe!

Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris

These luxurious rooms have classic, elegant decor, but modern technologies.

These luxurious rooms have classic, elegant decor, but modern technologies.

The world-renowned luxury hotel Plaza Athenee — a part of the Dorchester Collection — is synonymous with Parisian elegance and good taste. Iconic red awnings and chestnut trees welcome guests to the historic setting, on the upscale Avenue Montaigne location with direct views of the Eiffel Tower. It’s all about luxury here, inside and out. The avenue is lined with high-end shops such as Christian Dior, Prada, and Chanel. And inside, the 146 rooms and 45 suites are decorated in classic Art Deco style with modern touches like flat-screen TVs and marble baths. With six distinct restaurants, a large fitness center, and a can’t-miss daily breakfast in a leafy garden, the Plaza Athenee doesn’t miss a beat.

  • Our favorite luxe amenity: Guests have access to the Dior Institute for a full range of quality beauty and spa treatments.

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If you’re one of the many shoppers out there struggling with gift buying this holiday season, don’t fret. Whether you’re a road warrior with no time to shop or just looking for a ‘lil inspiration, we’ve found a surprising source for great gift ideas: hotels. From gourmet goodies to decadent bath products to home decor, hotels have plenty of items that can make the perfect present — so swipe something on your next hotel stay (and pay up, of course!) or simply swipe the suggestion!

Gift Idea: Signature Pantry Goodies

Guests can buy signature pantry items from The Merrion kitchen, such as red onion marmalade.

Guests can buy signature pantry items from The Merrion kitchen, such as red onion marmalade.

Little-known fact about hotels: Some of the really, really nice ones have their own signature gourmet goodies. At The Merrion, for example, the hotel chef sells kitchen creations such as red onion marmalade (4 euros, or about $5) and hotel-brand chocolate bars crafted under the guidance of chocolatiers in France, both for sale in the in-room minibars. In addition, entire holiday hampers of treats can be purchased. One of our favorites? The Merrion Hamper, with items such as cranberry sauce, brandy butter, mulled wine and grape chutney, macaroons, mince pies, chocolate truffles, Christmas pudding, and lemon oil, all for 55 euro (about $72). At The Shelbourne Dublin, more tasty seasonal signature treats are for sale, such as various relishes (4.95 euros, about $6.50), preserves (4.95 euros, about $6.50), and even Christmas pudding (10 euros, about $13).

Oyster’s Picks for Where to Swipe ‘Em: The Merrion Hotel in Dublin, The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel

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Unique amenities and personalized services are becoming increasingly in-demand at luxury hotels. Some might label these services over-the-top — and some of them are — but many of the butlers, sommeliers, and experts of the hotel world are performing real and important services for guests. And we here at Oyster want to hear their stories — especially if they include exciting and heartwarming tales from Ireland’s rich past! Descendants of the Emerald Isle are scattered far and wide around the globe, yet many often find themselves returning home to discover their roots. And giving them a helping hand is Helen Kelly, the Genealogy Butler at The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel. A professional genealogist, Kelly has been aiding the Irish in their quest for their ancestral history since the 1980s, and has worked with The Shelbourne since 1995 as, quite literally, the only Genealogy Butler in the world.

The Shelbourne's Genealogy Butler, Helen Kelly, "empowers" guests to track down their ancestors.*

The Shelbourne Dublin itself is a historic icon located on St. Stephen’s Green. Built in 1824, the property has witnessed major historical events firsthand (the Irish Constitution was signed here in 1922) and has hosted plenty of famous guests (including Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Princess Grace Kelly, Bill Clinton, and Bono).

Hotel guests, who perhaps get inspired by their storied surroundings, can make an appointment with Kelly to review whatever information they have on their ancestors. She will then be able to offer guidance on how to best track down more information in a city where the mass of historical documents and institutions is daunting. Over a one-hour consultation — which costs 100 Euro — guests will receive a full assessment from Kelly on their ancestral history, as well as an overview of the history, culture, and landscape of Ireland.

To read more about Kelly’s work as Genealogy Butler, check out our interview after the jump.

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Christmas Around the World

by Devon on December 6, 2012

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us (if you can’t tell by all the Target ads), and we’re taking a trip around the world to see how they celebrate in some of our favorite locales. Christmas is a special time all around the globe, whether it’s celebrated with bonfires, dead wrens (yes, you read that right), or just good ole family-style feasts, and we’ve found the best celebrations and places to stay this season. But wherever you go to celebrate the holidays, just remember to say “Merry Christmas,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Joyeux Noel,” or “Froehliche Weihnachten!”

Christmas in the United States

You can't go wrong with Christmas in New York, especially at the Plaza.

For some of the best displays of Christmas spirit, the Big Apple is a premium choice as the host of some of the most celebrated seasonal events in the world. During the one time of year New Yorkers actually don on smile, there is plenty to celebrate — from ice skating at Rockefeller Center to catching the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. For cozy accommodations, The Plaza has some of the most iconic decorations in the city, along with a prime Central Park location near the FAO Schwartz toy store and famed Fifth Avenue shopping. Even Kevin McCallister spent Christmas at the Plaza! Read More »

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When it comes to cozy winter charm — roaring fires, hot (and strong!) drinks, and snug nooks — it’s hard to top Ireland. Though winter is the off season for the Emerald Isle, it can be a magical time to visit (as anyone who has heard the song Christmas in Killarney can probably understand). Plus, hotels can be dirt cheap this time of year. So sure, it’ll be near-freezing cold, but fortunately these hotel features will warm you right up on your Irish holiday.

Toasty Feature: The Peat-Burning Fireplace

The Bushmills Inn in Antrim keeps peat fires roaring in colder months.

The Bushmills Inn in Antrim keeps peat fires roaring in colder months.

Peat is as Irish as it gets — this bog turf has been burned as fuel for centuries in Ireland, and gives off a distinct smell that some people love.

Find It At: Bushmills Inn, Northern Ireland

The quaint Bushmills Inn in Antrim is quintessentially Irish in every respect: There are fireplaces burning peat or wood throughout the property, a fantastic restaurant serving locally sourced cuisine, Irish music performed certain nights at the Gas Bar, which is lit by traditional gaslight, and 41 cozy, cottage-style rooms. The inn has a rich history dating back to 1608, when a coach house and stables stood here, and the actual main inn building dates to the 1820s; the historic character has been carefully and thoughtfully preserved throughout.

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Dublin charms visitors with its small town feel, Georgian architecture, and hopping pubs. But it’s had the (sometimes unfair) reputation of being home to cheap, crash pad-style accommodations for decades. We’re here to set the record straight: In the last few years, Dublin’s hotel scene has become much more exciting and posh, despite the country’s economic struggles. Beautiful, cutting-edge hotels — comparable to those in other European capitals – have begun to spring up and some of our favorite accommodations are the city’s many gorgeous boutiques. There’s one for every taste and budget, so check out six of our faves below and let us know which you like best in the comments section!

Dylan Hotel

The Dylan Restaurant serves a healthy menu in a relaxed but chic atmosphere.

The Dylan Restaurant serves a healthy menu in a relaxed but chic atmosphere.

Stylish rooms have bold headboards, flat-screen TVs, and stocked minibars.

Stylish rooms have bold headboards, flat-screen TVs, and stocked minibars.

The Dylan Hotel is a stylish 44-room boutique with a quiet and safe location in Dublin 4, an upscale neighborhood a short walk from the city center. Each room has been individually styled with a mix of whimsical decor — artistic headboards, intricate mirrors, statement chairs — and classic pieces. Amenities are fantastic for such a small property. In the room, there are flat-screen TVs, iPod docks (with iPods loaded with historical Dublin walking tours), stocked minibars, and bathrooms with underfloor heating. Some bathrooms also have big, luxurious soaking tubs with small flat-screen TVs. Amenities in the hotel include a fitness room, cozy bar, heated outdoor terrace, solid restaurant, and 24-hour room service.

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