Florence

Tanque Verde, a quintessential Western dude ranch

Tanque Verde, a quintessential Western dude ranch

Sometimes, the journey is about the destination. Because the destination is so special, your whole travel experience is wrapped up inside it. We’ve traveled the world and have been to some pretty special spots. From a western dude ranch to a Florentine palazzo to an African canoe excursion, these 11 trips offer a far richer experience than your typical overnight stay.

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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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Red rooftops against the backdrop of Tuscany's hills create the perfect sight to take in on your first morning in Florence.

Red rooftops against the backdrop of Tuscany's hills create the perfect sight to take in on your first morning in Florence.

There’s nothing better than, well, being on vacation in the first place — and then looking out of your hotel room’s window to a gorgeous view. We’ve seen plenty of beautiful sights on our travels, and we’ve taken in some of the most breathtaking views we’ve ever seen in Florence, a city characterized by red rooftops, cobblestone streets, and distant rolling hills. Check out some of the most bellissimo views we’ve seen in the Italian city.

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Deluxe Room at the Hotel Brunelleschi; Florence, Italy

Deluxe Room at the Hotel Brunelleschi; Florence, Italy

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Hotel Brunelleschi’s tower is the oldest standing building still in use in Florence.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The owners of Eden Roc: A Renaissance Resort and Spa in Miami recently attempted a hostile management takeover of the hotel by breaking into the Marriott’s offices.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston offers puppies to guests who miss their pets.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Two Law students from University of California – Berkeley were arrested after having been caught beheading a 14-year old helmeted guinea fowl at the Flamingo Las Vegas.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Smyth Hotel’s Food Truck Concierge delivers guests’ favorite dishes from food trucks operating in the area to their rooms upon request.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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The hotel's lobby combines funky new pieces with antiques to create a sleek look.

The hotel's lobby combines funky new pieces with antiques to create a sleek look.

The boutique-like Rocco Forte Hotel Savoy — with just over 100 rooms – is known for personalized service and contemporary style. Neutral tones and tasteful fabrics create an elegant look, and are livened up by colorful artwork throughout. The attached L’Incontro Bar and Restaurant features a renowned Tuscan menu created by Michelin-starred Chef Fulvio Pierangelini and a chic dining room that spills out onto the piazza during summer months. The hotel’s central location is a major draw, and most guest rooms offer spectacular views. Those facing front look out onto the piazza, which makes for a pretty vista, if a bit of noise during lively days and nights. Rooms in the rear overlook the stunning Duomo — even the fitness center has lovely views from its top-floor perch. See more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now»
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Pretty sweet view, right?

Lush, tropical landscapes. Gorgeous city skylines. Tempting mountain vistas. These are the reasons why we go on vacation, right? That, and being able to relax and let someone else do the cooking for a change. But why not have both? Hotels with top-notch restaurants know that pulling in diners is about more than just the grub. A destination restaurant has to have both killer cuisine and a view to dine for [Ed. Note: See what we did there?] in order to pull vacationers away from their lounge chairs. We’ve seen some of the most unique and breathtaking vistas, all while dining on the freshest cuisine, at these five scrumptious hotel properties.

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Waking up on a Monday morning (especially after a holiday weekend) can be pretty tough — but it isn’t so hard to do at the Hotel Loggiato Dei Serviti. Located in Piazza della Santissima Annunziata — one of Renaissance Florence’s most stunning architectural complexes — this 16th-century property boasts a grand entrance of beautiful arches and columns. But the Tuscan elegance doesn’t end there: Wood-beamed ceilings, antique furnishings, and rich fabrics exude a classic Florentine vibe throughout the hotel. Still, nothing is more breathtaking than the views from the guestrooms. Adorable private terraces featuring flower boxes look out towards the Duomo so guests can sip on freshly-brewed espresso and greet the day — and the city  — with a smile. But until then, as we say every week, sit back, relax, and soak in the goodness that is the Hotel Loggiato Dei Serviti.

Waking Up Isn't Really So Hard to Do: The Deluxe Room at the Hotel Loggiato Dei Serviti, Florence

Waking Up Isn't Really So Hard to Do: The Deluxe Room at the Hotel Loggiato Dei Serviti, Florence

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Credit: Mikhail Shapaev/Flickr

For the past month, soccer fans around the globe have been glued to Euro 2012. It’s been a rough-and-tumble path to the finish line, but come this Sunday only one team will be left standing. First, though, are the semi-finals: Portugal vs. Spain; Germany vs. Italy. (In other words, let the bloodbath begin — on and off the field.) We may not all be extreme hooligans, but we sure don’t mind posing as one for the exciting finish. And where’s a better place to reign in it with a cold one and root for your squad with a passionate fury then besides fervent locals cheering on their respective teams? The teams’ hometowns, naturally. Check out these awesome watering holes that’ll welcome your hooting and hollering with open arms for the finish of Euro 2012.

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Public Restroom at the Hotel Constanza Barcelona

Public Restroom at the Hotel Constanza Barcelona

Who hasn’t ducked into a hotel to make use of a clean public restroom while on vacation? While hotels across the board often have nicer public bathrooms than, say, the local gas station, some hotels’ bathrooms go beyond just clean. Whether employing attractive streamlined design or antique decor, hotels are upping the ante when it comes to their public bathrooms, and we at Oyster have seen the best of the best. Check out our ten favorites in this slideshow.

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Staying at a hotel is all about getting away. And while some hotels make you feel like you’re in a different location, others go a step beyond and transport you to another era. You’ve seen our coverage of historic hotels around the globe, but now it’s time for us to show off the coolest futuristic hotels on Oyster.com. With everything from funky lighting to pod-like bedrooms to mobiles that could orbit in outer space, these hotels are ready for the 22nd century.

The Hotel: nhow Berlin

Lobby at the nhow Berlin

Lobby at the nhow Berlin

  • Why We Love It: The nhow Berlin is an offbeat, creative hotel overlooking the River Spree. This futuristic property has a music theme and offers rare amenities like Gibson guitar room service and two recording studios on-site. Bright colors, psychedelic patterns, and funky-shaped furniture have high visual impact in the lobby, bar, and restaurant. The wild decor is somewhat muted in the rooms, though there’s still plenty of pink, and quirky furniture, as well as amenities such as iPod docks and TVs embedded in mirrors.
  • Fave Futuristic Feature: What’s not to love about the pink UFO-like sculpture in the lobby?

See more photos of the nhow Berlin »

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