Foodie

The number of local craft breweries is at an all-time high in the United States. From coast to coast (and everywhere in-between), privately-owned breweries are producing delicious brews for every palate. Hoppy IPAs, robust ales, and refreshing pilsners are just some of the offerings on parade, and lucky for beer aficionados, many of these breweries (micro, or otherwise) welcome visitors for tours and tastings. Some even have full-fledged restaurants on-site that pair their pints with delicious plates. So pack the kegerator and find a willing d.d. because it’s time for a brew-cation. We’ve tried beers all over the country and, after plenty of boozy research, have picked out the seven best cities in the U.S. for beer. Plus, we’ve got great hotel recs in each city where beer lovers will feel right at home.

1. Portland, Oregon 

portland

Boasting the highest concentration of breweries of any city in the world — over fifty in the metropolitan area, if you’re curious — Portland tops our list. Large-scale operations have rubbed shoulders with small craft breweries in the Rose City since the 1980s, and micro-breweries and nano-breweries (breweries that generally produce four barrels or fewer) are popular destinations for locals and tourists alike. Deschutes Brewery, Hopworks Urban Brewery, and Upright Brewings are perennial favorites, but there are endless offerings in this quirky beer-loving-hipster-friendly city.

Where to Stay: Ace Hotel – Portland

This funky boutique emphasizes style above all else, and features cool decor touches such as reclaimed school chairs, nightstands made out of books or suitcases, turntables, and stacks of vinyl records. Hotel highlights include a local, organic breakfast in the breakfast room, a great happy hour scene at the Clyde Common lobby bar, and aromatic coffee at the beloved Stumptown Cafe. Read More »

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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…

The Restaurant at The Caves, Jamaica 

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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Akin to that elusive “nineteenth hole” in golf, après-ski scenes are more about socializing than sporting. Groups gather after the last run of the day to drink, dance, and relive any hairpin turns they might have experienced on the slopes. We’ve traveled to North America’s premier ski locales and every time, after a blustery day on the mountains, nothing has warmed us up faster than a hot toddy by the fire in some of our favorite hotel bars. Featuring cozy ambiances, stunning views, and custom drinks, these hot spots are just the ticket for a solid après-ski social hour.

The Granary at Spring Creek Ranch, Jackson Hole 

The Granary offers phenomenal views and cuisine in Jackson Hole.

This après-ski gem in Jackson Hole offers delicious, locally-sourced cuisine. Cocktails are tasty and the views…well, the views pretty much speak for themselves. With The Granary set in a wildlife refuge more than 700 feet above the Jackson Valley, it’s no wonder that the views are the most stunning of the Tetons in the area. Read More »

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The Land of the Midnight Sun offers cuisine that is as stunning and unique as the country’s dramatic natural scenery. Known for its strong focus on game meats and fish – as well as its many wonderfully diverse ways of preserving both – Norway is not short on culinary surprises. The country shares a palate with its Scandinavian neighbors, and also has some similarities with the tastes of Alaskans, Canadians, and the Japanese. But when it comes down to it, Norway is its own culinary beast and, due our recent trip there, we can officially say we slayed it. Though the fermented fish did give us pause, we persevered and were not the least bit disappointed. So what are you waiting for? Dig into Norway »

 

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A meal that has been adopted by countries the world over, Sunday brunch was (supposedly) dreamed up in the late 1800s by a British writer who thought that the noonday feast would be a welcome treat — and much-needed hangover cure — for “Saturday-night carousers.” But no matter the origin, brunch has come to be a weekly staple — and the silver lining to a day often overshadowed by the start of a new work week looming in the future. So whether it’s buffet-style, booze-focused (bottomless Bloody Marys, anyone?), or family-oriented, brunch can put a smile on just about anyone’s face. We’ve chowed down at plenty of happiness-inducing brunches across the U.S. and have come up with a list of our favorite spots to grub on Sunday. Check ‘em out!

The Garden Court at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

The Garden Court at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Sunday brunch at the Palace is legendary. Not only is the setting beautiful — we’re talking 40- to 50-foot vaulted ceilings, neoclassical marble columns, and six-foot-wide crystal chandeliers, topped by a sunlit translucent windowed ceiling — but a jazz trio plays beautiful music as hotel guests, locals, and visitors pile tasty treats on their plates. Sushi (with sushi chef), omelets (with omelet chef), crepes (with crepe chef), fresh fruit, sandwiches, salads, oysters on the half shell… you name it, it’s part of the buffet. Plus unlimited coffee, orange juice, and champagne.

Oyster’s Pick: Cinnamon-raisin French toast with flame-heated maple syrup

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Legend has it that when Dom Perignon first discovered champagne, he called out, “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” It’s hard to disagree with the Frenchman — a cool glass of bubbly can make even the most stoic person let loose a giggle or a smirk. And this is doubly true on New Year’s Eve. Tonight, 2013 will be rung in with champagne toasts around the world, and the best place to do just that? In a swanky champagne bar right in the comfort of your very own hotel, of course! On-site champagne lounges provide uniquely festive ambiances and make stumbling home post-festivities all the easier. Some of our favorite luxury hotels feature these sophisticated spots, so sit back, pop open a bottle of bubbly, and start spying for someone to kiss at midnight. It’s almost 2013 — Happy New Year!

PJ Lounge at the Dukes Hotel, London

The PJ Lounge at the Dukes is a classy spot to ring in the New Year.

While Dukes may be famous for its martinis — James Bond-creator Ian Flemming originated the famous “Shaken, not stirred” line here — its newest addition to the fold is serving up the finest champagne and champagne cocktails. The Perrier-Jouet Champagne Lounge (or, more simply, the PJ Lounge) is a stylish space, outfitted in rich greens, with bright pops of pinks and whites, to sip some bubbly. The bar is classic and playful all at once, just as any New Years Eve affair should be. Read More »

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Celebrity chef restaurants have fast-become the brag-worthy accessory to luxury hotels. Nowadays, the likes of Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Gordon Ramsay call multiple hotel kitchens home, but the ultimate indulgence comes when you can chow down on fame-broiled [Ed. Note: We couldn't help ourselves] chateaubriand in the comfort of your very own suite. The hotels with the most bragging rights are going a step above by not only offering a gourmet experience in the dining room, but delivered to your door as well. Oyster has had the pleasure of sampling many delicious celebrity chef room service menus. Check out six of our favorites here:

Celebrity Chef: Jean-Georges Vongerichten

A private dinner in paradise just got even more delicious, courtesy of Jean-Georges.

The Hotel: One&Only Ocean Club

Bringing a sense of tranquility to the otherwise-crowded Paradise Island, the One&Only Ocean Club’s personal butlers, beautiful pools, and access to Atlantis’s water park, casino, and other attractions make it one of the Caribbean’s best resorts. Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Dune restaurant is just the icing on the cake at this luxe resort. But what delicious icing it is — that you can have delivered straight to your room. Serving innovative French-Asian cuisine punctuated with Bahamian herbs and influences, Dune offers a mouth-watering and chic dining experience, suite-side.

Oyster’s Menu Pick: Roasted Peking duck with shallot confit, asparagus, shitake, and lilly bulb stir fry.

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Campton Place's restaurant serves up the good stuff.

San Francisco‘s restaurants are known for melding Californian cuisine with a broad spectrum of global culinary influences. And this trick has certainly paid off: The city’s diverse offerings have earned their fair share of celestial acclaim. Some of our favorite hotel restaurants, in particular, are attracting the Michelin Man’s attention. Serving up unique and creative meals — often inspired by the California coastline — these restaurants are sure to leave diners salivating for more. Dig into our some of our faves in this slideshow:

 

 

 

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In the summertime, Venice belongs to tourists — 18 million tourists to be exact. Crowds clog the (barely) three square miles of this wondrous city, vastly outnumbering the roughly 270,000 Italians that call La Serenissima home. Literally meaning “the most serene,” this nickname is often replaced by another, less attractive moniker: Italian Disneyland. Though summer in Venice can certainly be nice, long lines and screaming children do not a happy vacationer — nor a happy Venetian — make.

But with winter’s arrival, the city appears to reclaim itself. In those short weeks between the holidays and Carnevale, Venetians indulge in life the way it is meant to be. Whether they’re tossing back un’ombra (more on this in a bit) or sloshing their way through l’acqua alta (and this, too), Venetians revel in their alone time — and who wouldn’t want to join them? Traveling to Venice in the winter allows visitors to experience the city at a slower, more peaceful pace, sans crowds and itineraries. To help you choose where to begin your journey to reclaim La Serenissima, here are some Venetian traditions you shouldn’t miss:

1. Gondola through the fog.

The gondolas at S. Giorgio Maggiore stand ready to show you their city in a whole new light.

Venice’s unique landscape is always enrapturing, but in winter the lightly grayed, slanted light of this canal city becomes hauntingly beautiful. Fog lingers through the canals, creating a mysterious and eerie atmosphere (that incidentally looks lovely in photographs). And if a bit of snow catches you by surprise, well, that’s even better — Venice is never more romantic than at times like this. As a bonus, with few tourists in town, there is no jostling for position on the waterways, allowing visitors a solitary ride back in time.

Where to Stay: The Hotel Palazzo Stern has its own vaporetto stop on the Grand Canal — and we’re sure Venice’s gondoliers will also be happy to drop you off at this historic boutique.

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As the Hotel-Tell All, Oyster is very well-traveled when it comes to hotels. We’ve seen it all — the good, the bad, and the ugly. So around this time last year, we came up with a list of 11 things we hate about hotels. And trust us, we really hate them (don’t even get us started on daily resort fees…). But tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we realized that, sure, hotels can do some annoying things, but hotels give us plenty to be thankful for, too. So this time, we decided to come up with a list of 11 things we love about hotels.

11. 24-hour room service

Breakfast in bed at The Surrey in New York City

Breakfast in bed at The Surrey in New York City

Even Mom won’t whip up an omelet for us when we just gotta have one at 4 a.m. But at hotels with 24-hour room service, guests can have their pick of tasty treats no matter the time of day or night. And even better than 24-hour room service is 24-hour room service with a menu dreamed up by a celebrity chef. Hotels such as The Surrey and Mercer Hotel, both in New York City, are known for their celebrity chef restaurants and room service menus.

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