Ballnahinch Castle, one of Ireland's most beautiful historic stays, has played host to Pirate Queens, members of Parliament, and an Indian Maharaja.
Europe’s rich history is alive and well at these amazing hotels. Seeming to appear straight out of the history books, these castles, palaces, and monasteries have been the host to some of our world’s most interesting — and sometimes notorious — affairs. Pirate Queens, famous authors, scheming politicians, and celebrities of days past and present have walked through these corridors — and now you can, too, just by clicking through our slideshow.
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!
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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Legalization supporters in the U.S. have been abuzz (excuse the pun) in recent weeks, ever since Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. So it’s safe to say that heading west is a good call these days if you’re planning on toking up. But heading east to our friends in Europe isn’t such a bad idea, either. For example, despite the recent tourist drug ban in the Netherlands, tourists and locals alike can continue to openly smoke in Amsterdam’s cafes. And numerous neighboring countries where weed is decriminalized have loose policies when it comes to the drug’s recreational use. So we’ve come up with a list — here are some of the best spots to smoke weed in Europe.
View from The Dylan Amsterdam
Though recent steps within government policies have made it seem like the Netherlands will become less tolerant towards marijuana use, Amsterdam’s mayor has promised that the city’s over 200 coffee shops will continue to serve locals and tourists. After all, many of the city’s 1.5 million tourists visit Amsterdam solely because of its lenient policies. Marijuana use is officially decriminalized in the Netherlands, and laws banning its use are rarely enforced.
Where to Stay: The Dylan Amsterdam
The Dylan is a stylish, upscale boutique centrally located in the Canal Ring. The 41 rooms are split into six different styles, ranging from lofts with cathedral ceilings to all-white rooms to Asian-inspired spaces. All rooms have high-end amenities including Bose sound systems, stocked minibars, and Zenology toiletries. A cozy lounge, two bars, a brasserie, and a lovely courtyard with heat lamps are all draws, but the real highlight here is the Michelin-star Vinkeles restaurant, which serves contemporary French cuisine in an exclusive space with just a handful of tables. Talk about a swanky spot to cure the munchies!
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There’s something — should we say a certain je ne sais quoi — about getting away to a spot that’s completely different. A different culture, different food, different people, a different language — all of these things can make you feel worlds away from home (in a good way, of course). And when we’re choosing a destination, we often can’t help but be drawn to French-speaking locales. After all, French is the language of love, and we feel pretty glam when we’re casually
searching through our translator conversing with locals in francais. But Paris is sooo last year. (Okay, so that’s a lie — Paris is always fabulous. But work with us here.) So why not visit a French-speaking spot that has, say, a beach as well? Or skip away to a European lakeside locale where French is the official language. If you want to immerse yourself in the French culture, France is certainly not your only option. Check out some of our favorite French-speaking destinations not in France.
Nicknamed St. Barts, St. Barthelemy in the French West Indies has been a playground to the rich and famous for several decades. Nestled among the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea, it was a French colony until 2007 when St. Barts officially became a “separate overseas collectivity.” French is spoken by many locals (although almost everyone on the island can speak some English) and much of the cuisine has a French flair. This, paired with the fact that almost all food products are imported from France, means meals can be pricey. Seafood, however, including conch — an island specialty — is caught locally. The well-heeled venture out to St. Barts not only for its gourmet restaurants, but also for its high-end designer shops, secluded beaches, and exclusive location. Celebs such as Jimmy Buffet, David Letterman, and Steve Martin own property on the island and are frequent visitors.
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The lobby features an antique suit of armor.
Hotel Les Amures is a quaint luxury boutique with a fabulous location in Old Town. The 32 rooms in this 17th-century mansion are charming and high-end, with details such as wood-beamed ceilings, faux-fur throws, and stone walls that create a chalet-like vibe. The style extends into the restaurant, breakfast room, and common spaces — beamed ceilings are present throughout, and there’s even a suit of armor in the lobby. The hotel attracts well-heeled couples and even the occasional celebrity — George Clooney stayed here. As a B&B, amenities are few (there is no spa or fitness center) but breakfast is included and it’s a truly romantic spot. See more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now»
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If you and your partner are planning a quick family escape before the holiday rush, — or are thinking ahead (kudos!) for outings between next year’s school breaks – we’ve come up with four great vacation ideas to offer you a little inspiration. Whether your family wants fun in the sun, a bit of culture, or just a change of scenery, we’ve found the best LGBT family getaways for all types. And as with any good family-friendly destination, these trips have a little something extra for parents to enjoy after the kiddies have gone to bed.
In Search Of: Culture
The "New York up North," Toronto has plenty of cultural sights
Tagged as “New York run by the Swiss,” Toronto is a massive (and clean!) cultural hub, with a reputation for being both family- and gay-friendly. Canada’s biggest city also has world-renowned restaurants, shopping, and theaters, with quick and easy transportation to take you there. The Fairmont Royal York is one of the Toronto’s premier hotels with its elegant, old world charm, and a prime location blocks from the shopping and attractions of Yonge Street. After a day of sight-seeing on Yonge or in the nearby Entertainment District, parents can cozy up for an intimate evening at the Library Bar, or one of the hotel’s award-winning restaurants, such as the locally-focused Epic. Read More »
Many travelers overlook elegant Geneva when planning a trip to Europe, but the city is well worth a visit. It’s popular mostly with business travelers and diplomats because many companies and international organizations have headquarters there, but its slow pace and upscale dining, shopping and accommodation options, make it a fantastic destination for a more relaxed yet equally grand and cosmopolitan European experience. In the winter, the city is the perfect gateway to some of the best ski resorts in the continent, and in the warmer days a stroll along the shores of picturesque Lake Geneva will probably wow travelers with its iconic Jet d’Eau (the world’s tallest fountain) and stunning mountain views. Whether you’re in town for leisure or business, there is a hotel for everyone here. Check out our favorite hotels in Geneva and book your flights!
Lake Geneva and its iconic Jet d'Eau are the city's main attractions
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Lake Tahoe, California
It’s true that the ocean is awesome — but reaching it can be a trek for many travelers. And even for those who live close to the beach, there comes a point in the summer when you get sick of sand getting stuck between your toes. That’s why we’ve compiled some of our favorite spots for freshwater fun; these beautiful lakes and rivers are an active traveler’s dream, offering activities such as canoeing, kayaking, fishing, nearby hiking, and more. Check out our trip options suited to a range of tastes — whether you prefer picnicking on Tahoe’s shores or cave tubing along the Macal River in Belize.