History & Culture

the-hotel--v1795312-50-720

Every vacation should leave you with a certain bounce to your step, but at the Solar Do Castelo Hotel in Lisbon, you’ll actually get to learn from example. The property’s resident fowl friends — read: a friendly family of peacocks — strut about the courtyard, gardens, and alleyways, hoping to impress guests. This ostentation (yes, a group of peacocks is actually called an ostentation) roams about the grounds of this unique boutique property, which is the only hotel within the walls of the medieval village surrounding St. George’s Castle. It’s quiet, and rich in history; the hotel has preserved a large part of the architecture, and has also added a small museum of artifacts off of the lobby. The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 6th century, during which time the Romans, Visigoths, and eventually the Moors claimed ownership of it before Portugal’s first king Afonso Henriques captured it in 1147. He dedicated it to St. George and used it as Portugal’s official royal palace for many years.

Today, the Solar Do Castelo Hotel isn’t dripping in actual crown jewels, but the hotel’s feathered tenants do give the property a royal ambiance. Take enough lessons from them, and soak in the rich history surrounding you at St. George’s Castle, and you’ll be strutting like King Alfonso or (King of the Soccer Pitch) Cristiano Ronaldo in no time. See more photos after the jump! Read More »

{ 0 comments }

The beauty of reading a good book is that it transports you to a whole different world — without ever costing you a penny. Whether James Joyce guides you through Dublin or Hemingway fixes you a drink from his home in Key West, literature opens pathways to other dimensions that never require a passport. But sometimes the imagination needs a dose of reality to fully grasp the whole picture. Other times, an author’s words so imbue a reader’s mind, he or she cannot help but pack up bags to experience the same sights, sounds, and smells that gave birth to a favorite novel. Poets, novelists, and playwrights give us a little bit of their world on every page — and now it’s our chance to take a bit more for ourselves. The best destinations for book lovers are enumerable: Every person has a favorite author, and every author has a different world view. But there are some spots around the globe that possess just a bit more of a literary spark than others. So pack your bags — and your favorite paperback — because we’re going on a trip perfect for any bookworm.

1. Dublin, Ireland 

dublin

The Irish have a reputation for storytelling, and with good reason. A UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin the home of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, and countless other prominent literary figures — and you can visit several of their homes during your visit. At Trinity College, visitors can take a look at one of the most famous books in the world, The Book of Kells, dating back to 800 A.D. And, once night comes, be sure to take part in the Literary Pub Crawl that takes you to some of the city’s best pubs with an acting troupe in tow portraying some of your favorite scenes from Irish literature. The James Joyce Museum, the Dublin Writers Museum, the Chester Beatty Library, and the Long Room at Trinity College are among other popular literary sites.

Stay: Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa

The Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa is located about half an hour northwest of Dublin’s city center. The historic property — an 18th-century castle turned Georgian house, turned convent, turned hotel — sits on beautiful green grounds, making it a popular spot for weddings and events. The location allows visitors to see more of the country that inspired Ireland’s great writers, and with a library, restaurant, three bars, and several golf courses nearby, there is plenty to keep guests entertained. Read More »

{ 0 comments }

It’s a dream vacation: Staying in an Italian farmhouse amid Tuscany’s rolling hills or Campania’s stunning plateaus, surrounded by rows of olive trees and sunflower blossoms. Italy was one of the first countries to successfully promote the agriturismo phenomenon, in which vacationers stay in a working farmhouse to truly immerse themselves in the culture and natural beauty of the nation. The results have been spectacular. Charmingly rustic resorts call to couples, families, and friends looking to explore Italy beyond its bustling cities. Discover seven of Oyster’s favorite farmhouses here.

1. Ripa Relais, Umbria 

ripa

This farmhouse resort is nestled in the Umbrian countryside on the slopes of Ripa’s ancient castle. The resort has 16 elegant rooms arrayed in three of four buildings, surrounded by landscaped gardens, cobblestone paths, and cypress and olive trees. An outdoor pool offers views of the surrounding fields, and the on-site restaurant, set in a former church, serves Umbrian and Tuscan cuisine. A stay here means utter relaxation in a rural environment. It’s a 20-minute drive to Perugia and Assisi.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

It’s rare that a hotel surprises us anymore. We’ve visited castles and manors, towering skyscrapers, and cozy B&Bs. But when we heard that one of the hottest new hotels in New York City lay across the East River in a converted door factory, we had to pause for a second. Because, really? Yes, really. Tucked away next to the Pulaski Bridge in Brooklyn’s northernmost neighborhood of Greenpoint, The Box House Hotel is wowing visitors with its 57 apartment-style rooms that epitomize Brooklyn cool. Designed by local Brooklynite Kip Jacobs, rooms feature a mix of modern furnishings and antiques, with special touches such as filament light bulbs and gorgeous kitchens. This is a hidden gem with tons of history — just a stone’s throw from Manhattan.

the-hotel--v2046256-720

The entrance of this cute and boxy (pun intended) property is framed by three vintage checker cabs — lined up like ducks in a row — from the 1970s. It’s clear even before stepping inside that this hotel has personality, and the lobby delivers with cozy seating arrangements, interesting antiques, and vibrant colors. Though it’s trendy, don’t expect a Brooklyn hipster crowd or party scene; he industrial neighborhood is chic, but quiet. Plus, the apartment-style accommodations make for calm, family-friendly surroundings. All-in-all — for an authentic Brooklyn stay — you can’t do much better than The Box House Hotel. See more photos after the jump!

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

This year, thanks to an aptly-timed Presidents’ Day, Valentine lovers get a long weekend to celebrate romance — and the two holidays aren’t as unrelated as one might expect. Some of our fearless leaders have been decidedly romantic, and quite often their romantic rendezvous have taken place at some of the country’s most romantic hotels. Whether they are treating the First Lady (or their other lady loves) to a relaxing vacation, or pining for their loved one from a hotel suite for one, these presidents sure know a thing or two about l’amour. This Valentine’s weekend, you might consider booking a hotel with the presidential seal of approval.

San Ysdiro Ranch, a Ty Warner Property, Santa Barbara 

San Ysidro

The Presidential Couple: John and Jackie Kennedy 

Back in 1953, the former president and his new bride paid just $27 to spend a night at this luxurious resort as they traveled from Acapulco up the Californian coast. Nowadays, that same suite — renamed the Kennedy Cottage after the couple — goes for thousands of dollars per night. Read More »

{ 0 comments }

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.

{ 0 comments }