Istanbul

Like the rest of the world, our office is abuzz with talk of Wes Anderson’s newest flick, The Grand Budapest Hotel. And sure, it may be mostly water cooler chatter, but we consider it research too — after all, it is about a grand hotel… one that may have seen some grander times. But even in its heyday, the Grand Budapest Hotel just can’t stack up to some of the gorgeous historic hotels that we’ve stayed in — from Irish castles to stately Southern mansions. Check out a dozen stunning stays that are far grander than the Grand Budapest Hotel (with the requisite storied history, to boot).

1. Ca’Sagredo Hotel, Venice

Ca'Sagredo

Originally built in the 15th century by the Morosini family, this beautiful palazzo — right on the Grand Canal — was purchased by the Sagredos (a family of noble blood) in the 1700s, which is how the hotel got its name. Besides luxurious rooms and a lovely terrace, the Ca’Sagredo Hotel features original frescoes and sculptures from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Stairs at Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul Stairs at Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul

Formerly the palace of an Ottoman Sultan, the Ciragan Palace Kempinski is the grand dame of Istanbul. It wows guests at every turn, from the sprawling, manicured grounds, to the heated infinity pool right on the Bosphorus, to the refined suites. The dining options are extensive and exceptional; the spa is lovely; and the meeting space housed in the original palace building makes an ornate setting for a business function or wedding. It’s arguably the city’s top luxury option, but it’s far from the popular tourist sights in Sultanahmet. Read More »

{ 2 comments }

Some hotels are more than just hotels — they are former castles, royal residences, or Gatsby-esque mansions. Or they opened their doors many years ago to offer accommodations of unsurpassed luxury, attracting royalty and famous names. These grand dames around the world have drawn on their rich pasts in order to offer present-day magnificence.

Grand Hotel Baglioni, Florence

Grand Hotel Baglioni, Florence

Grand Hotel Baglioni, Florence

Housed in the former residences of the Bertolini princes, the Grand Hotel Baglioni lives up to the grand image painted by Florence’s past. The hotel is filled with heavy-handed regal touches and ornate decor from top to bottom. The 193 rooms are very spacious (not often the case in a historic building), and feel luxurious, decked out with classic Italian furnishings, large leaded windows, gorgeous dark wood (the ceilings, floors, and furniture), and equally spacious dazzling white bathrooms. Both the rooftop garden and Terrazza Brunelleschi restaurant offer stunning views of Florence. Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Visiting Europe is often composed of a whirlwind tour, during which visitors hurry from one tourist destination to another. Therefore — in between trips to museums and monuments — finding the time to breathe can be surprisingly difficult. To help speed along to the moment where you actually find relaxation — you’re on vacation, after all — some of our favorite hotels across the pond are outfitted with top-notch spas designed to get you to that “Ahhh” feeling faster than you can say “Euro Trip.” Whether all you want is some downtime in the sauna or a deep tissue massage, these properties have you covered. So sit back and relax—the Louvre will still be there tomorrow.

1. K West Hotel & Spa, London 

The intimate spa encourages relaxation at every corner.

K West is a smart and sophisticated option in London, with its main attraction being the beautiful K Spa. Featuring sleek style and impressive facilities — the hydrotherapy pool and “Snow Paradise” room are particularly noteworthy — the spa is well-regarded throughout the United Kingdom. The “Snow Paradise” room is meant to follow a hot steam treatment, and is based on Finnish spa techniques of using hot-cold therapy to stimulate circulation and the immune system.

Read More »

{ 0 comments }

If you’re the type that’s always up-to-date on the latest celeb gossip, or if you have the bucks to travel like an A-lister, you probably aren’t interested in hearing about the hottest hotels from two years ago. You want to know all about the hottest hotels around the world right now, where celebrities have been spotted recently (within the last year at least). We totally understand. Trends fade; cool hotels become less cool. That’s why we did some sleuthing to find out which hotels are still scorching hot — in cities from NYC to Paris to Istanbul.

Trump SoHo, New York City

Paparazzi are frequently camped outside the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York City.

Paparazzi are frequently camped outside the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York City.

Celebs Spotted Recently: The Kardashian clan (Kourtney, Kim, Kanye, and Kris Jenner); Jada Pinkett-Smith; Jessica Alba; Kendra Wilkinson

The Oyster.com offices are located just around the corner from the Trump SoHo, and we can confirm first-hand that it is one of the most star-studded hotels in NYC. We spotted the Kardashian clan only a month or so ago way back from lunch; in fact, and it feels like paparazzi are permanently camped outside the hotel entrance. The first Trump hotel in downtown New York has the attention to detail and hands-on service you’d expect from a Trump property, but the hipper vibe and great SoHo location cater to a younger set. The luxurious spa and seasonally open pool are the hotel’s main features. Koi (which draws plenty of celebs all on its own) serves Japanese food in a sleek space.

Read More »

{ 1 comment }

Some hotel weddings are gorgeous, some not so much, but they often all kind of feel the same. That’s where we come in — we’ve discovered some of the most beautiful and unique wedding venues in hotels around the world. Whether you want to say “I do” on safari, in a cloud forest, or at a Gatsby-esque mansion, these hotels deliver on the romance. Check them out here, and get inspired for your own big day (or vow renewal)!

For the Nature Enthusiasts: Selva Negra in Nicaragua 

Chapel in the middle of a rainforest? Check that off your list.

For outdoorsy couples looking for an authentic eco-lodge experience on their wedding day, Selva Negra is the real deal. This family-run organic farm and coffee estate in Nicaragua has accommodations ranging from hostel rooms to private bungalows, as well as a lush, cool mountain setting that’s rich with wildlife (expect howler monkeys, lizards, agoutis, and all types of birds). Couples can get married at the on-site chapel — which the owners built for their own daughter’s wedding — beneath Selva Negra’s cloud forest.  Read More »

{ 0 comments }

Shelling out thousands of dollars a night for a hotel room may not be in the cards for most of us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a voyeuristic peek at the jaw-dropping suites that command these high price tags. From high-roller villas in Las Vegas to the uber-decadent suite in Istanbul where Madonna shacked up with her beau, these suites are designed to make you drool — and sold at prices that will make you gag.

New York Palace, New York City

  • Name: The Royal Suite
  • Price: $17,000/night

Royal Suite at the New York Palace

One of New York’s most visually stunning hotels, the New York Palace has a gilded, grandiose style, huge rooms, a luxe spa, and a fantastic gym. Its Royal Suite is among the most opulent — and expensive — suites in the City, with lavish Louis XV and XVI decor. See more photos of the Royal Suite »

Read More »

{ 1 comment }

Whether they’re on business or leisure, with the family or solo, almost all travelers consider a book (or a Kindle, whatever) a must-have while on a trip. Personally, we love curling up with a good read while we’re jaunting from city to city. But — taking it one step further — we really love enjoying a novel in the exact same place where the author once roamed There’s just something in the air — and p.s. these wordsmiths usually stayed in some pretty nice digs. So we rounded up the literary hotels where famous authors have partied, waited arrest, you name it. Hey, some even wrote while they were shacked up in their hotel rooms. Check out nine spots where famous writers have spent some time.

Cadogan Hotel, London

The Entrance to the Cadogan Hotel

Built in 1887, the Cadogan Hotel has seen its fair share of history within the walls of the stately Edwardian townhouse. In the realm of literary history, Oscar Wilde was a frequent guest, and he caused quite a scandal when he was arrested at the hotel in 1895 (though friends encouraged him to flee the country, Wilde refused).  Poet laureate John Betjeman commemorated the arrest in his poem The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel, and the hotel has renamed the room where the handcuffing went down as the Oscar Wilde Room. At the time of the arrest, it was simply room no. 118.
Read More »

{ 1 comment }

Istanbul is a city of contrasts. It’s a city that’s both modern and historic, where great restaurants, hopping nightlife, and horrific traffic exist alongside some of the world’s most impressive ancient wonders. It’s both western and eastern, culturally as well as geographically: It’s the only city in the world on two continents (Europe and Asia). A visitor can listen to the Muslim call to prayer while standing in the shadow of the Blue Mosque and feel transported to another time — or go clubbing after nightfall with Istanbul’s trendy urbanites. So you can imagine how excited we were to get to visit a few weeks ago — and how excited we are now to get to share what we discovered. Take a look at the first Istanbul hotels on Oyster!

Intimate Boutique: Hotel Ibrahim Pasha

Hotel Ibrahim Pasha

Hotel Ibrahim Pasha

Hotel Ibrahim Pasha is one of the most charming boutique hotels in Sultanahmet, with an unbeatable location just off the Hippodrome. The cozy lobby and library both have wood-burning fireplaces — a real treat in the cooler months — and the roof terrace has a jaw-dropping view of the Blue Mosque and the Bosphorus. The free breakfast is perfectly adequate if not as extensive as the offerings elsewhere, and free tea and coffee are served all day upon request. Standard Rooms are diminutive but adorable, with flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, robes, Molton Brown toiletries, and rainfall showerheads. For what you get, it’s a great value, though prices do spike up in peak season. See more photos of Hotel Ibrahim Pasha » Read More »

{ 0 comments }