Lisbon

Let’s play a game of “would you rather.” Would you rather stay in a cute boutique in Istanbul or a dated (but canal-side) hotel in Venice? A historic country estate in Ireland or a stylish, woodsy hotel on the fjords in Norway? Everyone’s preferences are different, but one thing is for sure: Not every destination around the globe will deliver the same level of accommodations for your travel dollar. That’s why we decided to launch a new series to expose just how much bang for your buck you’re actually getting on your trip.  It may change your mind about where to go next…and you may even find yourself packing your bags for somewhere unexpected — but totally awesome, and affordable! This week, we’re taking a look at what you can get in cities across Europe. The price: $250/night. The dates: October 10th through 17th. And we’re off!

Which hotel would you choose? VOTE ON FACEBOOK or let us know in the comments section below!

Hotel Indigo London Kensington – Earl’s Court: $237/night

Hotel Indigo London Kensington

This is one of the trendiest Indigo properties anywhere, with bold, stylish decor and a quirky theme that’s inspired by Victorian manor houses (which this hotel once was) and French boudoir style. Each floor is themed after a different color (think: lime, teal, or fuchsia), and the hallways are lined with portraits of Lordships and Ladyships. There’s not a lot to dislike, although the hotel’s address isn’t the major selling point — the location on the west edge of Kensington is accessible (via the nearby Earl’s Court tube station), but there’s not a lot within walking distance.

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Summertime always gets us nostalgic, particularly when we think back to our busy days and peaceful nights spent at summer camp. Everything was just simpler then, right? Counselors chose the activities, the kitchen staff provided all the grub, and at night the soft sounds of nature — plus the fact that you were dead-tired from the day’s adventures — put you right to sleep. Well, you may be all grown up now, but you can still relive those days — and bonus: no need for matching uniforms. When summer was just beginning to hint its arrival, we told you about the best hotels stateside for pitching a tent (and we threw in a Botswana property just for good measure). So this time, we’re focusing solely on international destinations where you can experience a new kind of summer camp-like getaway that’s adults-friendly (and most are kid-friendly, too). Check out our top picks for outdoorsy, campy properties outside the U.S.

Camping Village Rochette, Tuscany

Camping Village Rochette

Billed as a high-end camping village, this property has some fun amenities — a striking pool, a Turkish bath, and tennis courts — with bungalows of various sizes spread out over a large wooded area about 500 meters from the beach. Some of the newer, larger bungalows are on the luxurious side; ones at lower price points are a little on the shabby end (although they may be more reminiscent of a summer camp stay than the others). The property offers numerous play areas for kids, as well as daytime and nighttime activities, and it has an on-site market so guests can make use of the in-room kitchens. The hotel also provides a shuttle to the nearby seaside town of Castiglione della Pescaia.

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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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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 »

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Planning a European getaway is one of the travel world’s greatest pleasures. Explorers envision romantic strolling in Paris, tapas tasting in Barcelona, and museum-hopping in London. But just as daydreaming turns into legitimate agenda-forming, sticker shock often backslaps like a champion street fighter. The Euro and the Pound are a tough pill to swallow for American and Canadian vacationers, but Europe isn’t all sky-high prices; we promise there are actually excellent deals to be found across the pond, especially when you plan your escape to miss peak season. We scoured our favorite cities for 3+ pearl hotels that come in under $150 a night in mid-September – the perfectly not-too-hot, not-too-cold, not-too-crowded time to visit Europe!

Conscious Hotel Museum Square, Amsterdam

Conscious Hotel Museum Square

Price: $148 for a 3-pearl property

The Conscious Hotel proves you don’t have to go ultra-budget or far-flung to get a good deal in Amsterdam. This quirky, eco-themed hotel is located within walking distance of the Van Gogh Museum and local tram stations for a quick ride to the city’s historic center. The inviting hotel earns points for its large-for-Amsterdam sized rooms, natural light, and modern décor. Guests drawn by the eco theme will enjoy the organic daily breakfast, tree photo murals, and on-site bike rentals.

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Europe is home to some of the world’s most luxurious properties. From exclusive boutiques to expansive castles, these hotels know how to cater to the rich and famous — if not royalty, itself. Now, you may not own a tiara, but that doesn’t mean you can’t at least dream of laying your head to rest at one of these penultimate establishments. And if you decide to do more than dream, please be sure to pack us in your suitcase: It would be worth it to get back inside these 12 uber-luxurious properties.

1. Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam 

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The Conservatorium Hotel delivers a true five-pearl experience in Amsterdam‘s residential Museum Quarter. It’s housed in a 100-year-old former bank building, and the hotel’s warm, modern design melds seamlessly with the structure: The stunning atrium lobby, for example, is industrial-chic, featuring wood, brick, and glass. The rooms are decorated in earthy neutrals and every detail was considered, from the placement of the electrical outlets to the reading lights by the bed to the high-tech controls for the lighting and blinds. The big, modern fitness center, stylish indoor pool, and lovely spa, all located below ground, are highlights. It’s a premier choice for luxury travelers willing to trade a central location for added space and quiet. Read More »

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Ok, it’s time for some real talk. We here at Oyster adore Hawaii. And, of course, we love Paris – any day of the year. But as travel experts, not only do we look forward to returning to destinations that will forever stand the test of time, but we also strive to uncover lesser-known, and lesser-thought-of, destinations that will really knock our — and your — socks off. When it comes to honeymoons, we know couples look for something (and somewhere) romantic and charming, but how about – originalThere are plenty of gorgeous spots around the globe, but we love a duo that’s not afraid of going slightly off book in the pursuit of a one-of-a-kind getaway. Here we’ve selected nine dream picks for an atypical honeymoon that’s anything but ordinary — just like your love, right?

1. Flam, Norway: Fretheim Hotel

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The tiny village of Flam is located in a valley surrounded by steep mountains. It’s the final destination for the Flam Railway, which visitors take through the mountains to reach the village, and is considered one of the most scenic train stops in Europe. From Flam, you can also catch a cruise to the Sognefjord, which is arguably the most beautiful and famous fjord in Norway. Couples choosing this atypical getaway can also choose an aytpical hotel: The Fretheim Hotel dates back to the late 19th century, and its common spaces have charm to spare. The hotel makes the most of its unique, naturally beautiful location with soaring glass windows in the lobby and restaurant that frame the mountains. Read More »

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The term “boutique hotel” can be applied to a host of very different properties — whether quaint or trendy, traditional or avant-garde. But they all have at least one thing in common: They’re intimate, and fewer rooms means fewer guests get to experience them, so staying at one can feel like discovering a secret hideaway. But secrets are no fun if you don’t get share them — so we’re spilling the beans on 11 of our favorite boutiques across Europe.

Draycott Hotel, London

Draycott Hotel, London

Draycott Hotel, London

This 35-room combo of Edwardian townhouses is warm and intimate with a country home feel, and in a great location for exclusive West End shopping. With wonderful boutique perks such as the free English afternoon tea (guests at other hotels will have to pay at least a £15 premium to enjoy such a tradition), free pre-dinner champagne, and free hot chocolate before bed, it’s hard to find much at the Draycott to complain about. Unless, of course, your priorities are a pool and fitness center, both of which the hotel lacks. Read More »

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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.

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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.

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