Europe is a popular destination year-round, and it becomes all the more popular as the temperatures rise and students and families opt to travel abroad during their spring and summer vacations. Those who have an extended amount of time off (and, of course, the cash to afford it) can visit numerous cities during one trip, but others with limited time and funds must decide upon one location — which can be a tricky feat. So we’ve come up with an expert guide for how to spend six months in Europe; whether you can take half a year and explore a handful of cities, or you have just a weekend in which to get away, we’ll tell you the best European destination for each month — starting right now with February!
February in Venice
Venice’s Carnival is one of the most famous festivals in the world, and every February locals and tourists crowd the streets of the city to let loose before Lent begins. This year the celebration kicks off on February 15th and runs for two and a half weeks; parades, contests, special exhibits, and ceremonies take place along the Grand Canal.
Where to Stay: Hotel Al Sole
This boutique hotel may have simple — verging on bland — rooms, but canal views, a charming courtyard, and a great location — the hotel is housed in a 15th-century mansion within walking distance of numerous sights — make Hotel Al Sole a solid pick.
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Many people will spend the holidays at home or visiting family, but for some, it has become tradition to spend the time on vacation. Just because you’re staying in a hotel doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on holiday cheer; in fact, these amazing holiday hotels around the globe go above and beyond to spread the holiday spirit. Think: welcome mugs of hot chocolate, elaborate Christmas decorations, visits from Santa, carol singing, and more. Feeling Christmas-y yet?
The New York Palace is one of the best hotels for enjoying Christmas in New York City. It offers a prime location right next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (which has Christmas masses) and about a block away from the giant tree and famous skating rink at Rockefeller Center. It also has guards in toy-soldier-style uniforms next to the stunning outdoor Christmas tree (they are happy to pose for photos!) and a Nutcracker brunch at Villard Michel Richard. Read More »
Sometimes spa treatments tip over the edge of relaxing and enter the realm of downright strange. From fish pedicures to snow rooms, hotels around the globe are offering unique (and kinda weird) options for guests to indulge in. Some might swear by these alternative services, others may be skeptical — but we at Oyster will try (almost) anything once! Here, we’ve rounded up the craziest spa services we’ve come across during our travels. Take a look and prepare to get pampered in a whole new way!
The Treatment: Sparience Oxygen Bubble
The Spa Hotel: Gran Hotel La Florida, Barcelona
The Sparience Oyxgen Bubble experience is stress-reducing.
At the Zen Zone Spa in Barcelona, guests can try out the Sparience Oyxgen Bubble. Meant to relieve stress and minimize injury recovery time, these bubbles are filled with 99.5 percent pure oxygen, which should induce intense mental and physical relaxation. The sculpted AlphaSphere bed combines color, shape, and light with sound, vibrations, and warmth to increase the effects of the treatment. It all sounds well and good, but doesn’t it remind you a bit of this John Travolta classic? Read More »
Ever dreamed of being king or queen of a castle? Lord or lady of the manor? Well, you’re not the only one — and plenty of hotels around the world can make that dream come true. We scouted out nine luxury hotels that were formerly the elaborate private homes of blue bloods, aristocrats, and royals, from an Irish castle to a Gatsby-era Gold Coast mansion. Feelin’ fancy? Then check these out.
Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Ireland
This charming stone manor house dates to the 18th century and the 450-acre country estate embodies the sort of wild country beauty that Connemara is famous for. Past owners of the lands have included the O’Flaherty clan (the 16th century “Pirate Queen,” Grace O’Malley, married into the clan and was one of its more noteworthy members); Richard Martin (a member of Parliament nicknamed Humanity Dick for founding the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals); and the Indian Maharaja, Ranji, who bought the estate in 1922. Read More »
Thanks to our friends at the Captivate Network, you can catch this story in your office elevator this week! And don’t miss Captivate’s Summer Fridays Sweepstakes!
Planning a European getaway this summer? These cities are some of our top picks for the summer months. Whether you’d rather chill on Barcelona’s beaches or explore Rome’s many outdoor ruins, warm weather makes all the difference in these spots.
Barcelona is one of Europe’s most vibrant cities, with hopping nightlife, excellent cuisine, and beautiful Gothic and Modernist architecture. But it also has a prime location on the Mediterranean sea, with beaches such as La Barceloneta accessible right in the city limits — making this a popular summertime travel pick.
- Oyster’s Pick for Where to Stay: Ohla Hotel, for its stunning rooftop pool, great for a summertime dip Read More »
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
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 »
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
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 »
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
- 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 »
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