Los Angeles

America’s Most Haunted Bars

by Guest on October 23, 2014

This post comes from our partners at Travel + Leisure

Here’s one way to ensure a bar will be haunted: open it in a former morgue. That’s the case with Captain Tony’s Saloon in Key West, FL, also a former speakeasy, where you may find yourself sipping gin and tonic next to a grave—or a ghost.

“Ghosts tend to go to places they frequented when they were alive,” says California-based Loyd Auerbach, author of A Paranormal Casebook: Ghost Hunting in the New Millennium. “Consequently, places like bars, where people gather for social reasons or for other personal reasons, are often the target sites for the disembodied.”

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Every city seems to have a haunted bar and an intriguing story behind it. The ghostly presence can often be traced back to an erstwhile love affair or, sadly, the result of a grizzly murder. In Austin, TX, the victim of a bar fight has been causing mischief at The Tavern for decades, changing the TV channels or banging dishes in the kitchen. And outside of Las Vegas, a gambler killed when caught cheating still roams the poker tables at Pioneer Saloon.

Still, some ghost tales are taller than others. Jim Fassbinder, who leads ghost tours in San Francisco, says: “There’s a bunch of haunted bar stories out there mostly promoted by barkeeps who know a well-told ghost story keeps ’em drinkin’ and gets the barkeep a tip.”

Not so at Stone’s Public House in Massachusetts, where paranormal experts confirmed eerie happenings the owner had noticed. It’s one of our picks for the most haunted bars in the nation—and you might want to consider a nice tip, after all, if you want to keep the resident spirits happy.

See tons of photos of haunted bars after the jump >>

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It’s almost November, which has us thinking about elections and presidents – even if that vote is a couple of years away. While leading the country is one of the harder jobs you can have, it does come with a few perks. We imagine the extensive traveling is exhausting, but at least it gives presidents the chance to see some amazing places and stay in some of the world’s most luxurious hotels: Four-poster beds, dining rooms, and spacious bathrooms are always on the checklist. We’ve been lucky enough to get to peek inside some of these fabulous properties and their stunning suites – that we can only dream about. Here are 12 hotels throughout the United States and abroad where former U.S. presidents (and the current one!) have checked in; if you can’t book one of these grand rooms, you can at least look through our thousands of photos of places that presidents from William Howard Taft to Barack Obama have made their short-term home.

Palace Hotel, San Francisco

Palace Hotel

Boasting ample turn-of-the-20th-century elegance and 550 rooms on eight floors (we’re digging these stately corridors), the Palace is aptly named — it is indeed palatial. But other than a nice indoor pool and an elaborate Sunday brunch, few features distinguish this business-oriented Starwood from its competitors. Expect, of course, that eight U.S. presidents have visited the Palace, including both Roosevelts and Warren G. Harding. The hotel’s Presidential Suite is truly worthy of a country’s leader, featuring antique furnishings like marble-lined fireplaces, a dining room table and chairs, and a gorgeous wooden piano.

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apartmenttherapy

Maxwell Ryan, founder of Apartment Therapy, knows a thing or two about turning up interior charm. He started out his career as an “apartment therapist,” transforming homes into beautiful, organized, and healthy-to-live-in spaces. You could say he’s a bit of a hybrid — part interior designer and part life coach. His style is about comfort, simplicity, and a lack of clutter. Today, his website has become the go-to site for design inspiration. Since our main decor interest here at Oyster.com is hotel-focused, we asked Maxwell to turn his creative eye towards hotel design. We couldn’t wait to hear of his favorite hotel spots around the globe.

See his top picks after the jump >>

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For true foodies, a vacation that doesn’t involve mouth-watering cuisine is hardly worthy of the title. In fact, food can often be a major focus of a trip; it’s hardly uncommon for the taste connoisseurs among us to plan a foodcation. And in our opinion, it should all start with your hotel. If you stay somewhere with a truly phenomenal restaurant right on the premises, your foodcation will be off to a wonderful start. Whether you’re heading to New York City for its famous fine dining, California wine country for its earthy farm-to-table fare, or Mexico for an elaborate upscale meal on the beach, we’ve got a first-rate foodie hotel for you. Take a look at the top hotel restaurants we’d travel for in the U.S., Mexico, and Caribbean.

Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg, California

Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel HealdsburgCharlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen is one of the best – and best-known – restaurants in the Sonoma area, and for good reason. The farm-to-table, seasonal menu features items such as California Sea Bass with sweet corn fondue and Sonoma County Liberty Duck with crispy sunchokes. The restaurant’s outdoor terrace is situated under a shady arbor.

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Even though it’s a few months away from Valentine’s Day, we’re always looking for ways to have a romantic weekend — especially a romantic long weekend. And thanks to Columbus Day, we have the perfect opportunity coming right up. One of the best (and easiest…and least expensive) ways to turn up the heat is to just stay put in your own city — but head to a luxurious hotel with features designed to heighten the romance. Staycations with a significant other can be the perfect way to experience some of the best properties your city has to offer; the true creme de la creme of your town is almost guaranteed to have cozy rooms, a spa, and a high-quality restaurant or two. At the twelve hotels that make our list, locals/guests won’t need to leave the property — and won’t want to — with all the couple-centric features. And if you don’t live in one of these locales, fear not; you can always hop in a car or on a plane (although the “inexpensive” aspect might get knocked out).

New York City: The Greenwich Hotel

Greenwich Hotel

This virtually flawless 88-room TriBeCa hotel (opened in 2008 by Robert de Niro, among others) offers large, homey rooms, breathtaking design, and very attentive service. Even better: free Wi-Fi; free minibar snacks; and free Wii video games by request are also available. The Greenwich feels like a lush oasis in the middle of the once-industrial neighborhood, with a plant-filled courtyard, the luxurious Shibui spa, and an underground, lantern-lit pool beneath a 250-year-old Japanese farmhouse roof. The exceptional rooms, each uniquely designed to evoke an Italian home, and the hip rustic Italian restaurant, Locanda Verde, complete the romantic experience. Plus, you can skip the lengthy wait for a reservation at the restaurant and just order it up for room service!

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Kids may not fret about mortgages and car payments but they’ve still got plenty of reason to de-stress. There’s dating blues, red-marked math exams, bad selfies, embarrassing parents, Justin Bieber drama — and that’s just the short list! So why not treat them to a little time at the spa — just like Mom and Dad! Yes, there are plenty of hotels out there that cater not only to adults but also to tots who need a decompressing massage or a pick-me-up pedicure. Here are our six top picks for hotel spas where kiddies can come along.

Nickelodeon Suites Resort, Orlando

Nickelodeon Suites After your kid has been walking for hours around a hot Orlando theme park, those little feet could use a nice soak! But the Nick Suites‘ kid spa offers way more than just pedicures and polish. Young guests can do everything from getting ‘inked’ with airbrush tattoos to requesting funky hair braids and feather extensions. Aside from having a super cool spa, this property is also one of Orlando’s best options for families. The property’s 777 suites, all with kitchens or kitchenettes, are spacious and well-designed to sleep families. Bonus: the on-site water park is the perfect spot to show off those freshly-painted toes!

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Suburbia often gets overlooked, especially by those planning a vacation – often an adventurous vacation purposely away from the cookie cutter homes and manicured lawns that the suburbs are known for. But sometimes, a touch of the familiar can be reassuring when exploring a new city. And hotels outside the city limits — but near enough at hand to get to all of the action with ease — usually come at a fraction of the cost of their city neighbors. In fact, some of Oyster’s favorite hotels call the suburbs home. From New York City to London and beyond, we have found charming hotel options outside of the major city limits that are just waiting to welcome you with open arms and suburban flair. (Trust us, it exists. See for yourself below.)

1. The Box House Hotel
Located in a suburb of: New York City

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New Yorkers are used to commuting. The suburbs give the great isle of Manhattan a chance to really spread out and breathe — as much as one can in one of the five boroughs. Vacationers looking to pinch a few pennies and experience another side of the City that Never Sleeps should explore Manhattan’s neighbors. And for a real dose of Brooklyn, what many (hipsters) consider the best corner of NYC, it doesn’t get more authentic than The Box House Hotel. This former door factory houses 57 apartment-style rooms designed by local Brooklynite Kip Jacobs, who is a friend of the owners. The spacious rooms and lofts (some sleep six) attract families, couples and those conducting business — mostly film crews. Modern kitchens and free extras include bottled water and coffee, rides within a mile-and-a-half radius, and use of the stylish fitness center. This is a hidden gem for those seeking breathing room and easy access to Manhattan. 

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During the summer, it’s almost impossible to stay indoors come happy hour. While the cooler months — spent with friends crowding in cozy bars and huddling by the fire — are fast approaching, there’s still time for some rooftop boozin’ — and fortunately, enjoying the sun and stars with a drink in hand is made easy at some of our favorite hotels. Offering stunning vistas and delicious cocktails, these rooftop bars are destinations unto to themselves in cities far and wide.

1. Refinery Rooftop at The Refinery Hotel, New York City 

refinery

The Refinery Hotel is a stylish urban boutique in New York‘s Garment District, located in a historic building that was once a tea salon and hat factory. The property’s past inspired its present industrial-chic design, and small details such as decorative milliner’s tools pay homage to the building’s former function. The property’s cool rooftop bar — aptly named Refinery Rooftop — offers gorgeous views of the Empire State Building and a rotating menu of seasonal cocktails designed by Alex Ott. Reservations are recommended at this swanky spot where DJs are known to perform on Thursday and Friday nights — but guests of the hotel may have a leg up on getting through the door.  Read More »

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Lights, camera, action! Over the last several decades, hotels have played important roles in the film industry. Some iconic scenes — like Julia Roberts and Richard Gere bathing in Pretty Woman – will forever be a part of cinematic history and were actually filmed at hotels, instead of on sound stages. Most hotels that make it to the big screen are (for obvious reasons) primarily in Los Angeles and New York, but many others across the country get scouted to become shooting locations as well. So we’ve found 9 hotels all over that have been prominently featured in movies. Even if you never become a movie star yourself, you can at least visit these properties and feel like you’re walking through a film set. And sure, you’ll happily sign a few autographs.

Beverly Wilshire Beverly Hills – A Four Seasons Hotel

Beverly Wilshire

Let’s start with the iconic Beverly Wilshire – a top luxury pick for business or leisure, families or couples. With beautiful guest rooms, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, and a great spa, pool, and fitness center — plus doting Four Seasons service, it’s a classic five-star property. The hotel was featured prominently in the 1990 film Pretty Woman and it’s certainly proud of this; you can even borrow one of the many DVD copies from the concierge’s library. In the film, Julia Roberts plays Vivian Ward, a Hollywood prostitute who’s hired by Richard Gere’s wealthy businessman character. Their relationship develops over their week-long stay in the Presidential Suite at the hotel. From the couple soaking in the suite’s luxurious tub to Vivian walking through the lobby with numerous bags from shopping on nearby Rodeo Drive, the hotel received a lot of screen time in the classic rom-com.

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How is it already August?! This summer may be swimming by — we have some pretty hardcore party scars to prove it — but it’s not over yet. The sun is still shining, so in our book that means that there’s still time for clear booze and colorful sundowner cocktails. And, since there are only a few more summer Fridays to squeeze in before the school year starts, here’s a list of hotels that won’t throw salt in your summer party game (but they just might throw it in your margarita!). So, Cheers! Salud! Skål! Proost! Party like the summer’s almost over because, well, we hate to break it to you — but it is.

Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas

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The swank Hard Rock is off the Strip, but it knows how to throw a party, particularly at the pool. Home of Rehab (arguably Vegas’ best pool party), go-go dancers in the casino, live music at The Joint, partying at Vanity nightclub, and stylish cuisine at Nobu or Ago, this sinful Strip property has earned lots of Oyster Awards for partying. Arguably even more so than the Palms, Hard Rock is one of the most unapologetically hedonistic hotels in Las Vegas. It’s a place where wanna-be rock stars and, well, real rock stars come to party, gamble, and trash their hotel rooms. Of course doing so will cost you, or your record company, a fortune.

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