Madrid

Christmas Around the World

by Devon on December 6, 2012

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us (if you can’t tell by all the Target ads), and we’re taking a trip around the world to see how they celebrate in some of our favorite locales. Christmas is a special time all around the globe, whether it’s celebrated with bonfires, dead wrens (yes, you read that right), or just good ole family-style feasts, and we’ve found the best celebrations and places to stay this season. But wherever you go to celebrate the holidays, just remember to say “Merry Christmas,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Joyeux Noel,” or “Froehliche Weihnachten!”

Christmas in the United States

You can't go wrong with Christmas in New York, especially at the Plaza.

For some of the best displays of Christmas spirit, the Big Apple is a premium choice as the host of some of the most celebrated seasonal events in the world. During the one time of year New Yorkers actually don on smile, there is plenty to celebrate — from ice skating at Rockefeller Center to catching the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. For cozy accommodations, The Plaza has some of the most iconic decorations in the city, along with a prime Central Park location near the FAO Schwartz toy store and famed Fifth Avenue shopping. Even Kevin McCallister spent Christmas at the Plaza! Read More »

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As the Hotel-Tell All, Oyster is very well-traveled when it comes to hotels. We’ve seen it all — the good, the bad, and the ugly. So around this time last year, we came up with a list of 11 things we hate about hotels. And trust us, we really hate them (don’t even get us started on daily resort fees…). But tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we realized that, sure, hotels can do some annoying things, but hotels give us plenty to be thankful for, too. So this time, we decided to come up with a list of 11 things we love about hotels.

11. 24-hour room service

Breakfast in bed at The Surrey in New York City

Breakfast in bed at The Surrey in New York City

Even Mom won’t whip up an omelet for us when we just gotta have one at 4 a.m. But at hotels with 24-hour room service, guests can have their pick of tasty treats no matter the time of day or night. And even better than 24-hour room service is 24-hour room service with a menu dreamed up by a celebrity chef. Hotels such as The Surrey and Mercer Hotel, both in New York City, are known for their celebrity chef restaurants and room service menus.

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If you’re one of the millions of people on the eastern seaboard affected by Hurricane Sandy, you’re probably a bit preoccupied this week with power outages, mass transit meltdowns, and such. You may have faced danger or devastating destruction (Red Cross donations here, people), or you may be reveling in your electricity-free vacation from work. (At least until you realize that no electricity means no hot showers — we figured that out the hard way.) But one thing is for sure: Once things are up and running again, and planes are flying to far-away places, it will be time to plan yourself a nice vacation away from this mess. Just be sure to pick a vacation destination that is reliably hurricane-free. Here are some top-notch options, as well as great places to stay while you’re there:

Lake Tahoe, California

Though Lake Tahoe may sometimes get serious snowstorms, the cold waters along the California coast mean that hurricanes almost never make landfall in the state (only two have hit in the last 100 years). When they do hit, it’s typically Southern California that is most affected instead. Lake Tahoe safely sits in northern California, where it has 300 days of sun a year and plenty of great year-round vacation activities — swimming, boating, and hiking in the summer, and skiing in the winter.

Lake Tahoe gets 300 days of sunshine a year.

Oyster.com Hotel Pick: Franciscan Lakeside Lodge

This cluster of cabins right on the lake makes a great value pick. While some rooms are tucked across the street from the lake in a darker, tree-covered area, the lakefront cottages have excellent views and open to the sandy beach and a private pier where guests can swim and play in privacy. Kitchenettes make dining in (and saving money) easy. And the heated outdoor pool (open seasonally) is said to be the largest in North Lake Tahoe.

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The Pool at the W South Beach: Miami, FL

The Pool at the W South Beach; Miami, FL

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The W South Beach has teamed up with Magellan Jets and is offering guests who book a VIP Suite at the hotel discounted rates when chartering flights with the private jet company.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Rihanna kicked Chris Brown out of the hotel where she was staying — the trendy Gansevoort Park Avenue — after she found out he gave papparazzi a head’s up that he’d be meeting up with his former flame.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Langham Hotel London jannounced it will transform its popular Palm Court restaurant into a “Gin Palace” – like the ones Londoners enjoyed in the 1800’s — three nights a week.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? ME Cancun wants you to pamper your pooch with a new package that includes doggy mani/pedis, gourmet treats, massages, toys and a comfy blanket with a hood.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Actor Gene Kelly and author Ernest Hemingway shared cocktails and sushi at the Hotel Wellington’s Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant in 1958.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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The AVE links Madrid with Barcelona and Sevilla in less than 3 hours. Credit: istockphoto/Holger Mette

The AVE links Madrid with Barcelona and Seville in less than 3 hours. Credit: istockphoto/Holger Mette

Visiting our neighbors “across the pond” isn’t just a hop, skip, and a jump that the saying makes it sound: It involves long (and expensive) flights, long lines in customs, and plenty of seat-of-your-pants transfers and transactions. But Europe is a lifetime must-see and Spain is one of its most diverse and fascinating countries. So how do you possibly see all it has to offer during a week-long vacay?  Well, the reliable, high-speed AVE trains certainly help. The country’s top destinations – Barcelona, Madrid and Seville – are all within 3 hours of each other by way of the AVE, which makes it easy and fast to discover this trio of cities in just one trip. Of course you could spend years in the country and still be discovering new spots each day, but our Oyster guide offers a solid itinerary for each city that includes the three attractions you just can’t miss — and still allows you enough time to enjoy some tapas al fresco. And, as hotel experts, we let you know the best places to stay, to boot. Pack your bags — and don’t forget this guide! You’re Spain-bound, baby. Read More »

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Staying at a hotel is all about getting away. And while some hotels make you feel like you’re in a different location, others go a step beyond and transport you to another era. You’ve seen our coverage of historic hotels around the globe, but now it’s time for us to show off the coolest futuristic hotels on Oyster.com. With everything from funky lighting to pod-like bedrooms to mobiles that could orbit in outer space, these hotels are ready for the 22nd century.

The Hotel: nhow Berlin

Lobby at the nhow Berlin

Lobby at the nhow Berlin

  • Why We Love It: The nhow Berlin is an offbeat, creative hotel overlooking the River Spree. This futuristic property has a music theme and offers rare amenities like Gibson guitar room service and two recording studios on-site. Bright colors, psychedelic patterns, and funky-shaped furniture have high visual impact in the lobby, bar, and restaurant. The wild decor is somewhat muted in the rooms, though there’s still plenty of pink, and quirky furniture, as well as amenities such as iPod docks and TVs embedded in mirrors.
  • Fave Futuristic Feature: What’s not to love about the pink UFO-like sculpture in the lobby?

See more photos of the nhow Berlin »

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