Napa Valley

We kind of hate to be sharing our best-kept secrets, but it’s our job, after all. So today we’re opening the vault of our favorite hidden gem hotels in California. From quaint, oft-overlooked boutiques in Los Angeles to tucked-away spots just minutes from the beaches of Carmel, we have nine picks for our favorite unknown (until today) hotels in the Golden State. Just please use some precaution when passing on the details — we don’t want to have to share these spots with just anyone.

1. Tradewinds Carmel

Surrounded by lush foilage, Tradewinds is a quiet sanctuary just a short drive from the beach.

The 28-room Tradewinds Carmel has a Zen vibe throughout the hotel — from the courtyard, complete with Buddha statues, a small waterfall, and a tranquil fire pit, to the rooms, decorated with Asian printsstalks of bamboo, and orchids. The rooms are large and feature well-decorated bathrooms with nice soaking or Jacuzzi tubs, but like many small hotels in Carmel, the Tradewinds lacks a fitness center and a spa (though in-room spa treatments are available). Still, it’s a quaint, cozy pick and is just a short drive from the beach.

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As we’ve said before, a vacation just isn’t a vacation without delicious food and delicious views. And when you can have both together, well, that’s a match made in culinary heaven. Back in August, we gave you a peak at five hotel restaurants with scrumptious food set against amazing backdrops — and now we add eight more restaurants to that list. Dig in!

Lounge at the La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences, Guatemala

Lounge at the La Reunion Golf Resort & Residences

It doesn’t have to be fancy to have great views – and delicious food. This luxury golf resort in Guatemala is surrounded by four volcanoes, two of them being active. While the Sky Bar and the upscale restaurant also have views of the volcanoes, we love the laid-back, al fresco lounge, where diners can grab a burger and sip on a smoothie (the lounge’s specialty). During the weekends, the lounge often hosts Guatemalan buffets and barbecues.

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Love is in the air. After all, February is the month of love and Valentine’s Day is the day of love, so we can’t help but daydream about romantic getaways: Over-the-top luxury in Paris, quaint beachfront boutiques in Jamaica, sexy spots in New York City – they all mean romance to us. It may be a little late to be booking a romantic stay for this Valentine’s Day, but it’s never the wrong time to start planning your next romantic vacation  à deux (especially if you’re in the doghouse for forgetting about today — this should help you out). Get inspired by our picks for the 10 most romantic hotels in the world, below or at USA Today.

 Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris

This Eiffel Tower view is the perfect backdrop to a romantic night in.

You can’t think of romantic getaways and not consider Paris. The City of Love is full of romantic hotels, big and small, but Hotel Plaza Athenee outshines the others in setting the mood for couples. Nothing says romance like a view of the Eiffel Tower from your luxurious suite, and that’s just what you get at this iconic hotel. The 146 rooms and 45 suites are decorated in classic Art Deco style — picture draped curtains, gilded wall panels, and crystal chandeliers — with modern touches like flat-screen TVs and marble baths. And the top-notch Dior Institute spa features tons of couples’ treatments. Finish the day with a romantic meal at one of the six distinct restaurants.

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Ever dreamed of sleeping in a castle? Check out all 15 of Oyster's bucket list stays.

Ever dreamed of sleeping in a castle? Check out all 15 of Oyster's bucket list stays.

If you’re like most of us, you probably have a dream trip tucked in the back of your mind — the improbable fantasy hotel stay that will happen one day down the road when you have the time/money/etc. Maybe. But now that we’ve all survived the Mayan apocalypse and are busy working on New Year’s resolutions, Oyster has a resolution challenge for you that you probably won’t mind keeping. In 2013, don’t put off that trip you’re planning to do before you die any longer. Because if the Mayans taught us anything, it’s that we could be dead tomorrow, right? To help you take the plunge, we’ve compiled 15 incredible and utterly unique hotel stays that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

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Who hasn’t dreamed of traveling like royalty, sleeping in some of the world’s most expensive suites, and eating in Michelin-starred restaurants? The time and money for that kind of trip can be tricky to come by, but it’s always good to be ready just in case the opportunity arises, right? We here at Oyster have been lucky enough to have visited thousands of hotels around the globe and across the states. The U.S. is known for having high standards when it comes to hotels, and hotels stateside offer some of the most decadent services around. So we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite luxury properties in the States for those planning a luxe trip — and for those who just like to dream. Enjoy!

The St. Regis New York

Rooms feature decadent decor and opulent bathrooms.

Rooms feature decadent decor and opulent bathrooms.

There are dozens of ultra-luxurious hotels in New York, but The St. Regis is second to none, with a refined atmosphere, extraordinary service that includes butlers on call 24-hours, Clefs d’Or concierges, a signature bath menu, gorgeous guest rooms, a great Fifth Avenue location (the better for shopping), and a stunning Beaux Arts lobby. (Phew! That was a long list.) It won’t come cheap, but the level of luxury offered here is not found in any other hotel in the city.

  • Our favorite luxe amenity: The packing and unpacking services offered by the guest’s personal butler

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The Ocean Crystal Wedding Chapel at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort

When it comes to destination weddings, the options can seem endless (and exhausting). Couples can choose to wed beachside or poolside, in the woods or atop a mountain. But sometimes sticking to tradition can be just the ticket, even if you are in an exotic locale. That’s why many hotels around the globe offers gorgeous chapels for nuptials. We picked some of our favorites for saying “I do,” so get the wedding marches ready: It’s time to walk down the aisles of our favorite hotel chapels.

 

 

 

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The pool at Auberge Du Soleil provides a tranquil environment with plush lounge chairs and pretty grounds.

The pool at Auberge Du Soleil provides a tranquil environment with plush lounge chairs and pretty grounds.

The gorgeous Auberge Du Soleil, a luxury inn snuggled into Rutherford’s rolling hills, is one of the most exclusive (and expensive) destinations in California wine country. Despite its intimate size (it has just fifty rooms), the Auberge has all the amenities of a larger resort: a 7,000-square-foot luxury spa, a lovely pool, and a Michelin-star restaurant. Views of the surrounding countryside are phenomenal, the grounds are lush and peaceful, and the cozy, upscale rooms all come with huge terraces — and, in most, fireplaces and soaking tubs. It’s a truly special, romantic retreat, and it’s location is convenient for exploring Napa Valley — but we’d have a hard time tearing ourselves away from the heated, year-round pool. So as we say every week: sit back, relax, and soak up the goodness that is the Auberge Du Soleil.

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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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As obviously travel-biased folks, we cannot understand how a bride can spend an average of $30,000 on a wedding — instead of on an incredible vacation. But hotels these days are making it easier than ever to do both, that is, honeymoon and wed at the very same location. Check out five of the most luxurious destination wedding escapes around — brides, we promise you’ll be drooling to get away instead.

1. Fairmont Mayakoba, Riviera Maya

El Puerto Restaurant at the Fairmont serves up delicious Mexican grub.

The adults-only infinity pool is perfect for soaking up some sun post-nuptials.

With beautiful architecture and grounds, the Fairmont Mayakoba is the most picturesque spot to wed on the Playa del Carmen in Mexico, and few properties in the area can match the unrivaled level of privacy the resort offers. Although rooms are set amidst lagoons and tropical forests, they’re well-equipped and modern featuring upscale bathrooms with glass-enclosed showers and separate jetted tubs.

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School may be back in session (groan…), but students don’t have to wait until Spring Break for their next set of adventures.  Though most colleges encourage students to venture out of the classroom for hands-on experience in with their majors, finding the funds isn’t easy on a student loan budget. That’s why we’ve found amazing value destinations for college students in need of a little field training. So close the books and get out on the road instead — it’s time to put those lessons into play!

Your Major: Business
The Place to Visit: Atlanta

Atlanta is an "alpha city" driven by several Fortune 500 companies

With a $304 billion economy and the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S., Atlanta is one of the most business-driven cities in the country. Hotlanta is known as an “alpha” city (i.e., an important economic city) thanks to major brands like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Delta Airlines, and UPS setting up headquarters in the Georgia capital. So for business students trying to get some early networking experience, Atlanta is the best city to start handing out cards.

In the heart of Atlanta’s downtown Business District, this Marriott is an affordable option on a student budget, and boasts an impressive gym and business center – perfect for power-lunch prepping. Read More »

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