Naples

We love whenever we can get a peek into the lives of the rich and famous, and we find it particularly thrilling to visit the haunts of timeless Hollywood stars and hallowed, storied authors (excuse the pun) of yore. After all, there’s something about the celebs of the past that’s just so much more elegant and refined — even in their infamous debauchery — than those of today’s tabloids. Fortunately, luxurious, historic hotels make it possible to revisit the good ole days, and we find ourselves especially interested in the Mediterranean spots they’d jet off to. So here we bring you five iconic jetsetter getaways in the Mediterranean.

Santa Caterina Hotel, Amalfi Coast

Santa Caterina Hotel

While most of the Amalfi hotels can claim excellent views across the coast, the 66 room-and-suite Santa Caterina Hotel has got five-star features, harmonious antique style, and fragrant gardens. Built against Amalfi’s seaside cliffs in 1880 as a home residence and turned into a hotel in 1904, this luxury property was once a favorite getaway of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and in more recent days, has welcomed celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The Santa Caterina’s four generations of ownership have treated her well, preserving historic elements while successively and successfully adding modern comfort and style.  Guests can take advantage of the wellness center, exclusive swimming pool access, and gym. Dining options range from the elegant Restaurant Santa Caterina to the more casual Al Mare eatery, along with an expansive wine cellar. This property is brand new on Oyster!

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Many hotels were not born as hotels. Some first served as prisons, or hat factories, or even lemon distilleries. And some had, shall we say, loftier first lives — as the residences (often, the second, third, or fourth homes) of royalty. That’s right. We’ve stayed at hotels — from the Amalfi Coast to the Irish countryside – that were once the official residences of royals, but have since shed their former titles to serve the lowlier, “ill-bred” set like us. But fortunately, we’ve still been given the royal treatment at each. Check out these eight gorgeous hotels that kings, queens, and counts once called home.

Hotel Palazzo Murat, Amalfi Coast

palazzo murat

Unlike most hotels in the cliffside town of Positano that require a steep walk to reach the beach and town center, the Palazzo Murat is located smack in the town center’s pedestrian zone. It dates back to the 17th century, and for a while it was the extravagant summer home of Napoleon’s brother-in-law and King of Naples, Gioacchino Murat. Its historic opulence is evidenced by intricately cut stone doors and window frames, refurbished tile mosaics, and wooden furniture. With a pristine pool and some nice freebies, Palazzo Murat is ideal for travelers who want to stay in historic lodgings in the heart of the action — but it lacks the gorgeous ocean views of nearby cliffside hotels.

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For travelers on a budget, a jaunt to the Mediterranean might seem off limits. Known for its gorgeous scenery, temperate climate, sumptuous cuisine, and sky-high price tags, the area is often thought of as a playground exclusively for the rich and famous. But we believe everyone deserves a fabulous vacation and a trip to the Mediterranean is, well, fabulous! So our team of Oyster investigators has searched high and low to find hotels across the Mediterranean that are a little more wallet-friendly  than you’d expect. (We don’t expect any thanks and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves but, sure — you’re welcome). Here are 11 of our favorites.

Villaggio Colostrai, Sardinia

Villaggio Colostrai

Villaggio Colostrai is a budget traveler’s best bet in Sardinia. The hotel offers a free breakfast buffet, nightly activities for adults and children, and free parking. Rooms are pretty basic, and the hotel doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, but its manicured grounds and incredible pool, with sweeping views of the Mediterranean, will certainly make up for any shortcomings.

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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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There’s something undeniably sexy about the Mediterranean: The sea breezes, the storied history, the beautiful architecture, the friendly people, the delicious cuisine, and — without a doubt — the sweeping views, of both city and sea, certainly don’t hurt either. We’ve made our way along the winding coast, from Spain’s Costa del Sol to the Greek island of Mykonos, and have found that the Mediterranean can certainly set the scene for romance — as can many of its luxury hotels. Here are a dozen beautiful, romantic properties in the Mediterranean that are perfect for a sexy escape.

Myconian Ambassador Hotel & Thalasso Spa Center, Mykonos

Myconian Ambassador

Myconian Ambassador Hotel & Thalasso Spa Center is a luxury hotel (it’s part of the Relais & Chateaux chain) with 70 rooms overlooking Platis Gialos. Guests seem to love the hotel’s little extras, such as juice at check-in and ice pops by the pool. Guest rooms are chic, white, and airy, and offer ocean views. The hotel has an infinity-edge outdoor pool, and a restaurant serving Mediterranean, Greek, and Mykonos dishes. The indoor spa offers guests a free, daily thalassotherapy session, and the hotel has a fitness center with several weight and cardio machines. Free shuttle service to the airport is available. It’s a short walk to the beautiful Platis Gialos Beach, and Mykonos Town is a 12-minute drive from the hotel.

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Relais Blu Belvedere

The 11-room Relais Blu Belvedere is an upscale boutique in the village of Marciano-Termini with gorgeous…oh, and we mean gorgeous…sea views. The hotel has an infinity pool open during the summer and there’s a gourmet restaurant on-site serving land and sea tasting menus. All rooms — breezy and modern with white and blue decor — have sea views. The outdoor terrace — also decorated in mostly white with accents of marine blue — is effortlessly stylish, and an ideal spot for a drink overlooking the Gulf of Naples and Isle of Capri. Plus, hotel is less than a 30-minute drive from Sorrento, making day trips easy and a must-do. See more beautiful (and blue!) pics of the Relais Blu after the jump >>

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Getting married is so exciting and wonderful…and stressful….and expensive — are we starting to sound like your father? After all, saying “I do” to your significant other also means saying yes to a reception hall, a caterer, and half-a-trillion other details like flowers, place settings, you name it. While the wedding will certainly be one of the happiest moments of your life, after all that you’ll deserve an epic honeymoon that will kick off your married bliss — and won’t run you straight through your savings. Whether you’re looking for a getaway where you can get more bang for your buck, or are willing to sacrifice a few bells and whistles in the hotel amenities department in order to visit some of the world’s hottest honeymoon destinations, we’ve got ten great spots for you (and your wallet).

hawaii

1. Hawaii: Kauai Beach Resort 

Few destinations are more “classic honeymoon” — or really even “classic vacation” than Hawaii. Among the state’s islands, Kauai — with it’s lush, wild mountainous terrain — is arguably the most beautiful and relaxing for a honeymoon. But that doesn’t mean it has to cost you an arm and a leg. The secluded Kauai Beach Resort is a great budget option, featuring large rooms with gorgeous views of the sun rising over a rugged beach, a sand-bottom pool with a waterslide, and a romantic bar with live music. It’s an excellent choice for a quiet, low-key Hawaiian honeymoon. The cherry on top? Rates consistently hover around $150 per night.  Read More »

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Happy St. Patty's Day!

Image by Yuri Kuzin/iStock Photo.

Erin Go Bragh, everyone! (FYI: That means “Ireland Forever.”) With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, you’re definitely in need of a watering hole to throw back a Guinness (or two, or three) this weekend — or at least an Irish pub to fill up on some Black & White pudding. We’re pretty excited about all the beef stew and Bailey’s we plan on imbibing on March 17th; if you still need a place to celebrate, try out one of these Irish pubs in a city near you. From the Emerald Isle itself all the way to the DR, we promise a good time — and at least a few Irish Car Bombs.
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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Miami is one of the U.S.’s most celebrated metropolises, a Cuban-influenced coastal city on the Southern tip of Florida, known as the “gateway to the Americas.” But Miami’s wild reputation and glamorous lifestyle can really wear on the locals (and their bank accounts). With its high-brow art scene, luxurious shopping, and A-list clubs, Miami is an energetic, ultra-lively hub for young partiers and jet-setting tourists — but to escape the rowdy scene, southern Floridans have several spots to flock to within the Sunshine State for some much-needed R&R. Put on you sexiest string bikini (or Speedo), pack your bags, and jump in the whip — we’ve got some miles to cover.

Road Trip #1: Miami to Key West

  • Total Driving Time: 3 hours, 11 minutes
  • Distance Covered: 161.7 miles
  • Take This Trip If: It’s been too long since you’ve last passed out in a hammock with margarita in hand.
Key West is known for extreme leisure

Key West is known for moving at an...errr... leisurely pace.

Casa Marina Resort is island luxury at its finest.

Eden House boasts beautiful grounds at an affordable price

There’s a reason even the most sunny of Floridians love visiting Key West: Its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make it one of the best vacation destinations in the country. Miami residents may get their share of water sports and authentic Cuban cuisine, but Key West maintains a much slower pace. The island boasts warm weather year-round thanks to its Southernmost U.S City status, which even steamy Miami can’t compete with. For a supremely luxurious experience, the Casa Marina Resort, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, offers a sophisticated setting while maintaining a chill vibe with its poolside bar, beach hammocks, and lush grounds. Although not quite a steal, the Eden House is offers a variety of amenities at a fraction of Casa Marina’s price. Within the beautiful grounds, guests can enjoy complimentary happy hour, outdoor pool (make sure to apply your FREE sunscreen!), koi ponds, hammocks, or barbecue on the small rolling grill. What more do you need for some fun in the sun?

  • Top Driving Tip: Be prepared for Seven Mile Drive to the Keys to feel like Seven Hour Drive. The bridge spanning the Florida Keys is usually heavily congested, but does offer some of the most scenic views of the Altantic Ocean just about everywhere.

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Matzoh for Passover

Credit: iStock Photo

 

 

Passover means the Jewish population is ditching bread — or anything leavened with yeast — for eight days starting next week. And for many, this requires completely cleaning out one’s kitchen, or, spending a week away from their non-Kosher-for-Passover home in favor of a holiday-friendly hotel. Luckily, some seriously luxurious spots are offering Parve fare along with a week’s worth of R&R. Check out our choices for Passover vacations after the jump!

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