Legend has it that when Dom Perignon first discovered champagne, he called out, “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” It’s hard to disagree with the Frenchman — a cool glass of bubbly can make even the most stoic person let loose a giggle or a smirk. And this is doubly true on New Year’s Eve. Tonight, 2013 will be rung in with champagne toasts around the world, and the best place to do just that? In a swanky champagne bar right in the comfort of your very own hotel, of course! On-site champagne lounges provide uniquely festive ambiances and make stumbling home post-festivities all the easier. Some of our favorite luxury hotels feature these sophisticated spots, so sit back, pop open a bottle of bubbly, and start spying for someone to kiss at midnight. It’s almost 2013 — Happy New Year!
The PJ Lounge at the Dukes is a classy spot to ring in the New Year.
While Dukes may be famous for its martinis — James Bond-creator Ian Flemming originated the famous “Shaken, not stirred” line here — its newest addition to the fold is serving up the finest champagne and champagne cocktails. The Perrier-Jouet Champagne Lounge (or, more simply, the PJ Lounge) is a stylish space, outfitted in rich greens, with bright pops of pinks and whites, to sip some bubbly. The bar is classic and playful all at once, just as any New Years Eve affair should be. Read More »
Hotel minibars have a bit of a naughty reputation. After all, they tempt and tease world-weary travelers with salty-sweet goodness at all hours of the day, and then come with a double-digit price tag to boot! But sometimes, the items up for grabs can at least provide guests with a moment of amusement. Some hotels feature rather surprising minibar offerings — we’re talking walking sticks and 24-karat gold vibrators. It’s enough to make guests pause in their perusal of the candy selection and say, “Wait, what?” We’ve come across some of the wackiest minibar items during our travels; here are some of our favorites:
Get your groove on at the Thompson Beverly Hills.
At the flashy Thompson Beverly Hills, spending the night with that special someone just got more fashionable. Designer Alexander Wang created special packaging for PROPER ATTIRE condoms, which are for sale at all Thomspon properties, as well as on the brand’s website. Couples pay $5.99 for a pack of three assorted (which include extra large, ultra-thin, and studded — oh my!) and proceeds benefit Planned Parenthood. Read More »
It’s time to get your spook on. Halloween is just two short weeks away, and for many that means shaking out the costumes, buying some candy and cueing the Monster Mash marathon. But for the brave of heart, Oyster’s here to help you choose your spooky itinerary for Fright Night. No matter where you are across the globe, hauntings and mysteries abound that are sure to scare your socks off. From ghost towns to witches’ hideaways, we’ve found some of the best places to spook and be spooked — and where to rest your head (if you can) at the end of the day. But we’d suggest sleeping with one eye open…
Visit a Ghost Town
The American West is rife with these abandoned metropolises that once served as centers for mining and railroad operations. Walking among the now-desolate edifices that line the streets of these ghost towns is like taking a spooky step back in time, and as the nation’s largest unreconstructed ghost town, Bodie, California is the perfect spot to get your frightening fix. Founded in 1859 on the heels of the gold rush, the town’s 200 original structures once housed thousands of residents – families, robbers, miners, gunslingers, prostitutes – but now they stand eerily empty. Visitors come seeking ghostly encounters — or even just great photos, as the abandoned buildings look hauntingly beautiful at night.
The Hotel: Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite
When the sun goes down, the monsters come out to play at Yosemite's Evergreen Lodge.
Located east of Yosemite National Park, Bodie is a fun and spooky visit for campers looking to combine history with mystery this Halloween. And the Evergreen Lodge, a 22-acre cabin resort nestled into the Stanislaus National Forest, is a great spot to call home at the end of the day (if you’re not camping on-site).
Other Haunts: Other ghost towns of the American West worth checking out include Jerome, Arizona (which is well-known for its spectral lore — watch out for the beautiful Sammie Dean!) and South Pass City, Wyoming.
From the cryptic mythology throughout the Mississippi Delta, to the spirits of wartime past down the Atlantic coast, the South has no shortage of spooky adventures. Whether you’re looking for a friendly encounter from the other side, or trying to find a true adrenaline rush by meeting with a tortured (undead) soul, these Southern haunts have plenty of history and unexplained mysteries for thrill-seeking travelers.
Be on the look-out for any "half-headed" cadets at this Charleston hotel
The ghostlore: Charleston prides itself on its chilling past, and it’s no wonder that the town where the Civil War started has its share of lingering souls. One of the city’s most haunted sites is the Embassy Suites hotel in the downtown Historic District. Known as the Old Citadel, the building formerly housed the State Arsenal and military college, which is located just a short drive away nowadays. Legend has it that The Lost Cadet, or “Half Head,” roams the hotel’s halls to this day. The spirit is said to be a young solider missing the top half of his head after losing it to a cannonball. But despite his misfortune, he apparently has a joyful demeanor. Read More »
It’s time to take a bite out of summer. After all, August heralds the start of some of the best food festivals across the globe, giving you the perfect excuse to escape your hometown and chow down on some first-class cuisine. We here at Oyster have the scoop on August’s yummiest of the yum – and the best hotels at which to continue your foodie love affair, of course. So loosen that belt buckle, its chow time.
The Chew: San Francisco’s culinary “who’s who” strut their stuff at this annual festival, which takes place July 30th through August 5th. Throughout the event, four grand tastings will allow you to experience all that the Bay Area’s iconic restaurants and hidden neighborhood gems have to offer, including handcrafted cocktails, wine and beer from local vintners and breweries, and scrumptious dishes from a wide array of cuisines. Later in August, La Cocina presents the San Francisco Street Food Festival, a celebration of San Fran’s best street food (and music). Epicures can expect global fare from 80+ vendors at this event – you definitely won’t go hungry!
Big 4 Restaurant at The Huntington Hotel
The Bed: Old-world grandeur is alive and well at the Huntington Hotel, one of San Francisco’s best boutiques, where rooms are cozy and the staff is attentive. Plus, the hotel’s Big 4 Restaurant provides a swanky continuation of the foodie fun you’ll experience during your trip. While traditional offerings such as crab cakes are available, chef Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls is best known for her use of exotic wild game, including wild paella of crispy frog legs and rabbit-rattlesnake sausage.
The U.S. is known for being ahead of the curve in a lot of things (we’re still feeling a bit patriotic after all of Wednesday’s activities), and that includes making music. Paving the way for the rest of the world – from bluegrass to hip-hop, country to surf rock – cities around the country are famous for putting new music on the map. If you’re music junkies like we are, visit our five favorite U.S. spots to hear live music in a variety of venues — and of course, we’ve included our picks for hotels to stay in once the music’s over.
The City: Los Angeles
L.A. has long been a hub for musicians and mainstay venues on the musical scene are still hot destinations for touring bands, especially those looking to be discovered. In recent years, an influx of young creatives has brought on a whole new age of music that’s less starry-eyed and more visceral.
Hollywood Bowl; Credit: Flickr by Margaret Napier
Where To Hear It:
Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, The Hollywood Bowl is an iconic music venue known for its large outdoor amphitheater and BYOB wine and food policy, which creates a one-of-a-kind atmosphere for viewing big ticket acts such as Animal Collective and The National. On the other side of the spectrum, Hotel Cafe is a dimly lit, intimate space showcasing up-and-coming talent, leaning towards promoting female singer-songwriters like Meiko.
The Pool at The Orlando
Where to Sleep: The Orlando – West Hollywood
Nobody walks in L.A. – except on the rare stretch of street where this cheap but chic hotel is located. Besides prime location, The Orlando offers free Wi-Fi (helpful in planning your nightly outings), two saunas and a pool for post-music show recharging. Plus, it’s pet-friendly for those divas who won’t leave home without their dog. A short drive from Sunset Boulevard, where many of L.A.’s famous venues reside, and well placed for offshoots to hip neighborhoods such as Silver Lake and Echo Park, this hotel is a music lover’s dream.
There’s a lot happening across the pond this summer. London not only celebrated the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II with Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, but the UK is also gearing up to host the 2012 Olympics, with the opening ceremony kicking things off on July 27. Not everyone can fit into Olympic Park, however, and that includes us here at Oyster. So as much as we’d love to watch Michael Phelps sweep another summer games in the flesh, we’ve decided to show a little patriot pride by visiting our favorite Olympic-inspired stateside destinations. Whether they’re spots where Olympians have once stayed, or have a British air about them that’ll transport you to London, we’d argue that they’re (well, almost) worth missing the games for!
Vacation like a champ at the Olympic Village Inn in Lake Tahoe
The Olympic Village Inn in Lake Tahoe
The Olympic Village Inn was home to U.S. Olympians in the 1960s when they underwent training in Squaw Valley for the Winter Games in Rome. At the foothills of a small ski town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the inn has rooms with names such as Chamonix and Kitzbuel — both towns in Europe that have hosted Winter Olympics. The inn offers adventurous guests plenty to do with free bicycle rentals and access to a nearby hiking trail. Read More »
Public Restroom at the Hotel Constanza Barcelona
Who hasn’t ducked into a hotel to make use of a clean public restroom while on vacation? While hotels across the board often have nicer public bathrooms than, say, the local gas station, some hotels’ bathrooms go beyond just clean. Whether employing attractive streamlined design or antique decor, hotels are upping the ante when it comes to their public bathrooms, and we at Oyster have seen the best of the best. Check out our ten favorites in this slideshow.
Most people associate springtime travel with crazy parties like spring break, but these five cities are perfect for visiting this season — and will leave you without the boozy side effects. These our some of our top cities to poke around in while the weather warms up.
Bienville House; New Orleans, LA
Mark Twain once said “In America, there is New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” In what’s arguably one of the most culturally unique cities in the country, it’s easy to see what he meant. Of course, it’s the birthplace of Jazz and home of epic Mardi Gras celebrations, but the city itself has much more depth than that, including legendary cuisine, historic architecture, and a buzzing nightlife. Spring is one of the best times to make your way to NoLa, not only so you can avoid the sweltering summer temperatures, but also so you can take advantage of the New Orleans Jazz Festival, French Quarter Festival, and Bayou Boogaloo.
Editor’s Pick: Bienville House
Check out our other favorite springtime cities after the jump.
Read More »
You may have gotten over themed spots after your tenth birthday party (um, hello, Princess Tea Party Fest), but they’re actually great for some old-fashioned adult fun, too. Hotels across the world have fabulously themed bars that run the gamut from classy to trashy. So we’ve shuffled through the clutter to find the top 10 hotel bars that, despite (or because) of being themed, are super cool. Check out one of our favorites, Stables Bar in London below, and the rest of the cool, kitschy bars here.
Stables Bar at The Milestone Hotel; London, England