New York City

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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openerStarwood’s Aloft brand prides itself on offering modern, fresh, and fun properties, so it’s not much of a surprise that their latest project involves a…futuristic robot?! (Well, maybe it’s a little bit of a surprise.) The “Boltr” — named A.L.O. — is designed to step in when human staff gets backed up at the reception desk. A.L.O also performs basic tasks like moving towels and linens throughout the hotel. It may even deliver your breakfast-in-bed room service order! In lieu of cash, guests are encouraged to tip the bot with reviews and tweets. Positive reviews are rewarded with a little robot dance. It’s hard to tell if this is one more step towards the inhuman direction the hospitality industry is taking (other examples include iPad ordering and express checkout), or just a great way to get the Aloft some publicity. Starwood global brand leader Brian McGuiness has described the robot as having “the work ethic of Wall-E, the humor of Rosey from The Jetsons and [it] reminds me of my favorite childhood robot, R2-D2. We are excited to have it join our team.” There’s no word yet on just how many robots Aloft will roll out or where. [Skift]

Check out some of our favorite Aloft properties after the jump. We’ll be sure to update you on any future robot run-ins >>

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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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We hate to toot our own horn (or do we?), but we here at Oyster are kinda famous for our photo fakeouts. Basically, we put the photos that we took at hotels in person next to the hotels’ marketing photos to see if they line up. Well, spoiler alert: They often don’t. Whether it’s some sneaky cropping, over-the-top staging, or serious editing, marketing photos frequently make properties appear way more luxe (or modern or serene) than they actually are. During our travels we’ve found plenty of hotels guilty of a little marketing magic, and our latest round of fakeouts is no exception. Click through here to see some major fakeouts!

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An old fable tells the tale of the city mouse and the country mouse (or the city oyster and the country oyster in our case — we know, it’s a bit of a stretch). The story ends with a precautionary warning: cities are crowded, dangerous, and unsavory. But, here at Oyster, we’ve never met a city we didn’t like! Though they may be a bit busier than the countryside, cities are hubs of history, culture, and entertainment. So we suggest you leave the quiet country behind and give the city a whirl. Here are eight megacities (cities with populations of over 10 million people) we can’t get enough of.

New York

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Some call it the Big Apple, others the “City That Never Sleeps,” but no matter its name, New York is truly one of the greatest cities in the world. With a population of nearly 24 million people, New York’s magnitude may at first seem daunting, but this city’s crowds are part of its splendor. The large population is incredibly diverse, which means visitors have access to every type of restaurant, bar, and entertainment venue imaginable. Amongst innumerable, unique neighborhoods, visitors will discover iconic skyscrapers, world class museums, fantastic shopping, and all around vibrancy.

Where to Stay: Mandarin Oriental, New York

The Mandarin Oriental is located just across the street from the lively Columbus Circle. With decadent, yet sleek ,decor and sweeping views of Central Park, the Mandarin Oriental is a wise choice for guests seeking a more modern twist on classic upscale choices like The Plaza or The Pierre.

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Remember how exciting it was to go on school trips to the aquarium? Getting an up-close look at marine life – from tiger sharks to stingrays – was always an enchanting experience. Well it turns out aquariums are a fun sight at any age… and they certainly add a tropical, under-the-sea vibe to otherwise bland spaces. That’s why it’s no surprise that a good number of the hotels we have visited have installed fish tanks to add a cool oceanic feature for kids and adults to enjoy without having to suit up. Several of these hotels have gone above and beyond in bringing the awe factor to their aquariums. In typical grandeur Vegas fashion, three of its properties made our list, but you’ll want to visit all seven spots!

Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

Mandalay

The giant, 3,215-room Mandalay Bay offers a wave pool and streaming lazy river pool for kids, as well as a quality spa, lively bar,s and premier cuisine for adults. But everyone can enjoy the 1.6-million-gallon Shark Reef Aquarium with about 2,000 sea creatures on display, including 15 different kinds of sharks. In one of the exhibits, visitors can experience an almost 360-degree view of the fish and sharks swimming about; another displays the bright jellyfish. If just looking isn’t good enough, there’s a popular Touch Pool, where guests can touch sharks, rays, and horseshoe crabs.

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Many hotels that we visit are housed in brand-spanking-new buildings, erected in recent years for the sole purpose of being the site of that “just opened” Marriott or Four Seasons. But some properties, recently opened ones and historic ones alike, instead reinvent old spaces to create the hotels that visitors call home during their vacations. And some of these old buildings have quite the story to tell! From prisons to plantations, the 10 hotels on this list were once the sites of quite different operations, and all have storied – whether eerie or interesting or just downright weird – pasts.

 Liberty Hotel, Boston

Liberty Hotel

For nearly 150 years, this tall granite building was known as the Charles Street Jail and housed some of Boston’s most heinous criminals. In 2007, after a painstaking restoration that preserved elements of the prison design, it reopened as the Liberty Hotel. The result is stunning, with nearly 300 rooms, a 90-foot-tall atrium, winding catwalks, and high, circular windows that flood the lobby with light. The hotel’s popular restaurants and bars play on the jailhouse theme with names like Alibi, Clink, and The Yard.

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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

People have long questioned the whole “the bigger, the better” theory. Most have concluded that it really depends on the circumstances, and we’d have to concur. After all, in our area of expertise (hotels, of course), sometimes a megaresort — packed with activities, restaurants, and enough rooms to host hundreds of reunions at one time — is just what we’re looking for. Other times, we seek the privacy and tranquil vibe of a smaller hotel. And sometimes, we find that the most charming stays are those in absolutely itsy bitsy hotels — boutique properties tucked away in historic townhomes or on the top floors of unassuming edifices. So while even a hotel with nearly 100 rooms can be considered a boutique property, the tiny hotels that make this list all have just four rooms or fewer. Take a peek inside these intimate getaways to discover some truly unique stays.

Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam

Bed and Breakfast

Number of Rooms: Three

The picturesque, off-the-beaten-track Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam is charm itself, located on a leafy canal with picturesque views of traditional canal houses and bridges in a residential area away from throngs of tourists. Inside and out, the Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam is set apart by the owners’ attention to detail. The little added touches such as fresh flowers, free afternoon cakes, chocolates on the pillows, and a carafe of black currant gin in each guest’s room upon arrival help make this B&B an intimate, special spot.

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Fitness centers, outdoor pools and spas are common amenities at hotels these days, but want to know one of our favorite features offered? Live music! We’ve visited quite a few hotels that are a fun place to catch a show, whether you’re a guest or live in the surrounding area. From poolside DJ sets to soulful jazz in a cozy lounge, hotels give their guests a unique way to enjoy the city without leaving the grounds. If you’re someone who loves to kick back and enjoy live music, you’ll definitely want to bookmark these 10 hotels!

Ace Hotel and Swim Club, Palm Springs

Ace Hotel

This upper-middle-range, 180-room hipster haven has a palpable party vibe and frequent music nights with a live DJ. The style is retro, with 70s details such as record players and vinyl in the rooms. The property draws a young crowd and can get quite loud with its purposeful off-the-beaten-path vibe. Their Swim Club members get year-round access to the outdoor swimming hole, gym, spa and poolside happenings like their DJ events and the Reggae Sol party on the last Saturday of each month. Although it gets crowded, lounging by the pool while a DJ spins sounds like a fun way to spend the day to us!

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Okay, so one of the worst things ever is when you’re “enjoying” a spa treatment — but you’re not actually enjoying it because all you can think about is how much time it’s taking and how many things are piling up on your to-do list during your rubdown. Well, those behind the spas at JW Marriott, the Marriott’s top level of luxury hotels, have had the same experience, so they’ve dreamt up a whole new menu of mini spa treatments that last between 12 and 25 minutes. Of course, the new Spa by JW concept will also include traditional treatments, but those in a hurry — who still crave a little R&R — can indulge in brief treatments like the tense shoulders massage or the energy boost massage. And best of all, these treatments require no appointment and take place in express suites, fully-equipped with massage chairs, scent infusers, noise-canceling technology, and cell phone chargers. The first of these treatments will become available in September at the JW Marriott in Houston, and will soon roll out to all Spas by JW. [Hotel Chatter]

See more great pics of some of our favorite JW Marriott spas after the jump >>

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