New York

Forget no-frills lodging; today’s new brand of hostels offers cool decor and plenty of perks. Sounds too good to be true? Well, we’ve got the scoop on hostels that pack a wow factor with upscale amenities, contemporary comforts, prime locations, and good food. Plus, with fun social scenes and affordable rates, they have all the ingredients for a pleasant stay without breaking the bank. Join us as we step into the (little-known) world of modern hostels.

Hostelling International – New York

hostelling_intl_nyWithin walking distance of Central Park and numerous subway lines, Hostelling International in New York City offers an affordable stay on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. This well-run property has both private and shared rooms, free Wi-Fi, a theater room, game room, café, several lounges and a private patio/garden. To keep guests (mostly in their 20s and 30s) entertained, the hostel organizes daily events like city tours, pub crawls, and in-house comedy shows.

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Every year, millions of Americans celebrate Memorial Day weekend as the official kickoff of summer. Hotdogs, hamburgers, potato salad, and, of course, travel — these traditions endure throughout the ages. Another thing that never changes? The most popular Memorial Day destinations. Year after year, Americans ring in the summer season in the same places that are, not surprisingly, the nation’s most accessible, beautiful and celebratory destinations, that boast awesome hotels to boot. The following five cities were some of the most popular of 2013, and are sure to be just as hustlin’ and bustlin’ this upcoming weekend. Read on to find out why they’re just so great for Memorial Day weekend — and where you can stay in each.

The Plaza

1. New York City

New York City is always a great choice for Memorial Day: if free concerts, hundreds of landmarks, patriotic parades and free summer movies aren’t enough, this year the city’s famed Fleet Week also coincides with Memorial Day celebrations. Events include ship tours, air shows, a music festival, parades, and a marching band — all great choices, especially for revelers with kids in tow.

Where to Stay: It’s hard to find a deal in New York on a holiday weekend, so why not go all-out and stay at the city’s landmark hotel, The Plaza? Ladies and gentlemen, we’re talking gold-plated bathroom fixtures and Central Park views!

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It's a pink explosion in the Barbie Suite at the Palms!

Hotels often incorporate themes into their rooms, but these so-called themes are usually “classic elegance,” “boho chic,” or “understated luxury.” In the case of the rooms in this slideshow, however, the themes are a bit more specific — and over-the-top. From a suite that Barbie would approve of, to a room dedicated to David Beckham (and, in particular, his abs), we’ve found some amazing themed rooms and suites that are worth a visit (or at least a look).

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It happens every year — suddenly it’s May and you have no idea what to do for Mother’s Day. Again. Brunch is handy and easy, and you know she will appreciate you spending some time with her. But how about you surprise her with something different this year? Whether she’s outdoorsy, artsy or just downright stressed out, we’ve got you covered. Check out our top picks for Mother’s Day and make her feel special! You’re welcome in advance.

If Mom is outdoorsy…

PLAN: Play a round of golf (and let her win)
STAY:
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, Sonoma County

Sonoma Golf Club at The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa; Sonoma County, CA

Fore! Tiger's got nothing on mom this Sunday.

Housed in a Spanish mission-style building, the upscale Fairmont Sonoma is perfect for some pampering and golf days. It boasts an 18-hole championship golf course, a top-notch spa complete with its own thermal mineral spring, and a Michelin-starred restaurant. Round up the day with the free daily wine tastings, and then head to one of the hotel’s homey rooms for some rest.

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The heated pool at the Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize is just on surprisingly luxe green amenity

We don’t mind sacrificing a little comfort during our travels if that means reducing our carbon footprint. But then again, not all eco-conscious hotels call for lights out and cold showers. The 10 hotels that make our list of those with the best eco-friendly perks aren’t all LEED-certified, but they still know that going green makes guests and Mother Earth happy. So here’s our salute to some great stays that are doing their part to reduce, reuse, and conserve with these awesome green amenities.

 

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Some destinations always come to mind when people think of beach getaways: Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, Miami’s South Beach, and the crowded sands in Cancun. Some spots, however, are often overlooked and it makes them that much better. Fewer people, untouched nature, you name it; underrated beach destinations are hidden gems that can be just what you’re looking for. Check out our list of nine underrated beach destinations — and make a trip before the secret is out!

Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

Vieques Island is surrounded by gorgeous, clear waters.

This unique little island offers travelers pure, undeveloped land, mainly thanks to the US Navy’s former use of a good portion of the island. The Navy left in 2003, however, and the land it once occupied is now a national wildlife refuge. Tourists to Puerto Rico often don’t leave the mainland as it takes an extra puddle-jumper to get to Vieques and there are few tourist attractions. Instead, attractions are nature-oriented: The island’s stunning, untouched white-sand beaches and famous bioluminescent bay are the highlights, but it also features walking trails, 300-year-old trees, and some of the top snorkeling spots in the country.

Where to Stay: The quaint Inn on the Blue Horizon is a smaller, more affordable option compared to the nearby W Vieques. The inn features phenomenal ocean views, pretty Mediterranean-style architecture, and wild horses roaming the grounds.

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Lobby at The St. Regis Deer Valley; Park City, UT

Lobby at The St. Regis Deer Valley; Park City, UT

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Designer Jason Wu has created an exclusive handbag for The St. Regis Deer Valley, which can be purchased online along with dozens of other gifts given the property’s stamp of approval.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Island Shangri-La in Hong Kong offers its guests free use of USB modems during their trip, so that they can get on-the-go Internet access even outside the hotel.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Lindsay Lohan and her mom were turned down by several L.A. hotels before being allowed to book a room at The Beverly Hills Hotel.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Sweet Surrender candy store at the Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas is now selling a $750 cupcake.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Affinia Manhattan will host the 3,200 dogs taking part in the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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Executive Park View Junior Suite at the Baglioni Hotel London; London, UK

Executive Park View Junior Suite at the Baglioni Hotel London; London, UK

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT?  British Airways recently announced the “Big British Invite” promotion, which offers a free two-night stay at the ultra-luxe Baglioni Hotel London with the purchase of a round-trip ticket between the US and the UK.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Oprah Winfrey has bought a four-room, six-and-a-half-bath condo at the Montage Beverly Hills for $14 million. This will be her ninth residence, and her second home in California.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas will have to pay a $1 million fine as the result of employees accepting payments to supply prostitutes, cocaine and pain killers to undercover agents.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Faktum Hotels is a non-profit website that allows people to book a hotel room for the homeless living in Gothenburg, Sweden.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The W New York’s Detox for Retox package helps guests follow a juice cleanse program with a selection of juices and raw-food items delivered to their room.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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In our Oyster Stats series, we’re sharing surprising tidbits on a range of topics using data we’ve accumulated from our hotel coverage and site traffic. Our goal is not to provide scientific data but to provide interesting directional insights about travel trends.

New Yorkers have a rep for not being the friendliest people around. After all, in a destination teeming with tourists, locals often turn up their noses at outsiders, and just a grunt in your general direction is considered a kind greeting. But as New Yorkers ourselves, we wanted legitimate proof that this stereotype is true — and alas, it is. In fact, our research (not surprisingly) found that New Yorkers are not only considerably less friendly and romantically-inclined — especially when compared to their laid-back, West Coast counterparts in California — but also show much less love for the Earth than Californians. So here’s the cold, hard truth — and proof!

Finding: New Yorkers don’t love the Earth

California has always been a leader in creating eco-friendly legislation and practicing green initiatives. But New York as a state has actually shown more love for the Earth than we’d expect. It has a surprisingly low carbon footprint, and though New York City’s air quality is pretty atrocious, commuters relying on public transportation save the Earth a lot of heartache. Nonetheless, New Yorkers seem to care a whole lot less about the Earth than Californians, according to our research. While Californians spent an average of 88.2 seconds per visit on our eco-friendly pages — such as a list of LEED-certified hotels and our slideshow of eco-friendly spots in Jamaica — New Yorkers spent a mere 11.46 seconds per visit. Go green, New York!

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In our Oyster Stats series, we’re sharing surprising tidbits on a range of topics using data we’ve accumulated from our hotel coverage and site traffic. Our goal is not to provide scientific data but to provide interesting directional insights about travel trends.

If you think you’re a smart shopper, you may have to think again. Because according to our research, some states are getting a lot more bang for their buck when it comes to hotels — and the results are pretty surprising.

Essentially, people from certain states are doing a better job of finding the lowest price possible for the highest pearl rating possible, guaranteeing a more luxurious stay at a smaller cost. Others, however, are not so savvy. Shelling out more money for a hotel with a lower pearl rating, these shoppers get a lot less pearl per dollar than their compatriots across state lines. Just check out how the numbers break down:

Here we show how the price per pearl differs among our best and worst shoppers. Our best shoppers in Nevada can, theoretically, book a five-pearl hotel for $290 per night, whereas New Yorkers, our worst shoppers, would pay $445 per night for a five-pearl property.

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