Paris

This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel.

Traveling can be expensive. After all, hotels, transportation, dining, and sight-seeing add up quickly! But one way to lessen the financial load is to opt for hostels over hotels; these budget-oriented spots have an undeserved bad rap. Sure, they’re usually bare bones when it comes to accommodations, but they often offer a fun, vibrant scene that can really add to a guest’s overall traveling experience. Primarily geared toward young, party-oriented travelers who don’t mind sharing rooms with strangers, hostels can be a great option for a cheap place to crash — that also has a fun atmosphere. We’ve found eight hostels around the world that fit the bill. Expect hopping bars with alcohol flowing, lounges with pool and foosball tables, and guests from all over with whom you can dance and take a shot of Jägermeister.

Flying Pig Downtown, Amsterdam

Flying Pig Downtown

The Flying Pig Downtown is a friendly, fun-focused Amsterdam hostel. Located on a busy, central shopping street, this hostel is surrounded by many of the city’s nightlife hot spots, while also being a short walk to popular sights and the Red Light district. Private rooms are available in addition to the secure and tidy dorms, and the property is frequented by a mainly backpacking clientele. There is a modern guest kitchen, cozy smoking lounge, and lively bar on-site. One of two Flying Pigs properties in Amsterdam, this (in)famous landmark hostel is unashamedly geared towards the younger party crowd. Housed in an 18th-century townhouse, its bright colorful lobby attracts backpackers and weekend revelers looking for good times with like-minded spirits. Decor is fun and funky in common areas with colorful murals, eclectic furnishings, and a whiff of cannabis. The atmosphere, unsurprisingly, is relaxed and friendly, especially in the cozy, cushion-scattered smoking room. Things liven up in the evening in the busy bar with regular DJ sets.

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Owning and operating a hotel is a full-time job, and many of those who devote their lives to the hospitality industry specialize in all things hotel — and that’s it. But there are some unlikely faces in the exclusive “hotel owners of the world” club (hey, it probably exists) that got their starts in other industries; in fact, most of them have their hands in many pots and own their hotels while simultaneously acting, directing, cooking, designing, singing, running a country….you name it! So here we bring you nine surprising hotel owners, from chefs to sultans.

The Greenwich Hotel, New York City

Unlikely Owner: Robert De Niro, Actor/Director/Producer

Greenwich Hotel

The Greenwich Hotel is the hub of Robert De Niro’s personal TriBeCa monopoly: he’s co-owner of the hotel, and also owns its direct neighbors, Locanda Verde restaurant and the Tribeca Film Center. Other owners include developers Ira Druker and Richard Born, of the Mercer and Bowery hotels — both of which are celebrity magnets. The Greenwich also attracts its fair share of stars with its gorgeous, homey rooms and sexy underground spa.

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When in Paris, it’s wise to do as the Parisians do – stroll the cobblestone streets, people-watch from sidewalk cafes for hours, and eat way too much bread (even if it is Fashion Week, which kicks off on Tuesday). And it’s also smart to do a little research before you make the trip to ensure that you find the hotel that’s perfectly suited for your fashionista style. Fortunately, we here at Oyster.com do the majority of that work for you. We recently visited a bunch of Parisian hotels, and took tons of photos and notes in order to bring you in-depth reviews and truthful photos so what you see is what you get. Here, we bring you a dozen gorgeous hotels, complete with hundreds of photos and detailed reviews, that are stylish enough for a stay during Paris Fashion Week. Enjoy!

1. La Maison Favart

Maison Favart

This upscale, 30-room boutique hotel is one of the best choices in Paris, and offers surprisingly competitive rates for the level of luxury. It is named for the founder of the Opera Comique across the street, and the decor blends influences of the 18th century theater with modern trends. Rooms are chic and sport colorful accents, as well as thoughtful amenities such as iPod docks, bathrobes, towel warmers, and flat-screen TVs with free movies. Several metro lines are nearby, and popular sights such as the Louvre are within walking distance. Just note that the (excellent) breakfast buffet is an extra fee, and that the Classic Rooms are quite small.

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The post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel.

Ever been to a hotel that has full-time residents? No, we’re not talking about celebrities or Eloise, but rather residents of the furry or feathered variety that act as mascots at various properties. These domesticated residents often greet guests upon arrival, and can be seen wandering around the lobby or grounds. Whether it be two friendly St. Bernards or a white Birman cat, these animals are more like hotel staff than pets, but they prefer petting to tipping. So if you have to leave your pooch or kitten at home while traveling, you can still get your pet time in at these eight hotels.

Montage Deer Valley, Utah

Montage Deer Valley

The Montage in Deer Valley is a large, luxurious resort with a ski-in/ski-out location. The rooms feel like upscale apartments, with warm wood accents, chandeliers, high-end artwork, fireplaces, and marble bathrooms complete with heated floors, soaking tubs, and separate showers. The pricey hotel has a massive spa (guests get free access to its pool, steam rooms, and saunas) and several restaurants, one with fine dining and another with a bowling alley. In addition to being a pet-friendly hotel, there are two canine ambassadors — Monty and Jonas — both Bernese Mountain Dogs that greet guests in the lobby.

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la

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? After the success of Hotel Week NYC, Hotel Week LA is following suit by offering discounted rooms at top luxury hotels in Los Angeles from November 29 to December 14.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Not surprisingly, Orlando came in at the number one spot in a recent report on the top meeting destinations in the U.S.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Alain Ducasse reopened at Paris’ Hotel Plaza Athenee yesterday with a brand-new gourmet prix fixe menu that’s heavy on veggies and seafood — for the bargain price of 300 Euros ($387).

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Chef and nutritionist Cheryl Forberg has teamed up with Omni Hotels to provide guests with a “Healthy Traveler Series” full of tips and tricks for staying healthy while traveling.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? For a short time, the Waldorf Astoria Park City is offering guests the opportunity to explore the surrounding area in a luxury Mercedes-Benz.

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A hotel has “made it” when it’s honored as a Relais & Chateaux property. After all, established in 1954 in France (mais bien sur?!), this exclusive association is made up of just about 500 hotels and restaurants, combined, that introduce guests “to a deeper, truer understanding of the Art of Living.” Or, in much simpler Oyster terms, they show guests a darn good time by providing gorgeous rooms, luxurious facilities and amenities, and top-notch service. We’ve been lucky enough to have stayed in quite a few of these R&C properties (don’t get too jealous — as hotel experts, we also have to stay in spots like this), and here bring you the real creme de la creme of the best of the best.

1. Saint James Paris

St James

It makes sense to start in grand Paris, non? With a sweeping private entrance surrounded by green lawns and an impressive fountain, the upscale Saint James is a rare find in Paris — in fact, the 19th century manor is considered the only chateau-hotel in the city. It’s fitting that the hotel is located in the wealthy 16th arrondissement (and yes, valet parking is included). The 48 rooms and suites are large by Paris standards, and decorated in plush luxurious fabrics. But the common areas are more impressive — especially the black and white grand staircase on the main floor. The terrace is a beautiful spot for lunch on a nice summer day. And there’s also a small fitness center, a spa, and a gourmet restaurant. The rates here are steep, but guests who want to experience luxury in Paris (and can afford it) should give the Saint James a look.

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Newsflash! Visiting the world’s most expensive cities doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be forced to stay in the world’s most expensive hotels. Though the suite life can be tempting when hoteling in the globe’s most affluent destinations, what’s feasible for the rich and famous often doesn’t align with what’s feasible for the rest of us. Thankfully, there are fantastic budget options in pricey towns that offer a lot of bang for your buck — so you can use that extra cash towards your eight-euro bottle of water. From London to Singapore and back again, we’ve got the lowdown on hotels that won’t break your bank…in cities that threaten to do just that! Though some cities are even too rich for Oyster’s blood — we’ll get to you soon Lausanne! — here are our top picks for the best budget stays in the world’s most expensive cities.

London: Generator Hostel London
Price: $39/night

HOSTEL LONDON

The Generator Hostel represents a new type of high-end “hostelling” which puts a real emphasis on creating fun, chilled-out atmospheres conducive to interaction between guests. The Generator is one such property and is a good choice for both young solo travelers and groups, offering dorms for up to 12 people as well as private rooms (though some are cramped). The cafe, bar, and cinema room are all great spaces to relax, and the hostel’s event program is a nice touch. There are few properties with as good a central London location that also promise such a snazzy vibe on the cheap in the world’s most expensive city.

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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

new york

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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plaza atheneeThe uber-luxurious Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris reopened today (at 7 a.m. to be exact) in a belated celebration of its centennial. While the overall design and vibe of the hotel has reportedly remained true to its classic roots of iconic elegance, the hotel closed in October of last year in order to commence renovations on a recently-acquired townhouse next door, which meant the addition of six new rooms, eight suites, and several event spaces, including a ballroom. The hotel’s restaurants — including the famed Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée and La Galerie des Gobelins – also received a redesign.

But while the reopening of its doors certainly marks a triumph, the Plaza Athenee has seen a mix of both good and bad press this year. Part of the Dorchester Collection, it is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, who’s recent decision to implement sharia law in his home country led many, including celebrities, to boycott his properties. This Parisian property is perhaps the most upscale of the collection; iconic red awnings and chestnut trees welcome guests to the historic setting, on the upscale Avenue Montaigne location with direct views of the Eiffel Tower. The rooms and suites are decorated in classic Art Deco style with modern touches like flat-screen TVs and marble baths, and with six distinct restaurants, a large fitness center, and a can’t-miss daily breakfast in a leafy garden, the Plaza Athenee doesn’t miss a beat. [The Telegraph]

 

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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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