Paris

Whether it’s a sweet sixteen, wedding, or 50th anniversary, events held in a ballroom evoke luxury. Gorgeous crystal chandeliers, high ceilings, and ornate gold drapes are just a few things that come to mind when picturing a ballroom; it’s clear why these stunning spaces are popular choices when hosting a soiree. From grand rooms that fit hundreds of people, to smaller spaces designed for more intimate — yet equally impressive — gatherings, the following 12 hotels are amazing choices — as long as you’re willing to pay up, of course.

Harbour Grand Hong Kong

Harbour Grand Hong Kong

The Harbour Grand impresses guests upon entry. The massive marble lobby with huge chandeliers is imposing, and the stately, yet modern, look continues throughout the hotel. Rooms here are sexy and up-to-date, with none of the stuffy grandeur of some other luxury hotels in Hong Kong. Simple, sexy decor with peek-a-boo bathrooms, large sepia-toned wall photos behind the headboards, and views of the harbor give the rooms a sophisticated vibe. Overall this 828-room mega-hotel is a gorgeous option, complete with with four full restaurants, a fitness center, and a spa. The Grand Ballroom shown above is often used for weddings and can fit 500 people banquet-style. The high ceilings, stunning chandeliers, and high-tech features — like audio/video projectors and special light effects — make it a truly gorgeous event space.

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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.

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Even though it’s a few months away from Valentine’s Day, we’re always looking for ways to have a romantic weekend — especially a romantic long weekend. And thanks to Columbus Day, we have the perfect opportunity coming right up. One of the best (and easiest…and least expensive) ways to turn up the heat is to just stay put in your own city — but head to a luxurious hotel with features designed to heighten the romance. Staycations with a significant other can be the perfect way to experience some of the best properties your city has to offer; the true creme de la creme of your town is almost guaranteed to have cozy rooms, a spa, and a high-quality restaurant or two. At the twelve hotels that make our list, locals/guests won’t need to leave the property — and won’t want to — with all the couple-centric features. And if you don’t live in one of these locales, fear not; you can always hop in a car or on a plane (although the “inexpensive” aspect might get knocked out).

New York City: The Greenwich Hotel

Greenwich Hotel

This virtually flawless 88-room TriBeCa hotel (opened in 2008 by Robert de Niro, among others) offers large, homey rooms, breathtaking design, and very attentive service. Even better: free Wi-Fi; free minibar snacks; and free Wii video games by request are also available. The Greenwich feels like a lush oasis in the middle of the once-industrial neighborhood, with a plant-filled courtyard, the luxurious Shibui spa, and an underground, lantern-lit pool beneath a 250-year-old Japanese farmhouse roof. The exceptional rooms, each uniquely designed to evoke an Italian home, and the hip rustic Italian restaurant, Locanda Verde, complete the romantic experience. Plus, you can skip the lengthy wait for a reservation at the restaurant and just order it up for room service!

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In our original post, we brought you from Nantucket to Kauai and everywhere in between, offering perfectly captured glimpses of our country’s most beautiful vistas. But we’d be biased if we only shared our stunning photos of the United States. So we packed our bags and headed to Europe in search of its best vantage points. Here are 13 of our favorites…

Fretheim Hotel, Norway

Norway

For travelers interested in exploring Norway’s natural wonders, there’s no better starting point than the Fretheim Hotel. Located in Flam, a popular departure point for fjord cruises, the Fretheim offers some pretty breathtaking views of its own. With its floor to ceiling windows, the Fretheim’s popular restaurant has an unobstructed view of the beautiful valley and nearby harbor.

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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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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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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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