Paris

As the song goes, “I love Paris in the springtime.” Of course, Fitzgerald goes on to claim that she loves Paris in every season, and the romantic City of Light is certainly lovely all year long. But it can be argued that the French capital never shines quite so brightly as it does in the spring. When the city is in full bloom, its iconic cafes, parks, and bustling avenues come to life after a winter indoors. To be fair, living “la vie en rose” comes with a steep price tag at this time of year. but for a once in a lifetime getaway, you can’t miss this iconic springtime experience. We’ve collected some of our favorite things to do in Paris in the spring, and have added some brand new hotels to the site that are perfect for your seasonal stay.

1. Explore a city in bloom. 

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Springtime is synonymous with blossoming flowers, and there are few cities that capture such vibrancy of color as Paris does after months of cold, grey winter days. The city’s famed gardens — Tuileries and Luxembourg being among the most popular — burst to life with daffodils, lavender, and paulownia plants and trees. The gorgeous colors and delicious fragrances are entrancing, and they make for gorgeous photos ops.

Stay: Hotel de l’Abbaye Saint-Germain 

A cozy and luxurious oasis in the center of the Saint Germain quarter — and just a short walk from the Luxembourg Gardens — this boutique hotel is praised for its stylish decor and tranquil garden where guests can enjoy breakfast.

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Like the rest of the world, our office is abuzz with talk of Wes Anderson’s newest flick, The Grand Budapest Hotel. And sure, it may be mostly water cooler chatter, but we consider it research too — after all, it is about a grand hotel… one that may have seen some grander times. But even in its heyday, the Grand Budapest Hotel just can’t stack up to some of the gorgeous historic hotels that we’ve stayed in — from Irish castles to stately Southern mansions. Check out a dozen stunning stays that are far grander than the Grand Budapest Hotel (with the requisite storied history, to boot).

1. Ca’Sagredo Hotel, Venice

Ca'Sagredo

Originally built in the 15th century by the Morosini family, this beautiful palazzo — right on the Grand Canal — was purchased by the Sagredos (a family of noble blood) in the 1700s, which is how the hotel got its name. Besides luxurious rooms and a lovely terrace, the Ca’Sagredo Hotel features original frescoes and sculptures from the 17th and 18th centuries.

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It’s hard to resist the complex flavors and rich history that comes with drinking a glass of vino. And heck, it’s hard to resist sipping on wine even without all that history…but it is noteworthy — and fascinating: In a process dating back to 6000 BC (well before the Romans epitomized the drink across the Mediterranean), the transformation from crushed grapes to delectable alcoholic beverage has been an important part of the human tradition — whether it be celebratory, religious, you name it.

From the Greek Isles to Australia’s Yarra Valley, from Chardonnay to Shiraz, some variation of the grape stuff can be found the world over. And for the discerning traveler looking to explore a region’s gustatory offerings, many wineries await with open arms (and free-flowing wine) to offer tours of their operation and — most importantly — samples of their best vintages. Picturesque backdrops set the scene across the globe for a truly delicious (and perhaps tipsy) experience. So whether you’re a wine aficionado or an eager wino student, pack your bags and make sure to bring a corkscrew, because these far flung locales have just the bottle of wine for you.

1. Napa Valley, California

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Napa Valley — home to some of the most charming cities in the U.S. — is also one of the world’s best wine-growing regions, with hundreds of wineries sprawling across the rolling hills. Wineries can occasionally feel a little touristy (it’s not uncommon to see a tour bus parked outside), but perhaps that’s inevitable in one of the world’s top wine-tasting destinations. The valley is actually divided into fourteen sub-regions, each suited to a particular grape, so you can map your tour based on your wine preferences.

Where to Stay: If you’re daydreaming of a luxury stay in the heart of wine country — complete with impressive views, rustic-luxe charm, and lavish  amenities — you can’t do much better than the Harvest Inn. Each guest receives a bottle of wine upon arrival, and many rooms overlook the neighboring vineyards of St. Helena.  Read More »

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We have seen some beautiful sites during our travels around the world. But don’t take our word for it (although you should; we are experts) — many of our favorite places are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means they are “places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.” And there you have it — spots that make this list are absolutely stunning. To date, there are 911 sites on the list and we have seen a ton of them. But to make things a tad more manageable, we’ve parred it down to 9 sites that you’ve just got to see. And if you can make it to all 911, then by all means go for it!

1. Statue of Liberty, New York City

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We’re starting local — for us, at least. A beacon of hope for travelers to New York City since it was dedicated in 1886, the Statue of the Liberty is one of the most-recognized and beloved National Monuments in the United States. Visitors can walk to the top for sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline from the statue’s crown, and many visit Ellis Island at the same time to round out their historical and cultural trip.

Where to Stay: The Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park

As expected of the luxury brand, this Ritz property boasts gorgeous rooms, top-notch service, and a long list of amenities. Some rooms feature views of the Statue of Liberty.

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Europe is a popular destination year-round, and it becomes all the more popular as the temperatures rise and students and families opt to travel abroad during their spring and summer vacations. Those who have an extended amount of time off (and, of course, the cash to afford it) can visit numerous cities during one trip, but others with limited time and funds must decide upon one location — which can be a tricky feat. So we’ve come up with an expert guide for how to spend six months in Europe; whether you can take half a year and explore a handful of cities, or you have just a weekend in which to get away, we’ll tell you the best European destination for each month — starting right now with February!

February in Venice

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Venice’s Carnival is one of the most famous festivals in the world, and every February locals and tourists crowd the streets of the city to let loose before Lent begins. This year the celebration kicks off on February 15th and runs for two and a half weeks; parades, contests, special exhibits, and ceremonies take place along the Grand Canal.

Where to Stay: Hotel Al Sole

This boutique hotel may have simple — verging on bland — rooms, but canal views, a charming courtyard, and a great location — the hotel is housed in a 15th-century mansion within walking distance of numerous sights — make Hotel Al Sole a solid pick.

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A romantic date is a requirement on Valentine’s Day if you’re in a relationship, but if you really want to impress your significant other, a lovely weekend getaway is just the ticket. And with February 14th falling on the Friday of President’s Day weekend this year, its the perfect time to escape with your honey. So if you need a little inspiration for where to go and stay, check out the five most romantic hotel rooms we’ve ever seen. These will be sure to fire up some love (and lust!) for the holiday!

Junior Suite at Eden Roc, Cap Cana; Dominican Republic

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One of the most important brand names a hotel can boast is that of its designer. A famous hotel designer such as Philippe Starck can help ensure a hotel’s hot spot status, so new hotels are wise to invest heavily in their interior style. And it’s not only traditional hotel designers that can add to a hotel’s cachet; there is a trend of fashion designers or celebrities turning their talents to hotels, which always creates plenty of buzz. These nine hotels are some of the most devastatingly stylish we’ve found anywhere.

Hotel Le Notre Dame, Paris

Hotel Le Notre Dame, ParisMany guests choose this charming boutique hotel for its proximity to Notre Dame Cathedral, which is a two-minute walk away. But this hotel is notable for more than its location: Its 26 funky, eclectic rooms were designed by none other than fashion powerhouse Christian Lacroix. They feature bold patterns and prints, as well as natural materials such as wood and stone. Read More »

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A new year is upon us, and you know what that means – time to plan your 2014 vacation, of course! And you, being the trendsetter that you are, are planning to go to somewhere on the cutting edge. Well, we’re here to help. This year is an especially good time to visit these five destinations, which have new growth, new tourism offerings, or special events happening only in 2014. Check ‘em out!

Nicaragua

Aqua Wellness Resort, NicaraguaWhy Now: Nicaragua, beloved by backpackers and surfer bums, offers many of the same splendors that draw travelers to its neighbor to the south, Costa Rica — lush rainforest, beautiful white-sand beaches, volcanoes, and rich wildlife – but it is far less developed. That is starting to change, however; 2013 saw the opening of the super-exclusive luxury property Mukul, and it’s possible that this diamond in the rough will be getting a lot more polish in the coming years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you like off-the-beaten path adventure travel – and discovering destinations before they fully “arrive” – now is the time to go.

Where to Stay: Aqua Wellness Resort
Aqua Wellness Resort is a rustic-luxe retreat set into a hillside overlooking Redondo Bay on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. The resort has eco-friendly design, lush vegetation (expect to spot wildlife such as howler monkeys and iguanas), and rooms adorned with lots of natural wood; some units include plunge pools and stunning ocean views. Read More »

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Many people will spend the holidays at home or visiting family, but for some, it has become tradition to spend the time on vacation. Just because you’re staying in a hotel doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on holiday cheer; in fact, these amazing holiday hotels around the globe go above and beyond to spread the holiday spirit. Think: welcome mugs of hot chocolate, elaborate Christmas decorations, visits from Santa, carol singing, and more. Feeling Christmas-y yet?

New York Palace, New York City

The New York Palace, New York CityThe New York Palace is one of the best hotels for enjoying Christmas in New York City. It offers a prime location right next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (which has Christmas masses) and about a block away from the giant tree and famous skating rink at Rockefeller Center. It also has guards in toy-soldier-style uniforms next to the stunning outdoor Christmas tree (they are happy to pose for photos!) and a Nutcracker brunch at Villard Michel Richard. Read More »

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The 23-room Hotel Mathis is an upscale boutique property in the 8th arrondissement, within walking distance of designer shops and the Arc de Triomphe. The attractive, Art Deco-inspired decor is particularly impressive in the cozy breakfast room, which has crystal chandeliers, rich blue banquet seating, and crown moldings, as well as in the bar, which has plush red couches. Most rooms have a toned-down version of this look (antique-like lamps, rich curtains, prettily patterned desk chairs), but some have modern elements that contribute to a more eclectic feel. All have flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. The hotel’s charm and level of luxury are comparable to the Hotel Daniel’s, but prices are often better here (though they’re still not cheap).

Hotel Bar at the Hotel Mthis Elysees Matignon

Hotel Bar at the Hotel Mthis Elysees Matignon

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