If you’re like us, you’re ready for this freezing weather — courtesy of the polar vortex — to be over. In fact, you’ve been ready for weeks now. And though the groundhog may not have predicted a quick return to warm weather, that hasn’t stopped cities across the U.S. from making plans to usher in the spring, which makes its official entrance March 20. From Atlanta to Los Angeles, from Vermont to Savannah, popular vacation destinations are already prepping for the season’s welcome with spring-themed festivals, parades, and parties. Here are seven destinations where you can celebrate spring.
Los Angeles, CA: Holi Festival of Colors, March 8
Traditionally a religious Hindu festival marking the beginning of spring, Holi has become a holiday celebrated around the globe by Hindu followers and non-followers alike, and few places stateside do the day justice like Los Angeles. This year, the festival takes place in L.A. on March 8 and includes group yoga sessions, musical performances, food vendors, and even “color throwings” ever hour. Dubbed by many as “the world’s happiest event,” Holi is all about reveling in the vibrant colors of spring.
Where to Stay: The Georgian Hotel
A picturesque Art Deco boutique hotel with a commanding view of the sea (from the sunny front porch, but not all rooms), the Georgian is a classy retreat with lovely rooms and a prime location on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. On-site amenities, however, are few. You’ll have to drive to the festival, but when the festival is over, we recommend staying near the beach in Santa Monica to catch some rays.
Read More »
Fashion Week has arrived to New York City, and we’re getting the fashion bug — but it’s not haute couture that’s getting us excited. It’s haute hotels, of course! Rather than envisioning ourselves in what’s on the runway, we’re dreaming about how we’d look in these fashion-forward spots, and what personal styles they’d pair best with. Go on — try them on for size. What hotel would you wear?
Tortuga Bay, Dominican Republic
What to Wear: Oscar De La Renta Swimwear
Oscar de la Renta may be most famous for his evening wear, but he’s designed some super-chic swimwear as well — and there’s no better place to flaunt it than Tortuga Bay, which the famous fashion icon also designed. The 30-room Tortuga Bay hotel offers amazing service (including preferential treatment at Punta Cana Airport), an on-site nature reserve, several superb restaurants, and three world-class golf courses. Read More »
The term “hipster” has a lot of connotations these days, but we think we have a pretty good idea of what it means when it comes to travel. If you’re a hipster, you’re probably the type who won’t want to stay somewhere mainstream — and certainly not a major chain. You’re the type who appreciates what’s cool, yes, but in a way that is interesting and different. You love anything eco-friendly and organic.
Sound at all familiar? Fess up. We at Oyster have a special spot in our heart for hipster travelers. After all, they, like us, have high standards when it comes to choosing a hotel. They’ll often gravitate toward spots that are uber-trendy, quirky, or extremely green, and with that in mind, we unearthed some of the best hotel options in the world for the hipster set.
Wythe Hotel, New York City
The Wythe Hotel is a hub for hipster travelers and locals alike. With a hopping rooftop bar boasting jaw-dropping views of Manhattan, a wonderful restaurant, and cutting-edge industrial design, the Wythe is a destination unto itself. It’s located near the subway as well as dozens of restaurants, bars, and shops in the heart of trendy Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a neighborhood boasting one of the highest concentrations of hipsters in the country. Rooms are spacious and have high pine ceilings, reclaimed wood furnishings, and great amenities, including flat-screen TVs; local, hand-made toiletries; free Wi-Fi, and radiant floor heating. Read More »
Through our many travels we’ve learned that April showers don’t just bring May flowers – they bring delicious May produce! Everything from zucchini to asparagus, spring peas to corn, and watermelon to strawberries begin sprouting up during the spring and summer. And if you’re not quite ready to put on the overalls and bring in the harvest yourself, the next best thing is to visit a local farmers’ market, where fresh produce abounds. We’ve picked out our 10 favorite farmers’ markets across the states, so no matter where your spring and summer vacations take you, you’ll have plenty of tasty treats to bring home. And we’ve even found a great hotel near each spot so you can be sure to beat the crowds.
1. Pike Place Market, Seattle
Vegetable stand at Pike Place Market
Pike Place is one of Seattle’s main attractions. Featuring numerous produce, meat, and fish stands, the market also has plenty of craft kiosks for buying local artwork and gifts. It is open 7 days a week, and though most stands close around 5 p.m., several fine-dining restaurants on the 9-acre historic district are open late.
Where to Stay: Inn at the Market is aptly named. It is one of Seattle’s best-known, and most popular, hotels, in large part due to its unbeatable location: It’s in the heart of downtown Seattle, just half a block from Pike Place Market.
Read More »
Find out the best sights, sounds, and taste in Stumptown.
A big city with plenty of small town touches, Portland has something for everyone. With beautiful, natural surroundings mixed in with its trendy shops and bars, Stumpdown doesn’t disappoint. Take a look at some our of favorite things to do in the gorgeous Oregon city.
Everyone knows that we here at Oyster.com love freebies. After all, we talk about them a lot — and we mean a lot. But when you’re shelling out hard-earned cash for your hotel room, it’s nice when the hotel recognizes that and throws in some perks “just because.” We’ve already gone through the freebies we love, and honestly kind of expect, but we’ve yet to go through all the freebies that really took us by surprise — and sometimes even made us laugh! Some you can bring home with you, some are just on loan, but all of these amenities are funky, looney, and downright fabulous.
Have fond memories of your childhood at Hotel Avante.
Get your mind out of the gutter. Those are not the kind of toys we are talking about — and we would definitely not be okay with them if they were on loan! Instead, Hotel Avante offers adult guests good old-fashioned toys in each room. Called “executive toy boxes,” they include toys such as Slinkys, yo-yos, Etch-a-Sketchs, and Rubik’s cubes, and are meant to be used as inspiration — or even just distractions — for business travelers burning the midnight oil. But if you’re a leisure traveler, we won’t tell — go ahead and have some fun!
Read More »
“This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…” Yesterday, our favorite astrological free spirits started celebrating their 2013 birthdays, and we couldn’t be happier for them. Possessing a deep social conscience, Aquarians are humanitarian, philanthropic, and dedicated to making the world a better place. And they do so with flair. Known for their wildly inventive and creative ideas, Aquarians can also be temperamental and flighty if you don’t encourage their quirk. Luckily, Oyster has stayed at some of the best off-beat, hippie-chic retreats for fostering the unpredictable and artistic notions of the Water Bearers in your life. So get your sketchpads ready, it’s time to take these rebellious visionaries on a one-of-a-kind vacation.
Korakia Pensione brings a bit of the Mediterranean to Palm Springs.
Korakia Pensione is a striking hotel in Palm Springs. Modeled after a Mediterranean pensione, it looks like something out of Greece or Morocco, and Aquarians are sure to relish in its exotic, eclectic vibe. Aquarians are also notorious flirts (what with all of that passionate, creative energy roiling around inside them), so they’ll definitely appreciate that Korakia was named one of Forbes’ sexiest hotels in America. The two Korakia Pensione pools and many outdoor spaces – including fire pits, fountains, and stone paths — are all beautiful and unexpected. And the hotel plays old movies every night outside on the terrace. The rooms are named, not numbered, and each is slightly different, but all have an old-world, whimsical feel.
Read More »
Hotel minibars have a bit of a naughty reputation. After all, they tempt and tease world-weary travelers with salty-sweet goodness at all hours of the day, and then come with a double-digit price tag to boot! But sometimes, the items up for grabs can at least provide guests with a moment of amusement. Some hotels feature rather surprising minibar offerings — we’re talking walking sticks and 24-karat gold vibrators. It’s enough to make guests pause in their perusal of the candy selection and say, “Wait, what?” We’ve come across some of the wackiest minibar items during our travels; here are some of our favorites:
Get your groove on at the Thompson Beverly Hills.
At the flashy Thompson Beverly Hills, spending the night with that special someone just got more fashionable. Designer Alexander Wang created special packaging for PROPER ATTIRE condoms, which are for sale at all Thomspon properties, as well as on the brand’s website. Couples pay $5.99 for a pack of three assorted (which include extra large, ultra-thin, and studded — oh my!) and proceeds benefit Planned Parenthood. Read More »
If you’re one of the many shoppers out there struggling with gift buying this holiday season, don’t fret. Whether you’re a road warrior with no time to shop or just looking for a ‘lil inspiration, we’ve found a surprising source for great gift ideas: hotels. From gourmet goodies to decadent bath products to home decor, hotels have plenty of items that can make the perfect present — so swipe something on your next hotel stay (and pay up, of course!) or simply swipe the suggestion!
Gift Idea: Signature Pantry Goodies
Guests can buy signature pantry items from The Merrion kitchen, such as red onion marmalade.
Little-known fact about hotels: Some of the really, really nice ones have their own signature gourmet goodies. At The Merrion, for example, the hotel chef sells kitchen creations such as red onion marmalade (4 euros, or about $5) and hotel-brand chocolate bars crafted under the guidance of chocolatiers in France, both for sale in the in-room minibars. In addition, entire holiday hampers of treats can be purchased. One of our favorites? The Merrion Hamper, with items such as cranberry sauce, brandy butter, mulled wine and grape chutney, macaroons, mince pies, chocolate truffles, Christmas pudding, and lemon oil, all for 55 euro (about $72). At The Shelbourne Dublin, more tasty seasonal signature treats are for sale, such as various relishes (4.95 euros, about $6.50), preserves (4.95 euros, about $6.50), and even Christmas pudding (10 euros, about $13).
Oyster’s Picks for Where to Swipe ‘Em: The Merrion Hotel in Dublin, The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel
Read More »
We love when hotels feature one-of-kind amenities — many of which tread the line between amazing and ridiculous (not that they can’t be both). While W hotels are known for their Whatever/Whenever service – which promises to accommodate any (legal) guest requests at any time, and the Sound Your Stay rock star treatment at Hard Rock Hotels — complete with free Fender guitars rentals — is pretty awesome, it’s the wildly decadent, completely over-the-top amenities we love best when visiting our favorite hotels. Here’s just a taste of some of the creative ways hotels are keeping guests happy with some unnecessary [Ed. note: Or are they?] but incredible hotel indulgences.
What: Surf Butler
Why carry your surf board when the St. Regis surf butler can?
Where: The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Orange County
St. Regis hotels are known for their top-notch butler service, which even uses eButlers to receive requests via e-mail. With such attentive service throughout the luxury chain, it’s no wonder that oceanfront St. Regis hotels, like the Monarch Beach Resort in Orange County, offer surf butlers. Before your lesson in hanging ten, the surf butler will take your measurements for your wetsuit and bring all necessary equipment right down to the sand so you won’t have to lift a finger — your focus should be on catching some gnarly waves anyways, dude! Read More »