Here at Oyster, we can never get enough of bright lights, big cities, and the continuous buzz and hum of modern metropolis life. There’s just something about the energy in the air that we find exhilarating. But that doesn’t mean we don’t take a moment every once in a while to step back in time. And at times like these, we don’t just want to soak up history – we want to live it. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than waking up in a 13th-century building and imagining how many people have woken up, celebrated, or walked the halls of the very same place — and it doesn’t hurt to get to imagine it while still enjoy modern conveniences like air-conditioning and Wi-Fi. And if you don’t want to stay in a crumbling piece of history, you don’t have to — and you can still get a taste of history. There are tons of preserved medieval towns and villages that have newer– even sleek and modern — hotels. So if you want to get medieval on your vacation (in a historic kind of way, not an urban dictionary kind of way), we’ve got just the right spots to do it. Here are our top ten picks for hotels in ancient towns.
Inside the historic walls of Siena, the 100-room Hotel Athena is a classic, upscale property within walking distance of several restaurants and historic sites, including the Siena Cathedral and Biblioteca Piccolomini. Piazza del Campo, Siena’s main square and the site of the famous haven’t-changed-much-since-the-middle-ages Palio horse races, can be reached within 10 minutes by foot. The hotel’s rooftop terrace overlooks the historic buildings of the area and has a bar serving cocktails and snacks. There is a free breakfast buffet with hot and cold items and an elegant restaurant serving regional cuisine. There’s no pool or fitness center at the hotel, but rooms are simple and clean and have free Wi-Fi.
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Is all the talk of summer and beaches…bumming you out? Does the entire concept of humidity make you want to cry? If you see one more Instagram photo of “hot-dog legs” are you going to lose it? Good news! You’re not crazy or a heartless, sun-hating scrooge — and you’re not alone. The dogs days of summer are truly upon us, and sometimes it’s all too easy to dream of snowbanks and icicles (which will be a nightmare once we’re in the thick of winter — but then, of course, we’ll dream of sizzling sidewalks and sun galore). So if you’re already missing winter, here’s where you can travel right now where it’s 50 degrees or cooler. And, of course, we’ve found the coziest hotels nearby where you can properly embrace sweater weather by curling up in front of a fireplace that will chase the (all-too-welcome) chill away.
The Southern Hemisphere is where winter’s at, and one of our favorite destinations down under is none other than Melbourne, Australia. Known as Australia’s culture capital, this city situated on Port Phillip Bay is packed with Victorian buildings, museums, galleries, large parks, and gardens. The tree-lined streets and green spaces create a clean, eco-friendly vibe, which is probably part of the reason Melbourne has consistently been dubbed as one of the world’s most livable cities. During the winter months, locals enjoy ice skating, curling, and banishing the chill at the nearby Peninsula Hot Springs.
Stay: Hotel Lindrum
This modern boutique is located just a short walk from sights such as Federation Square and Melbourne Park. It lacks a fitness center and spa, but the features it does have are done well: The restaurant serves a nice breakfast buffet, and the cozy bar features a fireplace and a billiards table. Rooms feature sleek lines, dark wood accents, high-style light fixtures, and contemporary artwork, which combine to create a chic vibe. Read More »
Sure, your wedding day may be the most memorable day of your life, but there’s still plenty of pressure for the precursor proposal to be a noteworthy occasion. It can be an intimidating undertaking, and many choose to pop the question in a special place so the whole experience feels particularly luxe. Fortunately, numerous hotels have picked up on both the need for something special and the need for a little help; from offering proposal packages with diamonds already included, to lending a helping hand with customized engagement plans, these six resorts go the extra mile in (almost) guaranteeing engagement success.
Nestled in the heart of Old Quebec, the Fairmont Le Chateau has lured celebrities and reality show stars with its charm. It was even the spot where NFL Quarterback Jesse Palmer and his lady love Tara enjoyed a date on ABC’s The Bachelor. This seductive resort provides breathtaking pop-the-question scenic backdrops of the St.Lawrence River. Toast your happily-ever-after at the hotel’s wine and cheese bar before heading back to the luxurious Van Horne suite for a night to remember.
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The New York Palace gets in the holiday mood -- maybe they're inspired by the holiday shops at Bryant Park?
Christmas markets, or Christkindlmarkts as they are known in Germany, originated in the Late Middle Ages as a way to celebrate the beginning of Advent — the four-week lead-up to Christmas Day. Usually hosted in town squares, these street fairs offer all kinds of seasonal charm, including handcrafted Christmas decorations and gifts, and tasty treats like mulled wine and gingerbread. From Scotland to Chicago, German-style Christmas markets are offering a jolly dose of holiday cheer to people around the globe. Here are some of our favorite Christmas markets the world-over — and the charming hotels to call home so that visions of sugar plums are sure to dance through your head all night long.
Berlin’s Christmas Markets
With over 60 Christmas markets held each holiday season in Berlin, those seeking some magical winter charm need look no further than the German capital. The creme-de-la-Christmas-creme, however, can be found at the historic Gendarmenmart, which is bordered by the French and German Cathedral on one side and the Concert House on the other. Visitors can wander the many booths lining the streets, or visit the heated craftsmen tent where toy makers, goldsmiths, and wood carvers show off their talents. The market stays open through New Year’s Eve, when visitors can hear various bands, toast the New Year with fireworks, and dance a traditional waltz after midnight. There is a one-Euro entrance fee (which is odd for a Christmas market) and New Year’s Eve tickets cost 10 Euro. Other historic Christmas markets in Germany include Dresden’s and Nuremberg’s charming fairs.
Where to Stay: Bleibtreu Hotel
Blumen 31 Flower Shop
A boutique property that has managed to ingratiate itself with its neighborhood, the Bleibtreu Hotel offers a charming bistro/diner and a flower shop with an outdoor garden that is often frequented by locals. Rooms are stylish and functional, if small, and are decorated with natural materials; some have balconies. Read More »
St. Laurent Bar and Lounge at the Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac
The 618-room Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is a grand and ornate Quebec City landmark. It’s housed in a 19th-century castle, which was used as a stopover destination for Canadian Pacific Railway riders, and is full of ornate design features, such as a grand double staircase, wood paneling, coffered ceilings, and chandeliers. Rooms are elegant, and even though standard rooms start relatively small, some have fantastic river views. Amenities include a beautiful indoor pool with Jacuzzi, steam rooms, and a fitness center. Le Champlain is a fine dining restaurant with sweeping views, and the St. Laurent Bar has live jazz once a week. Due to it’s gorgeous views, top-notch dining, and rich history, the hotel is not only one of the most luxurious options in Old City but also a destination in itself. Check out more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now» Read More »