Romantic Hotels

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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hallways

Step inside… The 32-room Hotel MC San Jose is a chic boutique (NEW on Oyster) with stylish details and plenty of friendly warmth and personality from the small staff. A pretty selection of cacti, palms, and shrubs makes the entrance to the hotel even more inviting, and it backs onto a cheerful garden, full of greenery, trees, and blossoming flowers. The interior is cheerful, too. Shiny tile floors, comfy white couches, and funky lighting make for a pleasant lobby. Thoughtful details include unique sculptures, colorful modern art on the walls, potted plants, and magazines and brochures to peruse. Glass doors let in ample sunlight. It’s located a five-minute walk to a beautiful beach, restaurants, and shops in a picturesque coastal town. Simple, elegant, mostly all-white rooms (some are more stylish than others) include free Wi-Fi and free mineral water, and some have gorgeous ocean views. There’s a small but lovely outdoor pool, a spa with a sauna, a pretty relaxation terrace, and a garden. 

Click through the jump to see even more beautiful pics of what makes a truly unique (and affordable) boutique on the Spain’s Mediterranean coast >>

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With everything that’s going on in the world today, it’s nice to occasionally be reminded that simple things do exist — and they’re what counts, right? So sometimes a holiday in the big city surrounded by tall buildings, swarms of people, and a constant cacophony — while invigorating — doesn’t quite match the mold in mind for your relaxing getaway. Cue: a visit to America’s Main Streets — the cute and quaint places that remind us of our roots and that it’s perfectly okay to spend the day sipping lemonade from a rocking chair (after all, you are rocking). Luckily, for every hundred or so shiny glass hotel towers crammed onto big city blocks, there are a handful of adorable hotels in quaint towns with classic character and cozy features. So head towards Main Street — because there’s nothing more comforting than nibbling on a warm slice of Americana and admiring the view from a friendly wraparound porch. Here are our top ten picks.

Hob Knob, Martha’s Vineyard

Hob Knob

Centrally along a quaint stretch of Main Street, the Hob Knob is a welcoming bed-and-breakfast with a well-landscaped yard and wrap-around porch. Of course, in high-tourist season the prices reflect its status as a popular boutique — but in a lot of ways, you do get what you pay for. Rooms are spacious and comfortable with Berber carpeting, luxurious European linens and bathrobes, lovely Classic American-cottage decor (though some rooms feel more tended to than others), and pretty bathrooms with marble sinks. Other highlights include the free organic, full-farm breakfast, and the fact that downtown Edgartown is a short walk away. This place isn’t really geared toward families, though — children under the age of seven aren’t allowed, and teens would likely be bored by the lack of a pool on-site.

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We love whenever we can get a peek into the lives of the rich and famous, and we find it particularly thrilling to visit the haunts of timeless Hollywood stars and hallowed, storied authors (excuse the pun) of yore. After all, there’s something about the celebs of the past that’s just so much more elegant and refined — even in their infamous debauchery — than those of today’s tabloids. Fortunately, luxurious, historic hotels make it possible to revisit the good ole days, and we find ourselves especially interested in the Mediterranean spots they’d jet off to. So here we bring you five iconic jetsetter getaways in the Mediterranean.

Santa Caterina Hotel, Amalfi Coast

Santa Caterina Hotel

While most of the Amalfi hotels can claim excellent views across the coast, the 66 room-and-suite Santa Caterina Hotel has got five-star features, harmonious antique style, and fragrant gardens. Built against Amalfi’s seaside cliffs in 1880 as a home residence and turned into a hotel in 1904, this luxury property was once a favorite getaway of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and in more recent days, has welcomed celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The Santa Caterina’s four generations of ownership have treated her well, preserving historic elements while successively and successfully adding modern comfort and style.  Guests can take advantage of the wellness center, exclusive swimming pool access, and gym. Dining options range from the elegant Restaurant Santa Caterina to the more casual Al Mare eatery, along with an expansive wine cellar. This property is brand new on Oyster!

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the hotelIt’s been a tough couple of years for Atlantic City, thanks in no small part to the destruction Hurricane Sandy left in its wake. So as hotel experts who, like, really, love hotels, today is a sad day as the just-over-two-years-old Revel officially closed its casino doors this morning after shuttering the hotel on Monday evening. The casino resort is one of three AC hotels to fold in just a two-week period; Showboat closed on Sunday and the Trump Plaza is scheduled to close on September 16. But let’s reflect on happier times, shall we? Like when Kanye announced that now-wife Kim Kardashian was pregnant during a concert at the resort. Or when Michelle Obama attended a Beyonce performance there. Or when our hotel expert got to nosh on these delicious fish tacos during her stay! We hate to use a pun, but we guess Revel just never got to experience beginner’s luck.

Take a walk down memory lane after the jump with pretty pics of this doomed property >>

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This post originally appeared on Yahoo! Travel

Covered in sandy beaches, surrounded by the Aegean’s blue crystalline waters, and featuring traditional smooth white architecture against dark volcanic rock, the Cyclades are some of the most famous islands in world. With outstanding beauty and sweeping sea views from almost every angle, it’s not surprising that this gorgeous collection of Greek Isles has goddess origins. According to Greek mythology, a small set of sea nymphs infuriated Poseidon, God of the Sea, and thus promptly found themselves turned into tiny islands. While legends of Greek deities may have come and gone and changed over time, these islands remain — and as dazzling as ever. Lucky for us mere mortals, some of the hotels found here are just as stunning as the Cyclades themselves. Be them “God’s-eye-view” boutiques cut into volcanic cliffs, ultra-luxe properties nestled along the turquoise waters of the Aegean, or traditional caves boasting breathtaking architecture, these are some of the Cyclades’ most stunning hotels.

Aenaon Villas, Santorini

Aenaon Villas

This small hotel on the island of Santorini is comprised of seven luxury villas featuring fireplaces, private verandas, and high-end decor details. Elevated atop the less crowded northern curve of the area’s caldera, Aenaon Villas is set up for upscale couples searching for a private retreat (there are no children under 12 permitted — instead, there’s room service and personal butlers). Aesthetically pleasing, the hotel presents tall stone walls curving around a traditional blanched-white facade with cutout windows and archways. Dark earth tones, reminiscent of mud or clay, are painted in window and door frames and accent the stone walls.

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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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Sure, Labor Day has come to be synonymous with the beach and end-of-summer parties, but it’s actually a holiday with more industrious beginnings. In 1882, the first Labor Day was held in New York City to create a holiday for workers, thanks to the efforts of the Central Labor Union; the group wanted a day to allow the public to appreciate and acknowledge the work of the trade and labor organizations. Made a federal holiday in 1894, Labor Day has become more and more celebratory throughout its 120 years and often features parades, music, food, and all-around festivities. Many of the biggest parades occur in smaller cities throughout the country, so if you’re still looking for something to do before we say farewell to summer, consider a trip to these locales! These eight parades are sure to make for an afternoon of family-friendly fun!

Charlotte, NC

Charlotte

Charlotte may be a bustling city these days, but it still retains its southern charm. Freedom Park, the Rosedale Plantation, and one of the country’s best symphony and operas can all be found in this lovely North Carolina destination. The historic city will be celebrating the three-day weekend by hosting a Labor Day Parade with the theme “An old-fashioned parade, union-made!” Next Monday, the parade will begin at 11:00 a.m. at the Hal Marshall Center. Expect to see local union floats, beauty queens, and political candidates.

Stay: Charlotte Marriott City Center

The Charlotte Marriott City Center hotel is a quick 13-minute walk to the parade starting point. The hotel boasts spacious rooms, the acclaimed Savannah Red Restaurant, and a cool cigar bar.

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rooftop pool

Electra Palace Hotel Athens is a beautiful luxury property with 150 rooms in the neighborhood of Plaka. The grounds and facilities are gorgeous, featuring an outdoor garden with manicured lawns and a pavilion where guests can enjoy the free breakfast. The rooftop restaurant, pool, and surrounding deck offer stunning views of the Acropolis. The hotel has a spa with a large indoor and hot tub, as well as a fitness center. Rooms offer classical decor with crown molding, wooden floors, and area rugs. From the gold lettering and five stars crowning the hotel’s entrance to the five-tiered chandelier hanging from the lobby ceiling, Electra Palace specializes in opulent details and fabulous stays. 

See more beautiful pics of the Electra Palace after the jump >>

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August is an antsy month. Back to school madness descends upon parents, kids, and coeds alike, with everyone looking to squeeze in one last shore run before class starts up once again. Then September rolls into town with the first inklings of crisper weather — and the lure of the shore is only heightened. But where to go? For many East Coasters, a quick trip to Southern neighbors where the sands are still toasty and the waves still refreshing is dampened by the threat of Mother Nature’s finest beast: The Hurricane. The Gulf Coast becomes a ghost of what it once was, and Caribbean tourists flock to other beachfront locales where winds and rain aren’t so rampant. But for the brave of heart (who are more scared of a high price tag than some high winds), traveling to the eye of the storm means gorgeous, uncrowded beaches and tranquil luxury resorts at extremely reasonable rates. It goes without saying that safety comes first, and booking a trip during this time of year to some of our favorite Gulf and Caribbean destinations won’t always pan out. So make sure to double check with your favorite weatherman and get the scoop on how the winds are swirling across the Atlantic before you purchase. (You can always hit up these hurricane-proof spots if you’d rather not risk it.) But if you’re ready for a little adventure on the cheap, here’s a selection of Oyster’s favorite hurricane hideaways to get you started on your end-of-summer getaway!

1. The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel, Jamaica

Negril

A peaceful and beautiful resort, The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel was designed to be a true escape for couples and small groups that want to relax, be pampered, and enjoy a quiet getaway in Negril, Jamaica. For adults only, the intimate hotel (which maintains a maximum 47 visitors) features individual cottages, all-inclusive packages for dining at the on-site restaurant and bar, a variety of spa services, and an incredible view of the Negril cliffs plunging into the Caribbean Sea. Read More »

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