Suburbia often gets overlooked, especially by those planning a vacation – often an adventurous vacation purposely away from the cookie cutter homes and manicured lawns that the suburbs are known for. But sometimes, a touch of the familiar can be reassuring when exploring a new city. And hotels outside the city limits — but near enough at hand to get to all of the action with ease — usually come at a fraction of the cost of their city neighbors. In fact, some of Oyster’s favorite hotels call the suburbs home. From New York City to London and beyond, we have found charming hotel options outside of the major city limits that are just waiting to welcome you with open arms and suburban flair. (Trust us, it exists. See for yourself below.)
New Yorkers are used to commuting. The suburbs give the great isle of Manhattan a chance to really spread out and breathe — as much as one can in one of the five boroughs. Vacationers looking to pinch a few pennies and experience another side of the City that Never Sleeps should explore Manhattan’s neighbors. And for a real dose of Brooklyn, what many (hipsters) consider the best corner of NYC, it doesn’t get more authentic than The Box House Hotel. This former door factory houses 57 apartment-style rooms designed by local Brooklynite Kip Jacobs, who is a friend of the owners. The spacious rooms and lofts (some sleep six) attract families, couples and those conducting business — mostly film crews. Modern kitchens and free extras include bottled water and coffee, rides within a mile-and-a-half radius, and use of the stylish fitness center. This is a hidden gem for those seeking breathing room and easy access to Manhattan.
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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.
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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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.
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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During the summer, it’s almost impossible to stay indoors come happy hour. While the cooler months — spent with friends crowding in cozy bars and huddling by the fire — are fast approaching, there’s still time for some rooftop boozin’ — and fortunately, enjoying the sun and stars with a drink in hand is made easy at some of our favorite hotels. Offering stunning vistas and delicious cocktails, these rooftop bars are destinations unto to themselves in cities far and wide.
The Refinery Hotel is a stylish urban boutique in New York‘s Garment District, located in a historic building that was once a tea salon and hat factory. The property’s past inspired its present industrial-chic design, and small details such as decorative milliner’s tools pay homage to the building’s former function. The property’s cool rooftop bar — aptly named Refinery Rooftop — offers gorgeous views of the Empire State Building and a rotating menu of seasonal cocktails designed by Alex Ott. Reservations are recommended at this swanky spot where DJs are known to perform on Thursday and Friday nights — but guests of the hotel may have a leg up on getting through the door. Read More »
During our travels we’ve stayed in the cutest, quaintest, and tiniest of hotels. And while we love the intimate and peaceful vibe that many smaller properties can offer, sometimes staying near the action just isn’t enough. We want to be in the thick of it. That way we can to go into full-on relaxation (read: lazy) vacation mode and have everything we could ever want right at our fingertips. Why should you have to jump in a car (or even worse — on a bus) just to meet a few people, see a show, or dance the night away? Luckily, these 12 massive village-style properties don’t think you should; in fact, they are hoping you won’t! Packed to the brim with communal conveniences like multiple restaurants, several pools, nightclubs, theaters, tons of activities, kids programs — even grocery stores, pharmacies, and bowling alleys — some of these places are so big they have on-site shuttles and maps to get you where you want to go amid sprawling grounds. And with enough rooms to house populations in the hundreds and thousands, they promise to be teeming with tons of potential new pals. It may take a village to create your perfect vacation — but at these properties, it’s worth it!
The 674-room Grand Palladium Bavaro is spread over spacious grounds (guests also have access to two sister properties) offering an incredible selection of 15 bars, five buffets, and eight restaurants. Walking shoes are recommended, but family-friendly amenities, lower prices than some neighboring properties, and renovated rooms are big draws. In 2014, the resort added 178 units — including a swim-up suite option overlooking the beach (a great pick for honeymooners). Kids and their parents will appreciate the outstanding kids’ club, but take note: the beach can get crowded.
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For travelers on a budget, a jaunt to the Mediterranean might seem off limits. Known for its gorgeous scenery, temperate climate, sumptuous cuisine, and sky-high price tags, the area is often thought of as a playground exclusively for the rich and famous. But we believe everyone deserves a fabulous vacation and a trip to the Mediterranean is, well, fabulous! So our team of Oyster investigators has searched high and low to find hotels across the Mediterranean that are a little more wallet-friendly than you’d expect. (We don’t expect any thanks and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves but, sure — you’re welcome). Here are 11 of our favorites.
Villaggio Colostrai is a budget traveler’s best bet in Sardinia. The hotel offers a free breakfast buffet, nightly activities for adults and children, and free parking. Rooms are pretty basic, and the hotel doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, but its manicured grounds and incredible pool, with sweeping views of the Mediterranean, will certainly make up for any shortcomings.
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Many hotels that we visit are housed in brand-spanking-new buildings, erected in recent years for the sole purpose of being the site of that “just opened” Marriott or Four Seasons. But some properties, recently opened ones and historic ones alike, instead reinvent old spaces to create the hotels that visitors call home during their vacations. And some of these old buildings have quite the story to tell! From prisons to plantations, the 10 hotels on this list were once the sites of quite different operations, and all have storied – whether eerie or interesting or just downright weird – pasts.
For nearly 150 years, this tall granite building was known as the Charles Street Jail and housed some of Boston’s most heinous criminals. In 2007, after a painstaking restoration that preserved elements of the prison design, it reopened as the Liberty Hotel. The result is stunning, with nearly 300 rooms, a 90-foot-tall atrium, winding catwalks, and high, circular windows that flood the lobby with light. The hotel’s popular restaurants and bars play on the jailhouse theme with names like Alibi, Clink, and The Yard.
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Fitness centers, outdoor pools and spas are common amenities at hotels these days, but want to know one of our favorite features offered? Live music! We’ve visited quite a few hotels that are a fun place to catch a show, whether you’re a guest or live in the surrounding area. From poolside DJ sets to soulful jazz in a cozy lounge, hotels give their guests a unique way to enjoy the city without leaving the grounds. If you’re someone who loves to kick back and enjoy live music, you’ll definitely want to bookmark these 10 hotels!
This upper-middle-range, 180-room hipster haven has a palpable party vibe and frequent music nights with a live DJ. The style is retro, with 70s details such as record players and vinyl in the rooms. The property draws a young crowd and can get quite loud with its purposeful off-the-beaten-path vibe. Their Swim Club members get year-round access to the outdoor swimming hole, gym, spa and poolside happenings like their DJ events and the Reggae Sol party on the last Saturday of each month. Although it gets crowded, lounging by the pool while a DJ spins sounds like a fun way to spend the day to us!
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Summertime always gets us nostalgic, particularly when we think back to our busy days and peaceful nights spent at summer camp. Everything was just simpler then, right? Counselors chose the activities, the kitchen staff provided all the grub, and at night the soft sounds of nature — plus the fact that you were dead-tired from the day’s adventures — put you right to sleep. Well, you may be all grown up now, but you can still relive those days — and bonus: no need for matching uniforms. When summer was just beginning to hint its arrival, we told you about the best hotels stateside for pitching a tent (and we threw in a Botswana property just for good measure). So this time, we’re focusing solely on international destinations where you can experience a new kind of summer camp-like getaway that’s adults-friendly (and most are kid-friendly, too). Check out our top picks for outdoorsy, campy properties outside the U.S.
Billed as a high-end camping village, this property has some fun amenities — a striking pool, a Turkish bath, and tennis courts — with bungalows of various sizes spread out over a large wooded area about 500 meters from the beach. Some of the newer, larger bungalows are on the luxurious side; ones at lower price points are a little on the shabby end (although they may be more reminiscent of a summer camp stay than the others). The property offers numerous play areas for kids, as well as daytime and nighttime activities, and it has an on-site market so guests can make use of the in-room kitchens. The hotel also provides a shuttle to the nearby seaside town of Castiglione della Pescaia.
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Sometimes, the journey is about the destination. Because the destination is so special, your whole travel experience is wrapped up inside it. We’ve traveled the world and have been to some pretty special spots. From a western dude ranch to a Florentine palazzo to an African canoe excursion, these 11 trips offer a far richer experience than your typical overnight stay.