Rome

Tanque Verde, a quintessential Western dude ranch

Tanque Verde, a quintessential Western dude ranch

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.

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1 Trip, 5 Ways: Rome

by Jane Reynolds on March 8, 2013

The “eternal city,” Rome boasts a history that dates back two-and-a-half-thousand years. Stunning Renaissance architecture stands alongside ancient ruins, and iconic structures such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon are some of the world’s most-visited sites. In fact, Rome is the third most-visited city is Europe, coming in just after Paris and London. We’ve found just the spot to stay for almost every kind of traveler, so whether you’re planning a romantic getaway or want to take a bite out of the best Italian cuisine, Oyster has a hotel for you. Check them out below!

Hotel for Couples: Villa Spalletti Trivelli

Garden at the Villa Spalletti Trivelli

Garden at the Villa Spalletti Trivelli

This upscale boutique hotel, with just 12 rooms, is housed in a gorgeous historic mansion less than 10 minutes from the Trevi Fountain. Despite its small size, the hotel goes above and beyond with the amenities, offering a gym, a beautiful spa, a lovely outdoor garden, and an excellent free breakfast — all things that help set the mood of romance.
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One Bal Harbour Resort bathrooms have some of the best views in the Miami.

Some people prefer to read a magazine in the restroom, but we’d much rather gaze out over a stunning view. There’s nothing we love more than exotic sights, no matter where we’re taking in the view — the shower, tub, or elsewhere. From Hong Kong to Miami, Boston to Barcelona, here are our favorite hotel views from the best seat in the house.

 

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This week Pope Benedict XVI becomes the first pope in nearly 600 years to step down from the papacy, citing mental and physical health issues for the reasoning behind his resignation. After Thursday, he will simply hold the title of “His Holiness Benedict XVI, Roman pontiff emeritus.” But despite His Holiness’ still impressive job description, Benedict will have to relinquish many of his accouterments, including his papal ring, Swiss Guard, and his forever stylish red shoes. He plans to retire to a life of seclusion and prayer within a monastery in Vatican City that is being restored for his use.

Even though the Vatican will be welcoming Benedict back soon, as of 8 P.M. tomorrow, His Holiness will be but a visitor within its walls. Saint Peter’s Basilica — and the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide — will have a new pope presiding over matters. (Side-note: A front-runner for the position, despite some serious controversy, is from the United States.) At least 50,000 people are expected to attend Benedict’s final public address today, and thousands more are sure to arrive as the College of Cardinals assembles to choose the next pontificate. And so, on Vatican City’s behalf, we’d like to say goodbye to ol’ Benedict with a last look around Saint Peter’s Square. Arrividerci, Pontiff!

Vatican City, a separate city-state within Rome, is the official seat of the Catholic Church.

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There are plenty of different ways to travel in Europe – from shoestring-budget trips to over-the-top getaways worthy of the British royals. Here at Oyster we’ve been lucky enough to be able to do both (seriously, the budget hotels in Europe are pretty nice!), but the holidays are for wishing and dreaming, so we’re going to help you put together your own list of top places to get pampered in 2013. Keep reading and discover our favorite luxury hotels in Europe!

Hotel Plaza Athenee, Paris

These luxurious rooms have classic, elegant decor, but modern technologies.

These luxurious rooms have classic, elegant decor, but modern technologies.

The world-renowned luxury hotel Plaza Athenee — a part of the Dorchester Collection — is synonymous with Parisian elegance and good taste. Iconic red awnings and chestnut trees welcome guests to the historic setting, on the upscale Avenue Montaigne location with direct views of the Eiffel Tower. It’s all about luxury here, inside and out. The avenue is lined with high-end shops such as Christian Dior, Prada, and Chanel. And inside, the 146 rooms and 45 suites are decorated in classic Art Deco style with modern touches like flat-screen TVs and marble baths. With six distinct restaurants, a large fitness center, and a can’t-miss daily breakfast in a leafy garden, the Plaza Athenee doesn’t miss a beat.

  • Our favorite luxe amenity: Guests have access to the Dior Institute for a full range of quality beauty and spa treatments.

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This year, the Festival of Lights takes place from this Saturday (December 8th) through the 16th. Celebrations vary from the traditional — lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, and giving gelt — to the more unique gatherings (skiing with the “Adventure Rabbi”, anyone?), but all are heartfelt, fun affairs that involve the whole family. Jews around the globe will be coming together over the next eight nights, and there are plenty of events for them to explore the world over. We’ve collected some of our favorites here, but no matter where you end up, here’s wishing you and yours a very Happy Hanukkah!

This holiday season, The Plaza is playing host to the world's largest menorah, in addition to other celebrated guests.

Visit the World’s Largest Menorah in New York City

Standing 32 feet tall and weighing two tons, New York City‘s menorah is the largest in the world. It stands on a piece of prime real estate, right in front of the iconic Plaza hotel on 5th Avenue, across the street from Central Park. Admission is free, and guests can stay to enjoy sufganiyot — holiday jelly donuts — and folk dancing after the lighting, which starts at 5:30 nightly (excluding the Sabbath). On December 8th, there will also be live music, singing, and dancing to kick off the holiday, as well as Hanukkah gelt for the children and hot latkes for everyone to enjoy.

Where to Stay: The Plaza

As NYC’s menorah is so conveniently located in front of The Plaza, why not stay at the iconic New York hotel? The century-old landmark has huge rooms, gold-plated bathroom fixtures, an exceptional spa, and 24-hour butler service. It’s definitely worth the splurge this holiday season.

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‘Tis the season for annual awards lists, but if you think you know what’s coming, guess again. Oyster’s awards aren’t like the other guys’ — we’re not like the other guys, so why should our awards be? You can find lists of the world’s best luxury hotels in a dozen other places, but only Oyster digs deep to learn every hotel’s secret quirks. Our hotel investigators trot the globe and visit every hotel in person so we can bring you the unvarnished truth, and this year, for the first-ever annual Oyster Hotel Awards, we’d like to show you the wackiest, coolest, weirdest, and most interesting things they came across in their travels. We are thrilled to present the 2012 selection of Oyster’s Most Interesting Hotels in the World. Are you ready for this?

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Oyster Decodes Hotel Points Programs is a new series where we break down hotel rewards programs and give you the inside scoop on how they can save you money.
 
Hotel point programs are not always easy to decipher, and sometimes even we (travel experts, after all) feel we need a guide to understand how they work. But it’s worth the effort it takes to decode: All are free to join, and more often than not, end up saving travelers a significant amount of cash. This week, we’re biting the bullet and starting with cracking the Marriott rewards program, which is one of the most difficult to navigate as guests can redeem their points at over 3,600 locations worldwide across 12 distinctive brands.
 
Marriott properties are divided into eight categories — depending on the hotel brand, location and type — and five tiers.  Members can earn up to 10 points for every dollar spent at Marriott hotels, as well as at Marriott’s partner airlines and rental car companies, which include Hertz, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic. They can then redeem the points earned on hotels, airlines and other services. While advantages of joining the program are numerous, the system is not always straightforward, so we’ve selected some of our favorite hotels in each category and tier where, for a certain number of points (starting at 70,000), you can enjoy a one night stay in a standard room. Start redeeming those points!

Tier 5: 70,000 points

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong - Hong Kong, China

The gorgeous indoor pool has great views and a Jacuzzi

The gorgeous indoor pool has great views and a Jacuzzi

Only a few hotels in Hong Kong deliver the Ritz-Carlton’s level of luxury. Large rooms feature decadent touches, such as plush beds with 400- to 600-thread count linens, iPods and iPod docks, Nespresso coffeemakers, and high-end toiletries. The hotel is set on floors 102 to 118 of Hong Kong’s tallest building, and while acrophobes may not appreciate being this far from the ground, the height does make for breathtaking views — that is, when the sky is clear. Highlights include a stylish indoor pool, sleek gym, and top-notch spa. The Ritz-Carlton is connected to a great shopping mall and corporate offices, and also offers easy access to the airport train and the MTR. However, its location in an up-and-coming business area west of Tsim Sha Tsui is a bit out of the way for leisure travelers.

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View of Rome from Albergo Del Senato

View of Rome from Albergo Del Senato

Ahhhh, the Eternal City. There are few other cities with a history as alive as Rome‘s, and it’s easy to see why it’s one of the three most popular metropolises in Europe. Ancient ruins stand alongside Renaissance palazzos and buzzing cafes, and the works of art that can be viewed in the city’s museums and churches are enough to make any culture lover drool. There’s so much to do and see that knowing where to start can be a little overwhelming — so to make it easier, we’ve broken down the city’s must-see spots, and let you know where to stay nearby.

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Who doesn’t like to wake up in the morning and find the Eiffel Tower outside their window? Or open the drapes at night and see the Chicago River glittering with hundreds of lights from the nearby skyscrapers? Most of us don’t have that at home, but, hey, that’s what hotels are for, right? Check out the first in a series of our most favorite sights (and eye-sores) from the best hotels around the globe. Get ready to start planning your next urban getaway by checking out our favorite city views!

The King Deluxe Room at the Palazzo Manfredi; Rome, Italy

The King Deluxe Room at the Palazzo Manfredi; Rome, Italy

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