Savannah

Okay, as hotel experts we love traveling; we really, really love it. But even for us, saying goodbye to our side of the bed, our cups in the kitchen, our own personal brand of snack food stashed in the fridge, and all those other things that make our abode “homey” can be bittersweet. Thankfully, many hotels are stepping up their game when it comes to providing guests with their creature comforts of choice. From in-room kitchens to roaring fireplaces, these hotels come equipped with tons of great amenities to make you feel like you never walked out your front door — and with these amenities come all the fun perks inherent of a vacation. So fear not the unknown, these homey hotels are awaiting your stay with open arms and familiar treats.

1. Villa D’ Citta, Chicago 

villa d citta

The six-room Villa D’ Citta is a cozy, romantic bed-and-breakfast located in the residential neighborhood of Lincoln Park. Its homey features are all charming: an outdoor whirlpool and sun deck, a brick courtyard with a barbecue, and a large communal kitchen. The bright, luxurious rooms have big flat-screen TVs and hardwood floors, and some come complete with fireplaces.

Homiest Feature: The communal kitchen comes fully stocked with all of the snacks you can imagine, and the outdoor patio features a barbecue grill perfect for warm summer nights.  Read More »

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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.

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Forget the haunted house. Those looking for a ghostly encounter this Halloween can get up close and personal with departed spirits in the luxury of a hotel room. Because who says you shouldn’t have room service while you’re feeling spooked? These hotels across the country allegedly have some very active poltergeist activity – so prepare for some chills and thrills on your next overnight stay.

The Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami

Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami Biltmore Coral Gables, Miami

Originally opened as a playground for the rich in 1926, the Biltmore Coral Gables is not only luxurious and elegant, but is also believed to be quite haunted. The (unlucky) 13th floor served as a speakeasy during Prohibition, when the hotel saw its first premature death: Gangster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh was shot and killed at a crowded party. Years later, the U.S. government bought the hotel and converted it into a hospital for World War II soldiers, where it saw countless more untimely passings. After being abandoned for several decades, the Biltmore re-opened in the 1980′s as a hotel, and ever since then guests have experienced unexplained noises and visions. The most chilling reports, however, come from those who get dropped off by the elevator on the 13th floor, even when that button is never pushed. Read More »

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A waterfront vacation doesn’t have to mean a trip to the beach. River locales, such as charming San Antonio or rugged Snoqualmie, offer plenty of the same draws as oceans and lakes. Flowing past some of America’s best cities, around mountain ranges, and through desserts, these rivers are the optimal alternative vacation spots for boating, fishing, hiking, and more while on vacation. So get ready to dive into our favorite river destinations.

1. May River in Bluffton, South Carolina 

The May River is just one corner of gorgeous Carolina Lowcountry.

Carolina Lowcountry is a truly other-worldly corner of the United States. Here, salty marshes and mossy forests are connected by scenic waterways. The May, Cooper, and New Rivers wind through the region’s haunting landscapes, providing visitors with unique ways to soak in the beauty of the region. Boating and kayaking are popular, especially since bottlenose dolphins are common in this area. You can also go fishing, crabbing, or shrimping.

STAY:  The Inn at Palmetto Bluff

This “inn” in Carolina Lowcountry is really more akin to a sprawling estate, offering a range of recreational facilities, including golf, bicycling, tennis, croquet, kayaking, and swimming; plus, the luxury spa is highly acclaimed. Read More »

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Hotel Ella, Austin, Texas

Hotel Ella, Austin, Texas

If there’s one word that can describe the ethereal beauty and warm ambiance of the South, it’s charming. And what better way to celebrate this corner of the United States than by reveling in a little bit of history during your visit? These mansions — most of them dating back to the 1800s — represent the epitome of Southern charm. So pack your bags and head for the Mason-Dixon Line: It’s time for some proper front porch sittin’.

 

 

 

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King Room at the Mansion on Forsyth Park; Savannah, GA

King Room at the Mansion on Forsyth Park; Savannah, GA

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Autograph Collection, which owns hotels such as the beautiful Mansion on Forsyth Park in Savannah, has a Facebook tool that analyzes your handwriting and recommends a holiday experience based on the findings.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? A woman was arrested for spending the night on a couch in the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel‘s lobby.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Sharon Osbourne was caught vacationing at the Esperanza Resort in Cabo San Lucas with a man that was not her husband.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? DoubleTree Hotels, a Hilton Hotels brand, has designed a clear vinyl hotel room complete with a bed, a bedside table, and a dresser. The company plans to open several pop-up, see-through hotels in New York, Sydney and London in 2013.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The FBI raided the Helly Nahmad Gallery at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel in New York last week as part of an investigation into unlawful gambling.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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When you go on vacation, you’re trying to escape the everyday chores of home — and that includes cooking. But cooking can actually be fun, especially if you have a master chef offering instructions. Plus, the best part of going to a cooking class? You don’t have to do the cleanup! Check out awesome hotels across the States (and one in Berlin because, well, why not?!) that offer on-site cooking lessons.

Mansion on Forsyth Park, Savannah

700 Kitchen Cooking School at the Mansion on Forsyth Park

Savannah, where chefs such as Paula Deen got their starts, is arguably the food capital of the South. One of the city’s top luxury hotels, the Mansion on Forsyth also boasts one of the city’s top attractions: It’s on-site cooking classes at the 700 Kitchen Cooking School. In classes of no more than fifteen students, the hotel’s culinary director, Chef Darin Sehnert, teaches everyone from novices to (at least self-proclaimed) experts. Though different classes focus on a variety of cuisines, such as Italian and Caribbean, the most popular are the Low Country cuisine classes, where menus include delectable delights such as Low Country crab stew, angel biscuits, and green tomato cobbler. Classes are available for lunch and dinner; most last three hours and cost $100/person.

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The Inn at Palmetto Bluff is a romantic spot in Carolina Lowcountry.

Romance is alive and well below the Mason-Dixon line, where Southern charm makes everything seem more bewitching. Couples looking for a romantic getaway will be satisfied no matter their taste, considering that the region boasts both gorgeous antebellum mansions and modern luxury stays. Choosing the most romantic spots, then, is quite a difficult task, but we think we’re up to the challenge. From intimate city boutiques to sprawling Lowcountry estates, here are some of our favorite hotels in the South that are just the trick in the romance department.

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Trust us, we here at Oyster get it more than most people — going on vacation is freakin’ awesome. Vacations are all about fun, relaxation, and the “what happens here, stays here” vibe, and when you’re on a vacay, it feels like nothing can get ya down. But some hotel websites go a little too far and market their properties by showing “guests” in absolutely euphoric (and unrealistic) states. To the point where we’re pretty sure that that kind of happy can only be reached if you’ve been dabbling in some recreational, er, “fun.” And depending on the destination, maybe you have been. But still, when we’re deciding where to stay for our winter getaway, we usually don’t base it on how happy the “guests” on the website seem to be. Nonetheless, those photos can be pretty entertaining. Last time, we rounded up a bunch of marketing photos where the guests just couldn’t seem happier. And this time, we’ve done the same thing — but focused on those hotel couples that just seem so in luuuurve. We’re sorry, but even if we were married to Ryan Gosling, we wouldn’t be smiling that big! Check out some of the most hilarious hotel couples we found!

1. Your room or mine?

“What about one final fling before you marry that old ball and chain?” (Mansion on Forsyth Park, Savannah)

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From the cryptic mythology throughout the Mississippi Delta, to the spirits of wartime past down the Atlantic coast, the South has no shortage of spooky adventures. Whether you’re looking for a friendly encounter from the other side, or trying to find a true adrenaline rush by meeting with a tortured (undead) soul, these Southern haunts have plenty of history and unexplained mysteries for thrill-seeking travelers.

The Hotel: Embassy Suites Charleston, Historic Charleston

Be on the look-out for any "half-headed" cadets at this Charleston hotel

The ghostlore: Charleston prides itself on its chilling past, and it’s no wonder that the town where the Civil War started has its share of lingering souls. One of the city’s most haunted sites is the Embassy Suites hotel in the downtown Historic District. Known as the Old Citadel, the building formerly housed the State Arsenal and military college, which is located just a short drive away nowadays. Legend has it that The Lost Cadet, or “Half Head,” roams the hotel’s halls to this day. The spirit is said to be a young solider missing the top half of his head after losing it to a cannonball. But despite his misfortune, he apparently has a joyful demeanor. Read More »

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