Seattle

The Outlook Inn is one of the most romantic spots on the San Juan Islands.

Couples have a lot of reasons to be attracted to the Evergreen State. From sleek Seattle boutiques to secluded inns on the San Juan Islands, there’s a little something for every romantic in this corner of the Pacific Northwest. Outdoorsy couples will love hiking in the romantic Snoqualmie Valley, in the shadow of one of Washington’s many waterfalls, while city-slickers will fall in love with Seattle’s funky food scene and vibrant nightlife. So if you’re planning a romantic getaway with that special someone to Washington State, be sure to consider these hotels ready for romance.

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Let’s face it: Traveling can bring out the inner germaphobe in even the most adventurous of us, and for good reason. There are lots of health risks encountered in your hotel room that you won’t necessarily find at home, from mold to industrial cleaning product residue. Didn’t even cross your mind ’til now? Well, fear not — more and more hotels are offering solutions, so your next hotel stay can be cleaner and safer than ever before. Read on to find out what to be wary of — and what you can do about it.

The Orchard Hotel in San Francisco uses chemical-free cleaning products.

The Orchard Hotel in San Francisco uses chemical-free cleaning products.

The Risk: Chemical Cleaning Products

The chemicals in cleaning products used in many hotel rooms can make you sick — and routine exposure (road warriors, take note) can be life-threatening. Exposure to the carcinogens in cleaning products can increase cancer risk, while endocrine disruptors found in many pesticides, detergents, and disinfectants can confuse body hormones and cause fertility problems or even miscarriages.

The Solution: Chemical-Free Cleaning Products

Eco-friendly hotel initiatives are growing increasingly popular, and these days many hotels are being recognized for their efforts by organizations such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). So don’t be afraid to ask hotel staff about the cleaning products they use, or check out our research here. One of our favorite LEED-certified hotels is The Orchard Hotel, which was at the forefront of this movement. Among the very first LEED-certified hotels in San Francisco, the Orchard uses chemical-free cleaning products — among many other impressive green practices.

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Seattle may be known for its rain (among many other things — Starbucks, anyone?) but that shouldn’t stop you from getting out and exploring all the city has to offer. Fortunately, our “What to See in Seattle” half-dozen video includes outdoor and indoor fun just in case the clouds get too ominous. Whether you want to hit up the major tourist sights or do as the locals do, we have an activity for you, and a hotel that’s convenient for each.

Watch more Oyster videos here »

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For those with disabilities, the challenges of traveling go beyond just getting to the airport on time and figuring out the TV in their hotel rooms. But fortunately, numerous destinations in the U.S. and abroad continue to work towards making travel for the handicapped as smooth as possible. We’ve visited quite a few spots during our travels and have come up with a list of the most handicap-friendly destinations around the world. First up, Seattle!

Even the Space Needle is a wheelchair-friendly attraction in Seattle.

Seattle, WA

Seattle is continuously ranked as one of the most disabled-friendly cities in the U.S., thanks in large part to its condensed downtown area and public transportation system. Since the city did not begin operating its first rail system until 2009, it is entirely built to comply with ADA standards, unlike older major railway transits in cities such as New York and Boston. The Emerald City also has tons of entirely accessible attractions such as the Seattle Museum, Pike Place Market, and even the Space Needle.

Stay:  Hyatt at Olive 8

This hotel is not only known for its chic and eco-friendly decor and design, but also for its great downtown location and variety of assistance services. The hotel has just about every feature offered in Braille, along with audio-visual smoke detectors and ADA-approved rooms.

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If you’re one of the many shoppers out there struggling with gift buying this holiday season, don’t fret. Whether you’re a road warrior with no time to shop or just looking for a ‘lil inspiration, we’ve found a surprising source for great gift ideas: hotels. From gourmet goodies to decadent bath products to home decor, hotels have plenty of items that can make the perfect present — so swipe something on your next hotel stay (and pay up, of course!) or simply swipe the suggestion!

Gift Idea: Signature Pantry Goodies

Guests can buy signature pantry items from The Merrion kitchen, such as red onion marmalade.

Guests can buy signature pantry items from The Merrion kitchen, such as red onion marmalade.

Little-known fact about hotels: Some of the really, really nice ones have their own signature gourmet goodies. At The Merrion, for example, the hotel chef sells kitchen creations such as red onion marmalade (4 euros, or about $5) and hotel-brand chocolate bars crafted under the guidance of chocolatiers in France, both for sale in the in-room minibars. In addition, entire holiday hampers of treats can be purchased. One of our favorites? The Merrion Hamper, with items such as cranberry sauce, brandy butter, mulled wine and grape chutney, macaroons, mince pies, chocolate truffles, Christmas pudding, and lemon oil, all for 55 euro (about $72). At The Shelbourne Dublin, more tasty seasonal signature treats are for sale, such as various relishes (4.95 euros, about $6.50), preserves (4.95 euros, about $6.50), and even Christmas pudding (10 euros, about $13).

Oyster’s Picks for Where to Swipe ‘Em: The Merrion Hotel in Dublin, The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel

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Luxury King Room at The Hazelton Hotel; Toronto, Canada

Luxury King Room at The Hazelton Hotel; Toronto, Canada

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Hazelton Hotel in Toronto is offering a 199,000-CAD (about $201,500) holiday shopping package that includes round-trip flights on a private jet, two nights in a 1,860-square-foot suite, and personal shopper, stylist, and Art Concierge services.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Trump International Hotel and Tower New York has launched a photo contest to decorate the hotel lobby and hallways during the holiday season. The winner will receive a free one-night stay at the hotel.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Lindsay Lohan and The Wanted’s Max George were recently seen canoodling at the Liberty Hotel in Boston after a long night of partying.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Strand has partnered with 50 Cent, offering the option of waking up to a pre-recorded wake-up call from the rapper himself.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Hyatt at Olive 8 has been named the U.S.’s top place to work for LGBT equality for the ninth consecutive year.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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Deluxe Room at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel; New York, NY

Deluxe Room at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel; New York, NY

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Patrons of The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel’s Bemelmans Bar booed Bono when he unexpectedly joined the bar’s band while they were performing I’ve Got You Under My Skin. Guests claimed it stole the spotlight from the talented band members.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Montage Beverly Hills shut down the hotel’s exclusive bar per Brangelina’s request, as the couple wanted to dine without being interrupted by fans and nosy guests.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Westin Washington, DC City Center is famous for being the spot where then-Mayor Marion Barry was arrested by the FBI in 1990 while smoking crack.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? German hotel chain Kempinski will manage North Korea’s famous Ryugyong Hotel, which was first started in 1987 but was stalled for years due to the country’s economic crisis.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Hotel Vintage Park – A Kimpton Hotel recently opened the Airstream Room, which is housed in a refurbished vintage Airstream trailer equipped with a double bed and a sitting area.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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We Americans love our coffee. After all, the average adult guzzles around 70 gallons of coffee a year – and spends over $1,000 annually on morning doses of caffeine. While the habit can be hard on your wallet, the health benefits of consuming coffee are numerous: Research shows it can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and heart disease. And particularly for business travelers who need to work through the night and then impress clients the next morning – all while recovering from jet lag – a ready cup of Joe is essential. We’ve found five of the best hotel coffee bars across the states so you can get that jolt you need without having to leave your hotel.

Best Coffee Bar for When You’re Burning the Midnight Oil:

Perks Coffee at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio

Perks Coffee at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio

Perks Coffee at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio

A popular business hotel – with amenities such as a full-service FedEx business center and modern meeting rooms – the Grand Hyatt also features Perks Coffee, a cute coffee-bar-meets-convenience-store. Along with coffee, Perks serves up tasty pastries and prepackaged sandwiches and salads, and best of all, it’s open around the clock so you can work through the night.

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Lobby at Liberty Hotel; Boston, MA

Lobby at Liberty Hotel; Boston, MA

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Liberty Hotel in Boston was busted last month for offering guests a welcome glass of champagne, which violates a Massachusetts law that bans free liquor.

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The new “Stay Well Rooms” at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas include amenities such as shower water infused with vitamin C to promote healthy hair and skin.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Hotel St. George in Brooklyn was New York’s smallest hotel in the 1940’s, with just two rooms and a tiny bar.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Throughout September and October, guests staying at participating Kimpton Hotels can learn kitchen knife skills with lessons from the property’s chef.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Mindy Kaling and John Mayer were spotted making out at the Trump SoHo New York’s new restaurant, Koi.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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The iconic Chateau Marmont has been a celeb favorite for years.

The iconic Chateau Marmont has been a celeb favorite for years.

1. FACT OR FAKEOUT? Lindsay Lohan owes the Chateau Marmont a whopping $46,000 “in minibar charges, cigarette purchases and restaurant bills.”

2. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Snoqualmie Falls — which the luxe Salish Lodge & Spa overlooks – is Washington’s second most visited attraction.

3. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The price of spending a night in the Tiffany Suite at The St. Regis New York is the same as the price of a pair of platinum Victoria cluster earrings with marquis diamonds from Tiffany & Co.

4. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino will be hosting the world’s largest bachelorette party — ever – at the end of the month.

5. FACT OR FAKEOUT? The average price of a night’s stay in a double room in Newport, RI is $319, making it the most expensive city in the U.S. when it comes to hotels.

Check out the answers after the jump!

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