Shopping and Travel

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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The New York Palace gets in the holiday mood -- maybe they're inspired by the holiday shops at Bryant Park?

Christmas markets, or Christkindlmarkts as they are known in Germany, originated in the Late Middle Ages as a way to celebrate the beginning of Advent — the four-week lead-up to Christmas Day. Usually hosted in town squares, these street fairs offer all kinds of seasonal charm, including handcrafted Christmas decorations and gifts, and tasty treats like mulled wine and gingerbread. From Scotland to Chicago, German-style Christmas markets are offering a jolly dose of holiday cheer to people around the globe. Here are some of our favorite Christmas markets the world-over — and the charming hotels to call home so that visions of sugar plums are sure to dance through your head all night long.

Berlin’s Christmas Markets

With over 60 Christmas markets held each holiday season in Berlin, those seeking some magical winter charm need look no further than the German capital. The creme-de-la-Christmas-creme, however, can be found at the historic Gendarmenmart, which is bordered by the French and German Cathedral on one side and the Concert House on the other. Visitors can wander the many booths lining the streets, or visit the heated craftsmen tent where toy makers, goldsmiths, and wood carvers show off their talents. The market stays open through New Year’s Eve, when visitors can hear various bands, toast the New Year with fireworks, and dance a traditional waltz after midnight. There is a one-Euro entrance fee (which is odd for a Christmas market) and New Year’s Eve tickets cost 10 Euro. Other historic Christmas markets in Germany include Dresden’s and Nuremberg’s charming fairs.

Where to Stay: Bleibtreu Hotel

Blumen 31 Flower Shop

A boutique property that has managed to ingratiate itself with its neighborhood, the Bleibtreu Hotel offers a charming bistro/diner and a flower shop with an outdoor garden that is often frequented by locals. Rooms are stylish and functional, if small, and are decorated with natural materials; some have balconies. Read More »

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The whimsical English design at the Crosby Street Hotel is a good fit for celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe, who checked in this week.

The Crosby Street Hotel has whimsical, English-influenced style.

Fashionistas heading to New York City for a shopping spree, take note: Oyster.com has paired up with Lucky Magazine to tell you not only where to stay on your next trip, but where to shop. We’ve selected chic New York City hotels to suit every style, and paired them up with some of Lucky’s favorite boutiques.

Where to go if you wear…

Eclectic boutique finds

Stay: Crosby Street Hotel, SoHo
If your closet is full of funky, colorful, one-of-a-kind finds, you’ll likely dig the Crosby Street Hotel’s whimsical English style. This U.K. import is sophisticated yet comfortable.

Shop: Babel Fair
Lucky Says…
Every six weeks, Kiang embarks on a global pilgrimage and brings back treasures like Peruvian oil vials, Spanish-print pants, Korean denimwear. 260 Elizabeth St., 646-360-3685, babelfair.com

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All the anticipation accumulated during these last few months before the Games began has given way to a thriving, festive atmosphere in London. Tourists from every corner of the world fill the streets, bars and hotels, and the stores are as full as if it were Christmas. Knightsbridge, Covent Garden and Oxford Street are arguably the top spots in London for high-end shopping, but there’s a whole other world beyond the fashionable boutiques and name-brand clothing. Flea and street markets have been around for decades now and are a popular weekend activity for the young and hip — but since there are so many in London, it can be difficult to find the cool ones. Whether you’re looking for a unique piece of jewelry, a funky T-shirt, or a vintage dress, you’re sure to find it in one of them — check out our favorite markets in London and get ready to spend some pounds!

Shop: The Camden Markets

Camden Stables Market. Credit: JKristoffersson/istockphoto

Camden Stables Market. Credit: JKristoffersson/istockphoto

The Camden Markets are a cluster of adjoining retail markets in Camden Town, northwest of central London. Fixed stores and pop-up stalls offer everything from vintage clothes, to shoes, to music and books. It opens seven days a week, but Saturday and Sunday are the most popular and fun days. The Camden Stables Market is a historic market bursting with vintage clothing, antiques, collectables, and food stalls. The Camden Lock features arts and crafts, jewelry and a wide variety of books. For great fashion items, as well as crafts and food, head to Camden Lock Village. And if what you want to take back home is an assortment of souvenirs, the Iverness Street is the place to go.

 

Sleep: Ambassadors Bloomsbury

Deluxe Room at the Ambassadors Bloomsbury; London, UK

Deluxe Room at the Ambassadors Bloomsbury; London

The 100-room Ambassadors Bloomsbury is located in the historic literary heart of London, a 20-minute walk from the Camden Markets, and near the London Euston tube station, which is two stops from Camden Town. Beyond the convenient location, this hotel also offers bright rooms with crisp white linens and flat-screen TVs. Bathrooms are sleek and modern, and the stylish lobby offers free apples and filtered water. Number Twelve is the popular on-site bar and restaurant, serving three delicious meals a day along with traditional afternoon tea. This hotel offers good value for the location, especially with free Wi-Fi and a small fitness center.

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