Here at Oyster, we can never get enough of bright lights, big cities, and the continuous buzz and hum of modern metropolis life. There’s just something about the energy in the air that we find exhilarating. But that doesn’t mean we don’t take a moment every once in a while to step back in time. And at times like these, we don’t just want to soak up history – we want to live it. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than waking up in a 13th-century building and imagining how many people have woken up, celebrated, or walked the halls of the very same place — and it doesn’t hurt to get to imagine it while still enjoy modern conveniences like air-conditioning and Wi-Fi. And if you don’t want to stay in a crumbling piece of history, you don’t have to — and you can still get a taste of history. There are tons of preserved medieval towns and villages that have newer– even sleek and modern — hotels. So if you want to get medieval on your vacation (in a historic kind of way, not an urban dictionary kind of way), we’ve got just the right spots to do it. Here are our top ten picks for hotels in ancient towns.
Inside the historic walls of Siena, the 100-room Hotel Athena is a classic, upscale property within walking distance of several restaurants and historic sites, including the Siena Cathedral and Biblioteca Piccolomini. Piazza del Campo, Siena’s main square and the site of the famous haven’t-changed-much-since-the-middle-ages Palio horse races, can be reached within 10 minutes by foot. The hotel’s rooftop terrace overlooks the historic buildings of the area and has a bar serving cocktails and snacks. There is a free breakfast buffet with hot and cold items and an elegant restaurant serving regional cuisine. There’s no pool or fitness center at the hotel, but rooms are simple and clean and have free Wi-Fi.
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Step inside… The 32-room Hotel MC San Jose is a chic boutique (NEW on Oyster) with stylish details and plenty of friendly warmth and personality from the small staff. A pretty selection of cacti, palms, and shrubs makes the entrance to the hotel even more inviting, and it backs onto a cheerful garden, full of greenery, trees, and blossoming flowers. The interior is cheerful, too. Shiny tile floors, comfy white couches, and funky lighting make for a pleasant lobby. Thoughtful details include unique sculptures, colorful modern art on the walls, potted plants, and magazines and brochures to peruse. Glass doors let in ample sunlight. It’s located a five-minute walk to a beautiful beach, restaurants, and shops in a picturesque coastal town. Simple, elegant, mostly all-white rooms (some are more stylish than others) include free Wi-Fi and free mineral water, and some have gorgeous ocean views. There’s a small but lovely outdoor pool, a spa with a sauna, a pretty relaxation terrace, and a garden.
Click through the jump to see even more beautiful pics of what makes a truly unique (and affordable) boutique on the Spain’s Mediterranean coast >>
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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 »
There’s something so cozy about watching a movie, both solo and with a crew. If you don’t want to hole up in your room with pay-per-view while on vacation, there are many hotels where you can still catch a flick without leaving the property. Some hotels offer movie nights for their guests – whether it’s curled up on a comfy couch indoors or outside lounging by the pool — giving vacationers a chance to unwind in front of a big screen. Many are geared toward little ones so that parents can enjoy some alone time, while others are a chance for travelers to meet and participate in activities together. No matter if you’re away on business or having a family vacation, grab some popcorn, sit back, relax, and watch the show. We definitely give the following 10 hotels two thumbs up!
The Bitter End Yacht Club, snuggled into a steep hill on the scenic North Sound, is a relaxed, family-friendly resort. The tech-free rooms (no TVs or Wi-Fi here) feature stunning views from the balconies, and the sliding doors allows breezes to sweep through; some rooms do not have air-conditioning but most guests find they don’t miss it. While some rooms could use renovations, guests are here for the white-sand beaches that offer plenty of water sports and relatively calm waters. Although popular among couples, the hotel also caters toward families; each night two movies are screened at The Sand Palace, next to the lobby. The movies are all rated G, PG, or PG-13 and popcorn is provided. Adults may want to send their kids to watch the movie while they enjoy a meal at the Clubhouse Grille next door.
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Forget no-frills lodging; today’s new brand of hostels offers cool decor and plenty of perks. Sounds too good to be true? Well, we’ve got the scoop on hostels that pack a wow factor with upscale amenities, contemporary comforts, prime locations, and good food. Plus, with fun social scenes and affordable rates, they have all the ingredients for a pleasant stay without breaking the bank. Join us as we step into the (little-known) world of modern hostels.
Within walking distance of Central Park and numerous subway lines, Hostelling International in New York City offers an affordable stay on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. This well-run property has both private and shared rooms, free Wi-Fi, a theater room, game room, café, several lounges and a private patio/garden. To keep guests (mostly in their 20s and 30s) entertained, the hostel organizes daily events like city tours, pub crawls, and in-house comedy shows.
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Plenty of people visit UNESCO World Heritage sites on vacation. Not too many get the experience of actually sleeping in one. But that’s exactly what Parador de Granada in Spain offers its guests: This former Moorish Palace is actually within the walls of La Alhambra, the famed medieval palace and fortress that has influenced countless works of art and literature. (Among them: Washington Irving’s Tales of Alhambra.) This upscale boutique hotel also once operated as a Franciscan convent, and today, it has elegant, contemporary rooms and a traditional restaurant that’s known for having hosted First Lady Michelle Obama. The serene gardens offer stunning views of Generalife, La Alhambra’s beautiful 13th-century royal palace. See more amazing pics after the jump >>
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So Spain’s Costa del Sol is pretty renowned (and justly so), but it doesn’t get quite as much international love as the French Riviera or Amalfi Coast. We’re not quite sure why, because it’s pretty friggin’ gorgeous, and hotels here are a fraction of the price of those in more famous Mediterranean beach destinations. If whitewashed buildings in charming Andalusian seaside towns sounds like your kind of thing, you’ll probably dig these seven hotels. It doesn’t hurt that the views are postcard-perfect….
The Hotel Balcon de Europa is one of many four-pearl luxury hotel choices on the Málaga coast, but what sets this 108-room property apart is its prime location on the beach in the center of tourist-friendly Nerja. There’s definitely an adult vibe here thanks to the rooftop swimming pool, spa facilities, and a romantic restaurant with views of the beach through floor-to-ceiling windows. Read More »
Just in time for the Spanish party town’s hottest season, Hard Rock International opened Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza yesterday after years of construction. The luxury hotel is the company’s first property in Europe, and brings the brand’s musically-inclined amenities to Spain, with signature Hard Rock features such as in-room guitar deliveries and curated playlists. On June 13, the 493-room hotel’s official opening party will also pay homage to the brand’s — and the beach destination’s — love of music with hot DJs and bands, and a late-night end time. Revelers are sure to continue the party on the sand, conveniently right outside Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza’s doors. We can’t wait to get over to the Spanish island, but in the meantime we’re enjoying “revisiting” the Hard Rock properties we have rested our heads in — from Las Vegas to Punta Cana to Orlando to Singapore to Chicago to Cancun to San Diego to Riviera Nayarit to Albuquerque. [Hard Rock Hotel]