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apartmenttherapy

Maxwell Ryan, founder of Apartment Therapy, knows a thing or two about turning up interior charm. He started out his career as an “apartment therapist,” transforming homes into beautiful, organized, and healthy-to-live-in spaces. You could say he’s a bit of a hybrid — part interior designer and part life coach. His style is about comfort, simplicity, and a lack of clutter. Today, his website has become the go-to site for design inspiration. Since our main decor interest here at Oyster.com is hotel-focused, we asked Maxwell to turn his creative eye towards hotel design. We couldn’t wait to hear of his favorite hotel spots around the globe.

See his top picks after the jump >>

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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.

Hotel Athena: Siena, Italy

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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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In our original post, we brought you from Nantucket to Kauai and everywhere in between, offering perfectly captured glimpses of our country’s most beautiful vistas. But we’d be biased if we only shared our stunning photos of the United States. So we packed our bags and headed to Europe in search of its best vantage points. Here are 13 of our favorites…

Fretheim Hotel, Norway

Norway

For travelers interested in exploring Norway’s natural wonders, there’s no better starting point than the Fretheim Hotel. Located in Flam, a popular departure point for fjord cruises, the Fretheim offers some pretty breathtaking views of its own. With its floor to ceiling windows, the Fretheim’s popular restaurant has an unobstructed view of the beautiful valley and nearby harbor.

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Newsflash! Visiting the world’s most expensive cities doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be forced to stay in the world’s most expensive hotels. Though the suite life can be tempting when hoteling in the globe’s most affluent destinations, what’s feasible for the rich and famous often doesn’t align with what’s feasible for the rest of us. Thankfully, there are fantastic budget options in pricey towns that offer a lot of bang for your buck — so you can use that extra cash towards your eight-euro bottle of water. From London to Singapore and back again, we’ve got the lowdown on hotels that won’t break your bank…in cities that threaten to do just that! Though some cities are even too rich for Oyster’s blood — we’ll get to you soon Lausanne! — here are our top picks for the best budget stays in the world’s most expensive cities.

London: Generator Hostel London
Price: $39/night

HOSTEL LONDON

The Generator Hostel represents a new type of high-end “hostelling” which puts a real emphasis on creating fun, chilled-out atmospheres conducive to interaction between guests. The Generator is one such property and is a good choice for both young solo travelers and groups, offering dorms for up to 12 people as well as private rooms (though some are cramped). The cafe, bar, and cinema room are all great spaces to relax, and the hostel’s event program is a nice touch. There are few properties with as good a central London location that also promise such a snazzy vibe on the cheap in the world’s most expensive city.

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Sweden and Norway typically conjure images a la Frozen: Stunning icescapes punctuated by the rogue reindeer or a flash of brilliance from the Northern Lights. But there is more to these Northern European countries than meets the eye — and it’s not all winter and chill. When hockey season ends and the sun comes out to play, Scandinavians flock to the coastline for summering on the shore. Whether boating along their country’s rugged oceanfront or exploring its lakes, Scandinavians embrace the warm weather with gusto. There’s also phenomenal hiking, golfing, and other athletic activities to enjoy, as well as island hopping and shopping, so Norway and Sweden are both wonderful, not to mention atypical, holiday vacations to squeeze in before the summer’s over. Check out our favorite stays and activities in Scandinavia.

1. Hotel J; Nacka, Sweden 

hotel j

This nautical-themed, boutique hotel has a secluded, out-in-the-country feel perfect for summering in Sweden – but in reality, it’s only a 10-minute drive from central Stockholm, making it convenient as well as picturesque. Though the suburban area of Nacka, one of the city’s business hubs, can be relatively quiet at night, the Hotel J has an excellent waterfront restaurant that’s often bustling. Nacka is well-regarded among sailing enthusiasts and spa-goers, making it an apt choice for a holiday. Read More »

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While a nautical theme can make for fun hotel decor all year round, we can’t help but enjoy it a little more in the summer when the timing feels particularly fitting. After all, during warmer months we love the idea of being out on the open seas, wind in our hair… until we think about how crowded and gross cruise ships can actually be. Considering the many recent mishaps on ships and boats — some of which actually proved to be quite dangerous — as of late, we’d rather enjoy a nautical theme from dry land, thank you very much. Fortunately, we’ve visited plenty of hotels that make you feel like you’re first mate — without actually having to set sail.

Amstel Botel, Amsterdam

Amstel Botel

The 175-room Amstel Botel, a former river cruiser converted to a floating hotel, sits by the industrial NDSM wharf, a growing outpost of Amsterdam’s underground art scene. The Botel is decorated like a European ferry, and is a no-frills budget-friendly option for visitors. Central Amsterdam is a 15-minute free ferry ride away. Kids may enjoy the experience of staying on a boat, but the property is more popular with value-minded couples and groups. Luxury seekers and visitors hoping for a charming European hotel should look elsewhere, but those searching for a boat-like vibe without having to leave the dock will find the nautical decor fun and charming.

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Ok, it’s time for some real talk. We here at Oyster adore Hawaii. And, of course, we love Paris – any day of the year. But as travel experts, not only do we look forward to returning to destinations that will forever stand the test of time, but we also strive to uncover lesser-known, and lesser-thought-of, destinations that will really knock our — and your — socks off. When it comes to honeymoons, we know couples look for something (and somewhere) romantic and charming, but how about – originalThere are plenty of gorgeous spots around the globe, but we love a duo that’s not afraid of going slightly off book in the pursuit of a one-of-a-kind getaway. Here we’ve selected nine dream picks for an atypical honeymoon that’s anything but ordinary — just like your love, right?

1. Flam, Norway: Fretheim Hotel

norway

The tiny village of Flam is located in a valley surrounded by steep mountains. It’s the final destination for the Flam Railway, which visitors take through the mountains to reach the village, and is considered one of the most scenic train stops in Europe. From Flam, you can also catch a cruise to the Sognefjord, which is arguably the most beautiful and famous fjord in Norway. Couples choosing this atypical getaway can also choose an aytpical hotel: The Fretheim Hotel dates back to the late 19th century, and its common spaces have charm to spare. The hotel makes the most of its unique, naturally beautiful location with soaring glass windows in the lobby and restaurant that frame the mountains. Read More »

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One of the greatest perks of traveling is the opportunity to try new foods. Even dishes that you may be familiar with are better when tasted in their land of origin (have you ever had pasta in Italy? Bellissimo!). But there’s something particularly exciting — and truly adventurous — about trying a bite of something you’ve never even heard of before. We’ve traveled the globe and have discovered some delicious delicacies… and we’ve also sampled some foods that are…well, “interesting” may be the best way to put it. Here are half a dozen of the weirdest delicacies the world over. Bon apetit!

Singapore: Fish Head Curry

fish head curry

A lot of the strangest delicacies in the world seem to involve fish and/or weird parts of animals that you didn’t even know were edible (and their edibleness is questionable to say the least). Well, fish head curry involves both fish and weird parts of it. In Singapore, fish head curry is considered a tasty, stew-like dish of veggies, rice, and — you guessed it — a fish head (generally red snapper).

Where to Stay: Hotel Fort Canning is a modern boutique in a beautifully restored historic military building. This excellent property includes luxe amenities such as three pools, an Asian bistro, a pizza bar, a cocktail lounge, and a fitness center.

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The St. James's Hotel and Club is a top choice for business travelers in London.

Europe’s bustling capital cities always attract the suit-and-tie set, and the continent’s best business hotels cater to these travelers with great service, special features, and around-the-clock amenities. Whether you’re ironing out the details of a high stakes merger or need to be connected to all four corners of the globe at once, these impressive properties are equipped to help with your every need. Sealing the deal in Europe‘s capital cities has never been easier than at these top business hotels:

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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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