Toronto

The Golden Age of Hollywood has come and gone. While Los Angeles once had a firm grip on all film-related business — movie and television alike — the industry has expanded well beyond the Hollywood Hills. In the last forty years especially, we’ve seen emerging markets in Louisiana, Toronto, and Atlanta increasingly cut into La-La Land’s share of the filming world. Where Hollywood once hosted a commanding 64 percent of the live-action films being made in the early 2000s, today that figure has dropped to around eight percent, according to a study by FilmLA. It’s a big departure from the norm — and it is only good news for people looking to get their fifteen minutes in front of the camera. We’ve rounded up the top six destinations outside of Los Angeles for aspiring actors to book their first gig, or adoring fans to potentially score some time as an extra. And we’ve included some movie star-worthy accommodations in each spot as well.

1. New York City 

nyc

This may seem like a no-brainer, but in reality NYC only became a film industry hot spot in the 1970s when prolific directors Martin Scorcese and Woody Allen shifted their films’ focus to the Big Apple. Since then, NYC has become the clear challenger to Los Angeles’ filming supremacy. Just this year, NYC officially surpassed Hollywood for the number of TV pilots filmed in town, with Vancouver, Toronto, and Atlanta slowly creeping up behind the two industry giants. This week alone HBO’s Martin Scorcese-directed drama The Long Play begins filming its pilot in the city, as do over sixty other returning network programs. USA’s White Collar, CBS’s Person of Interest, Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, and HBO’s Girls are just some of the projects currently in play across the five boroughs. Plus, NYC has one thing Los Angeles doesn’t when it comes to acting: the Great White Way. For actors looking to pursue a career on stage, there is nowhere else to be but Broadway. Daniel Radcliffe and Neil Patrick Harris are both currently headlining shows, and Breaking Bad’s Brian Cranston just wrapped All the Way, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Play.

Stay: Mercer Hotel

The Mercer‘s 75 loft-style guest rooms, beautiful staff, personalized service and swanky SoHo location make it a go-to choice for celebrities and other fashionable members of the entertainment industry — from Leonardo DiCaprio, to fashion designer Calvin Klein, to oddball rock star Marilyn Manson, to Russell Crowe (who made headlines in 2005 for allegedly throwing a telephone at a Mercer check-in clerk). If you want to stay in a movie star-approved hotel, you can’t do much better. 

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Summer is a time for celebration, family bonding, and — most importantly, in our book — travel. But when vacation extravaganzas to far-flung islands and ancient cities don’t fit into the budget, the answer is not to skip vacation: it’s to nearcation! (Yes, we just made a new word. And we think it’s kinda awesome.) Avoid the cost of flights, currency exchange, and pricey destinations for some spectacular cities that are just a short drive from major U.S. cities — we know where you live… So without further adieu, check out five nearcation destinations that won’t break the bank, but will be just the amazing vacation break that you need!

Atlantic City 

Driving Time from New York City: 2 hours, 25 minutes

Atlantic City

When most people think of Atlantic City, they think gambling, and casinos galore. While that’s certainly a major part of the destination, Atlantic City is also an excellent choice for a wallet-friendly summer vacation that doesn’t have to include time spent at the tables. In fact, this sparkling seaside city offers one of the East Coast’s most impressive lineups of comedy shows, concerts, festivals ,and events, and then piles on plenty of outdoor attractions: sandy beaches, a festive boardwalk (don’t miss the saltwater taffy!), New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse, an aquarium, ballet, sport fishing, golf, museums, trolley tours, surfing and a lot, lot more. (Bonus: Check out our non-gamer’s guide to Atlantic City.)

Where to Stay: It’s easy to score a great deal at one of Atlantic City’s casino hotels, but our value pick goes to the Resorts Casino Hotel Atlantic City. Decked out in Roaring Twenties-themed decor and just steps from the boardwalk, this hotel in an extremely affordable option.

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Whether its to kickstart a relationship, revive a relationship, or simply maintain a relationship, couples (of all ages.. and degrees of commitment) will often plan a romantic getaway — or two or three — at some point throughout their courtship. While relaxing on a beach somewhere may be all some couples need to reconnect, others look for a little something extra to spice up their vacation. That’s where these nine naughty hotels come in. From Paris to Vegas, from the Riviera Maya to Long Island City (yes, we said it — and we’re being serious), these nine hotels have their own special way of creating an unforgettable getaway for couples who aren’t afraid of a little nudity — and welcome a little naughtiness.

Palms Casino Resort

1. The Erotic Suite: The Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas

Vegas isn’t called “Sin City” for nothing; couples escape to this town of debauchery to party, let loose, and make use of the whole “What happens in Vegas…” mantra. Soon, the tagline may become “What happens in the Erotic Suite at The Palms.” One of the wildest hotels in Vegas, even with its off-the-Strip location, this hotel features a plethora of themed luxury suites, and the Erotic Suite is certainly the naughtiest. Kinky couple-friendly amenities include everything from a “show shower” with a stripper pole and nightclub-esque lighting, to a rotating bed underneath a mirrored ceiling. There’s also plenty of erotic artwork to spare.

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Legado Mitico is a charming, 11-room boutique in bustling Buenos AIres.

Finding a quiet boutique in a big city might seem like a challenge, but in reality, some of our most intimate stays are tucked into the corners of the world’s largest metropolises. Offering personalized service and charming details, these petite hotels – most have less than 20 rooms –  are some of our favorites. So if mega-metropolises such as Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles might intimidate you, fear not. You can always retreat to these intimate boutiques for some quiet time amidst the bustle of the big city.

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Awards season continues this Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles as the biggest names in the music industry strut their stuff at the 55th Grammy Awards. And as we dream about jamming on stage with the likes of  Elton John, The Lumineers, Jack White, and Justin Timberlake (who’s making his return to the Grammy stage after a four-year hiatus from the music scene, swoon), we can’t help but be a little jealous of those who get to do so. Thankfully, some of our favorite hotels understand our musical plight. From on-site recording studios to guitar rental services, these hotels may not promise celeb-studded jam sessions but they’re definitely rocker-approved. And we mean that literally: Everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Stevie Wonder has visited these music meccas of the hotel world. So if you want to drop a beat before the awards or just pick up the vibes left behind by some of your favorite musicians, check out these rock-ready hotels.

Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas, Los Angeles 

The Nightbird Sound Studio at the Sunset Marquis has hosted A-list recording artists for decades.

The Sunset Marquis cost guests just $8 a night when it first opened in 1963 as a motel for musicians playing at the nearby House of Blues, Roxy, and Viper Room, all located within a few minutes’ walk. Today, there are so many celebrities that continue to traipse through the hotel that the staff doesn’t get starstruck anymore. During Oyster’s two-night stay, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Joss Stone, and Roger Daltrey of The Who were all spotted at the hotel, validating the hotel’s “paparazzi diversion tactics” that are offered for a nominal fee.

In addition to its innate rocker vibe, the hotel also offers a state-of-the-art recording studio on-site — Nightbird Sound Studios — designed by renowned acoustician George Auspurger. Accessed via a hidden entrance in the underground garage, the space features (in addition to the usual trappings) a Yamaha Mark IV Disklavier piano, one of only two in America, on which Stevie Wonder has been recorded. Every A-list musician has passed through the studio, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Justin Timberlake, and Lil Wayne and Green Day both recorded here within days of Oyster’s visit. High rollers can rent out the studio for personal use, including karaoke birthday parties.

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Have you been waiting patiently for your favorite hotel to get Oyster’d? We understand, we do. And we’re trotting the globe as fast as we possibly can to bring you more destinations and hotels every day. We investigate every single hotel in person, and that takes time, but we think the results are worth it. Take a look at our newest additions from California, Amsterdam, New Orleans, and Toronto!

Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam

Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam

Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam

The Conservatorium Hotel delivers a true five-pearl experience in Amsterdam’s residential Museum Quarter. It’s housed in a 100-year-old former bank building, and the hotel’s warm, modern design melds seamlessly with the structure; the stunning atrium lobby, for example, is industrial-chic, featuring wood, brick, and glass. The rooms are decorated in earthy neutrals and every detail was considered, from the placement of the electrical outlets to the reading lights by the bed to the high-tech controls for the lighting and blinds; some rooms have duplex layouts and exposed structural beams. Bathrooms are gorgeous, with rainfall showerheads, stone tile, LCD mirror TVs and micro cotton towels. The big, modern fitness center, stylish indoor pool, and lovely spa, all located below ground, are highlights. It’s a premier choice for luxury travelers looking to trade a central location for added space and quiet.

 

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Hotel minibars have a bit of a naughty reputation. After all, they tempt and tease world-weary travelers with salty-sweet goodness at all hours of the day, and then come with a double-digit price tag to boot! But sometimes, the items up for grabs can at least provide guests with a moment of amusement. Some hotels feature rather surprising minibar offerings — we’re talking walking sticks and 24-karat gold vibrators. It’s enough to make guests pause in their perusal of the candy selection and say, “Wait, what?” We’ve come across some of the wackiest minibar items during our travels; here are some of our favorites:

Alexander Wang-Designed Condoms at the Thompson Beverly Hills 

Get your groove on at the Thompson Beverly Hills.

At the flashy Thompson Beverly Hills, spending the night with that special someone just got more fashionable. Designer Alexander Wang created special packaging for PROPER ATTIRE condoms, which are for sale at all Thomspon properties, as well as on the brand’s website. Couples pay $5.99 for a pack of three assorted (which include extra large, ultra-thin, and studded — oh my!) and proceeds benefit Planned Parenthood.  Read More »

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Are you on Santa’s Naughty or Nice list this year? We’ve seen a lot of good and bad behaviors during our travels over the last year — and maybe dabbled in both as well! So we know every dirty little secret, or shiny gold star, that you’ve been part-and-parcel to on vacation. But if you’re not sure where you stand in Santa’s twinkling eyes, we’re here to help. You can find out whether your favorite hotel amenities will get your stockings stuffed full of goodies or weighed down by coal this holiday season with our quiz. So check out which list you’re on!

The Naughty List: 

1. Have you stripped down?

Clothing optional resorts like the Desire Riviera Maya can see some X-rated action.

For some travelers, itsy bitsy bikinis or revealing Speedos just don’t cut it — a vacation isn’t a vacation without a little nudity. Luckily for them, some hotels are redefining casual dress with policies that let guests bare it all (or almost all), like the couples-only, clothing-optional Desire Resort & Spa Riviera Maya. A little voyeurism never hurt anyone — but don’t be surprised if your nude antics land you on the naughty list this winter.

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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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Hotels are notorious for placing ridiculous price hikes on minibar offerings. That bag of chips that looks so good after a long plane ride becomes a lot less appealing when it comes with a $9 price tag. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From sex toy collections to custom chocolates, hotel minibars are becoming more and more exorbitant every day. Here’s a list of some of the priciest minibar offerings in hotel history. Prepare yourself for some serious sticker-shock!

$400 Pleasure Pack at The Drake Hotel, Toronto

And with peek-a-boo showers, do you really need that $400 pleasure pack?

This funky boutique hotel in Toronto’s newly gentrified Art and Design District is full of unique, modern elements that attract a hip crowd — as does the hot nightclub on-site. But even these riotous visitors might balk at the $400 price tag on one of the hotel’s in-room pleasure packages. The Lap of Luxury set includes a black silk scarf and a 24-karat-gold waterproof vibrator for some serious (and seriously luxurious) sexy time. Batteries are included, so that’s something.

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