Toronto

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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The Rooftop Lounge is one of the nightlife hot spots in the Art and Design District.

The Rooftop Lounge is one of the nightlife hot spots in the Art and Design District.

The Thompson Toronto is every bit as hip as its sister properties stateside. With a hopping rooftop bar boasting some of the most striking views in this part of town, and renowned dining at Scarpetta, the hotel is a local party destination in the heart of the trendy Art and Design District. Rooms are sleek, with floor-to-ceiling windows, mod furniture, and sumptuous beds with custom-made Sferra sheets. The white marble bathrooms are no less dazzling, with rainforest showerheads, Tocca toiletries and heated floors. One of the hotel’s most unique features, however, is its sleek infinity rooftop pool, which has a chic deck with expansive vistas. For those who want to keep up with their work-out routine during their trip, the hotel offers a large, bright fitness center with modern equipment, and a yoga studio with a wide array of classes. See more incredible photos after the jump or read our full review now.

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If you and your partner are planning a quick family escape before the holiday rush, — or are thinking ahead (kudos!) for outings between next year’s school breaks – we’ve come up with four great vacation ideas to offer you a little inspiration. Whether your family wants fun in the sun, a bit of culture, or just a change of scenery, we’ve found the best LGBT family getaways for all types. And as with any good family-friendly destination, these trips have a little something extra for parents to enjoy after the kiddies have gone to bed.

In Search Of: Culture

Destination: Toronto

The "New York up North," Toronto has plenty of cultural sights

 Tagged as “New York run by the Swiss,” Toronto is a massive (and clean!) cultural hub, with a reputation for being both family- and gay-friendly. Canada’s biggest city also has world-renowned restaurants, shopping, and theaters, with quick and easy transportation to take you there. The Fairmont Royal York is one of the Toronto’s premier hotels with its elegant, old world charm, and a prime location blocks from the shopping and attractions of Yonge Street. After a day of sight-seeing on Yonge or in the nearby Entertainment District, parents can cozy up for an intimate evening at the Library Bar, or one of the hotel’s award-winning restaurants, such as the locally-focused Epic. Read More »

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Prost! Oktoberfest attendees cheers in Munich. Credit: Nikada/iStockPhoto

Sixteen days, over five million people, and — most importantly – seven million liters of beer: That’s Oktoberfest in Munich. What began as a wedding celebration in 1810 [Ed. note: Sounds like a fun wedding!] has grown into the world’s largest fair, attracting locals and tourists to the Bavarian city every September and October to down tasty traditional treats followed by long swigs of brew. Sound amazing? Yea, it’s pretty hard to beat. But nonetheless, it has inspired copycats all over the world, and they’re doing a pretty darn good job at keeping up. From Santiago to Hong Kong, Bavarian aficionados have hosted their own Oktoberfests for years: Some are traditional, some not so much, but they all harken back to their Munich origins in one way or another. So if you can’t make it to Germany this year, don’t fret. We have the scoop on the most wunderbar Oktoberfests across the globe — and the best hotels for sleeping off those delicious Bavarian brews. Prost! Read More »

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