Meet the Oyster Hotel Investigators
Our expert hotel investigators visit every hotel in person and take hundreds of photographs so that you can see the hotel exactly as they did. They write all the reviews, too. To get to know the people who reviewed Oyster's hotels, check out the brief bios below.
Being half-Basque, Anne spent several summers and winter breaks in Europe. She sunned in San Sebastian, cheered her bull-running cousins from a balcony in Pamplona, and, as a teen, went tapas bar-hopping with them in their ancestral village of Algorta. Today, she lives in (and adores) New Orleans. She tries to be an entertaining host, so when in the French Quarter she steps up the fashion and directs visitors to a good cocktail. She counts on that same friendly karma whenever she's in a new place.
- Hotels Reviewed: 14
- Destination Expert for: New Orleans
- Hometown: Fairfax, Va.
- Places Lived: Washington, D.C.; Virginia Beach, Va.; Jacksonville, N.C.; New Orleans, La.
- Education: B.A. in Economics and M.A. in American History, George Mason University
- Prior Experience: Published in Random House's "Operation Homecoming" anthology and in Edible New Orleans. Contributes to: Care.com, New Orleans CityBusiness, Where Y'at, New Orleans Living. Award-winning journalist and newspaper editor.
- My Favorite Hotel: Gran Hotel Domine in Bilbao. With its sleek, cheeky design, the Domine takes its cue from the spectacular Guggenheim Museum across the street. Take breakfast on the hotel terrace and then explore Bilbao on foot - in one day, I toured a 1920s-era mercado, found the theater where my grandfather first noticed my actress grandmother, and took in an outdoor game of pelota.
Born and raised in Seattle, Briana caught the travel bug in Nepal and India at age 16, and hasn't lost it since. She taught in Prague and Iceland after graduating, and celebrated her return to the States with a six-week road trip. She camped in canyons, surfed in South Carolina, and visited Dollywood, among other things. When she joined Oyster, she had to express mail her passport to the State Department for some extra pages. She also likes to run, eat, drink, and cook, and is Oyster's resident baker when not on the road.
- Hotels Reviewed: 76
- Destination Expert for: Jamaica, Dominican Republic
- Hometown: Seattle, Washington
- Places Lived: Seattle; Paris; Rabat, Morocco; Prague, Czech Republic; Reykjavik and Holar, Iceland; Panama; Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Education: B.A. in comparative history of ideas and B.A. in international studies with a focus on the Middle East, University of Washington
- Prior Experience: Akcent International House, Blackbird, Advanced Style
- My Favorite Hotel: Jake's, in Jamaica -- it's a little off the beaten path but totally worth the long drive. It's charming, romantic, and beautiful, and you feel like part of the family when you're a guest. The best part is that it isn't insanely expensive, so I could go back myself and enjoy a long weekend without breaking the bank.
Before joining Oyster, Christine worked as an editor and writer for travel mags and newspapers, did time as a singing waitress on cruise ships, slaughtered chickens and turkeys on an organic farm, and acted in stage plays directed by pros from the Royal Shakespeare Company and Globe Theatre in the U.K. When not reporting in the field, she is based in Brooklyn and the Catskills with her Red-Sox-loving husband and big-boned cat. Christine endorses swimming holes, early Kinks, and vinho verde.
- Hotels Reviewed: 15
- Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland
- Places Lived: New York; London; Rome; Quito, Ecuador; Silver Spring, Md.; Cape May, N.J.
- Education: B.A. in English literature, Fordham University; M.A. in classical acting, Central School of Speech and Drama, London
- Prior Experience: Editor, Town & Country; Time Out New York; Travel Holiday; travelandleisure.com; indagare.com. Work has appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, Brides, Time Out New York Kids, Paper, Wild Blue Yonder, and USA Today.
- My Favorite Hotel: Shore Club in South Beach. Walking from the beach or pool into one of these chic rooms feels like slathering Noxema on sunburned skin -- cooling, calming, and tingly. Plus, once, I checked in with a newly broken nose (long story) and the staff kindly pretended not to notice.
When Corina isn't ordering up poolside mojitos in Las Vegas, she can be found in her infinitely more glamorous Brooklyn environs, splayed out on the couch watching choice cuts from Paradise Hotel II and her Janet Jackson video collection. Corina grew up in southeast Texas, and always wanted to look less doofy in a cowboy hat. It's a special skill.
- Hotels Reviewed: 54
- Destination Expert for: Las Vegas, Dominican Republic, New York
- Hometown: Orange, Texas
- Places Lived: Orange, Texas; Beaumont, Texas (right next to Orange); Philadelphia
- Education: B.A. in international relations, University of Pennsylvania
- Prior Experience: Village Voice, VH1, Money Magazine. Contributed to: MTV.com, NYMag.com, Time Out New York, Dazed and Confused.
- My Favorite Hotel: Viva Wyndham Dominicus Beach, in the Dominican Republic -- for the white canopy beds on the shore.
Dipayan is a Canadian in American clothing. Born in New Delhi, he spent his childhood following his parents around the world till he settled down on the East Coast for college and grad school. Dipayan speaks English, French, and Hindi, and imitates accents with varying degrees of success. He is also working on a (hopefully) forthcoming children's book on immigration.
- Hotels Reviewed: 61
- Destination Expert for: New York, Dominican Republic, Miami
- Hometown: New Delhi; Toronto
- Places Lived: Amherst, Mass.; New York; New Delhi; Toronto; London; Paris
- Education: B.A. in political science, Amherst College; Sciences Po, Paris; M.A. in journalism, New York University
- Prior Experience: BBC World Service Trust, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, CNN IBN, Salon.com, the Huffington Post
- My Favorite Hotel: Mondrian South Beach. Off the beaten path, this quirky masterpiece is calm and quiet, with impeccable service and truly awesome bedrooms.
Gregory grew up in a town outside of Rochester, N.Y, along the Erie Canal. He likes to read and write fiction, humor and book reviews, and is fond of early jazz and collegiate woolen neckties. He rescued his cat, Franklin, from an East Harlem shelter, where he was scheduled to be put to death. The cat's crimes are not known.
- Hotels Reviewed: 16
- Hometown: Pittsford, N.Y.
- Places Lived: New York; Ithaca, N.Y.
- Education: B.A. in English and creative writing, Colgate University; M.A. in journalism, Columbia University
- Prior Experience: The New York Times (City Section and Book Review), Los Angeles Times, Columbia Journalism Review, The Forward, McSweeney's, Saveur magazine.
- My Favorite Hotel: Library Hotel: It's classy, quirky and close to the real New York Public library.
Hailey has been strangely obsessed with hotel toiletries from a tender young age. She loves to travel and prefers hotels without televisions. If there is a television, it had better get Bravo. In previous lives, she taught Austrian teens English through the MTV-reference method and made pretty things in Hollywood. Most recently, she was an editor at Radar magazine until its untimely demise and blogged for the Village Voice about food and booze. Someday, she hopes to raise a French bulldog.
- Hotels Reviewed: 54
- Destination Expert for: New York
- Hometown: Northern California
- Places Lived: Chicago; Linz, Austria; Berlin; Prague, Czech Republic; Los Angeles; New York
- Education: B.S. in radio, TV, and film, Northwestern University; M.A. in journalism, cultural reporting, and criticism, New York University
- Prior Experience: Radar, the Village Voice, Lionsgate Films. Work has appeared in the Daily Beast, NYmag.com, the Brooklyn Rail, Blender, men.style.com, Reelz Channel, and Culture 11.
- My Favorite Hotel: Fisher Island Hotel, Miami -- I love anywhere your room comes with its own golf cart.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Janine moved to New York in 2006 to attend grad school. Prior to moving halfway around the world, she worked as a travel writer in Asia, where she wrote for numerous magazines and even published a travel guide to her home island of Cebu. In May 2008, she completed an MFA in Creative Writing, with a focus in nonfiction. An avid diver, she has swum with whale sharks and giant sea turtles, and as a general rule, she loves all ridiculous creatures -- especially dachshunds.
- Hotels Reviewed: 53
- Destination Expert for: New York, Las Vegas
- Hometown: Cebu, Philippines
- Places Lived: Manila, Philippines; New York
- Education: B.A. in communication, Ateneo de Manila University; M.F.A. in creative writing, the New School
- Prior Experience: ForbesTraveler.com, FamilyTravelForum.com, Tara! Cebu travel guide, What's On & Expat, What's On: The Philippine Guide. Contributed to: Mabuhay, Pilmap Travel & Leisure, the Philippine Star, SEAir In Flight.
- My Favorite Hotel: Hotel Roger Williams, New York. This stylish hotel has everything you'd want out of a boutique hotel in New York: quirky, modern room design, exceptionally doting service and inexpensive, delicious food. It's located in quiet (boring) Murray Hill, but has easy access to all the tourist hotspots.
Jennifer has already amassed more useless tchotchkes than most travelers could hope to obtain in an entire lifetime. This is in part due to her love of markets, where she can often be found snapping colorful photos and blowing too much money on things she doesn't need (fav markets include Mahane Yehudah in Jerusalem, Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and Portobello Road markets in London). When not buying useless junk, Jennifer can be found watching the Food Network, dining at restaurants she can't afford, and trying to find the best bottles of wine under $12.
- Hotels Reviewed: 23
- Destination Expert for: New York City, Las Vegas
- Hometown: Merrick, New York
- Places lived: Great Neck, Merrick, and New York, N.Y.; Hanover, N.H., Prague, Czech Republic
- Education: B.A. in psychology and B.A. in geography, Dartmouth College
- Prior Experience: mediabistro.com, The Dartmouth. Contributed to: Time Out New York, Conde Nast Traveler, Psychology Today, Park Place magazine.
- Favorite Hotel: Andaz Wall Street, in New York. The design is clean and modern, the bar whips up delicious cocktails, and the bathrooms are downright sexy -- this is not your average downtown hotel. Plus there are freebies galore, from lobby snacks, to made-to-order barista coffee, to everything non-alcoholic in your minibar.
Jessica is a left-handed, native New Yorker. She is the person who constantly gets stopped on the street by strangers for directions or to have their photo taken, which makes her an ideal reporter for Oyster.com. She once slept in a couchette on a train going from Paris to Madrid with three Spanish nuns, and another time she slept on the floor of a castle in Bavaria. She enjoys learning random information about places she visits. (For example, did you know the largest gentleman's club in Las Vegas -- Sapphire -- employs 6,000 women?) She's never met a spa she didn't like.
- Hotels Reviewed: 51
- Destination Expert for: Las Vegas, New York
- Hometown: New York
- Places Lived: Albany, N.Y., Brooklyn, N.Y.; New York; Oxford, England
- Education: B.A. in English, SUNY Albany; M.A. in journalism, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
- Prior Experience: Henry Holt, Riverhead Books, and Workman Publishing. Work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Time Out New York, New York Press, City Limits, the Brooklyn Paper, BUST magazine, Poets & Writers, the Forward, Heeb, and Nextbook, among others.
Before coming to Oyster, John was a newswriter at ABC Radio. In his free time he likes gardening and taking pictures, often of his garden. On the road he finds immense joy driving rented vehicles. He enjoys hotels, and if he were a bit more eccentric and wealthy, he might even live in one. John has never been to the Burning Man Festival.
- Hotels Reviewed: 45
- Destination Expert for: Las Vegas, Dominican Republic, New York
- Hometown: Essex, Mass.
- Places Lived: Essex, Mass.; Boulder, Colo.; San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Education: B.A., University of Colorado at Boulder; M.J., University of California, Berkeley
- Prior Experience: San Luis Obispo New Times, Business Week, ABC Radio
- My Favorite Hotel: Tortuga Bay, in the Dominican Republic. Tortuga's natural beauty is stunning, and the service is flawless. When I was finished eating dinner, my waiter brought me a Cohiba cigar. Then there's the "VIP Whisking Service," where guests basically get to cut the long lines at the airport and go right to a VIP lounge. Plus, I had my own golf cart to use during my stay.
Travel highlights of Kate's life include train tripping around Europe while studying abroad, and driving cross-country to grad school in another foreign country, the People's Republic of Berkeley, where she molded impressionable freshman minds as an instructor in the university's political science department. Kate is a diehard Boston Red Sox fan, and is inexplicably obsessed with reggae music. She's currently based in Australia, slowly learning the finer points of cricket and eating lots of Thai food.
- Hotels Reviewed: 64
- Destination Expert for: Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Bahamas
- Hometown: Hingham, Mass.
- Places Lived: Boston; Ithaca, N.Y.; Edinburgh, Scotland; Oakland, Calif.; New York; Sydney, Australia
- Education: B.A. in history and American studies, Cornell University; M.J., University of California, Berkeley
- Prior Experience: Sports Illustrated, Forbes, ESPN Books. Contributed to: the San Francisco Chronicle.
- My Favorite Hotel: Half Moon, Jamaica. It has the friendliest, most caring staff, a gorgeous property, and great food. Luxurious but authentically Jamaican and totally charming.
Kelsey spent six months traveling all over Italy, Greece, and Turkey and stayed in dozens of hotels that ranged from mediocre to astonishingly bad. Memorable experiences included getting robbed by a Gypsy child in Rome, riding a donkey in pouring rain in Santorini, and getting scrubbed down at the Cemberlitas hamam in Istanbul. Besides traveling and writing, she likes good restaurants, her family, historical thrillers, and online TV.
- Hotels Reviewed: 30
- Destination Expert for: New York City, Las Vegas
- Hometown: Folsom, Calif.
- Places lived: Folsom, Calif.; Palo Alto, Calif.; Cameron Park, Calif.; Leysin, Switzerland; Hanover, N.H.; Italy; Greece; Turkey; New York, NY
- Education: B.A. in English and B.A. in classical studies, Dartmouth College
- Prior Experience: Beet.TV, The Dartmouth. Contributed to: Conde Nast Traveler, Silicon Alley Insider, the Los Angeles Times, Vibe Vixen.com, Life Newspapers.
- My Favorite Hotel: The Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, for its phenomenal bathrooms and doting service.
Lauren G. has a pronounced affinity for Finno-Ugrian culture, bizarre sea creatures, and cheese, none of which factored heavily in her conventional Midwestern upbringing in Indiana. When not committing Gilmore Girls dialogue to memory, she can be found consuming food porn, dancing to early '90s house, karaoke-ing to early '90s R&B, having philosophical discussions with her cat, Pippi Longstocking, and imbibing fizzy beverages. Simultaneously.
- Hotels Reviewed: 16
- Hometown: South Bend, Ind.
- Places Lived: South Bend, Ind.; Interlochen, Mich.; Bronxville, N.Y.; Boulder, Colo.; Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Education: B.A. in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College
- Prior Experience: Rolling Stone, RollingStone.com, Television Without Pity; Contributed to: Spin, The Village Voice, The Frisky, Nerve, USA Weekend.
- My Favorite Hotel: The Bowery Hotel, for emaciated celebutante watching
Before joining Oyster, Mike was a financial services reporter for TheStreet.com. He has also worked as a bartender at Meconi's Tacoma Pub and Eatery in Tacoma, Wash., managing editor of three quarterly journals at Heldref Publications, and an intern at National Public Radio. He graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in French and English.
- Hotels Reviewed: 55
- Destination Expert for: New York, Miami, Las Vegas
- Hometown: Milwaukee, Wis.
- Places Lived: Cincinnati; Hanover, N.H.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Washington, D.C.; Dakar, Senegal; Paris; Bethany Beach, Del.; Tacoma, Wash.; Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Education: : B.A. in English and B.A. in French, Georgetown University
- Prior Experience: TheStreet.com, Meconi's Tacoma Pub and Eatery, Heldref Publications, National Public Radio
- My Favorite Hotel: The Lucerne, New York. The Lucerne's neoclassical décor suits my traditionalist taste, and the staff was both helpful and unpretentious. Add that the Upper West Side is an underrated neighborhood for travelers, and you've got a great New York boutique that stands out, especially against competitors that rely too heavily on goofy modernism.
Michael has visited more than 25 countries on four continents, including one formerly totalitarian state (Uganda), one currently totalitarian state (Belarus), and one possibly future totalitarian state (Thailand, where he lived and worked for a year). Over the past five years, Michael has become a ranked chess player, played enough Rock Band to conquer guitar on the expert level, and found a job that puts him on the road half the year. Shockingly, Michael is also still single.
- Hotels Reviewed: 65
- Destination Expert for: New York, Miami
- Hometown: Los Altos, Calif.
- Places Lived: Los Altos, Calif.; Durham, N.C.; Glasgow, Scotland; Los Angeles; Washington; Oxnard, Calif.; Burlingame, Calif.; Bangkok, Thailand; Mount Vernon, N.Y.
- Education: B.A. in public policy, Duke University; M.F.A. in creative writing, Sarah Lawrence College
- Prior Experience: American Institutes for Research; the Princeton Review; Lumina literary journal. Contributed to: SN Review and Defenestration.
- My Favorite Hotel: The Regent Bal Harbour, outside Miami. Because the bathroom has not one, not two, but three completely gratuitous amenities: mechanical blinds, a bidet, and a flat-screen TV embedded in the mirror. (My apartment only has a bidet and a TV in the mirror.)
Patrick wishes plate tectonics would shift both New Orleans and his home state of Montana to within two hours of his New York apartment. He's the author of the Complete Idiot's Guide to the American Presidents, appears in the new Mr. Beller's Neighborhood anthology Lost and Found: Stories From New York, and frequently contributes to the Huffington Post comedy page 23/6. A former car reviewer, Patrick once learned to drive a Bentley on a frozen Swedish lake, if anyone needs advice on that utterly impractical skill.
- Hotels Reviewed: 14
- Hometown: Billings, Montana
- Places Lived: Fairbanks, Alaska; Milwaukee, Wis.; The Bronx, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Wyndham, N.H.; Boston; Newark, Del.; Los Angeles; New York
- Education: B.A. in Communications & Rhetorical Studies, Marquette University; Masters in Professional Writing, University of Southern California
- Prior Experience: Contributing editor Inc., senior editor TheDailyTube.com. Contributed to: ESPN.com, Fast Company, Details, Popular Science, Success, TimeOut New York and Smith Magazine's "Six-Word Memoir" collections.
- My Favorite Hotel: Natura Cabanas in Dominican Republic. Isolated, quiet, eco-friendly and health-conscious, the polar opposite of day-to-day living in New York City.
Paul was born in Seattle, grew up in Missouri, studied in upstate New York and ended up in Manhattan. Before landing at Oyster, he spent eight months exploring the wilds of South America, and before that he tramped through most of Italy. His friends -- and his parents -- are in no way surprised that his job involves staying in lots of hotels.
- Hotels Reviewed: 23
- Hometown: Jefferson City, Mo.
- Places Lived: Seattle; Jefferson City, Mo.; Rochester, N.Y.; Arezzo, Italy; Syracuse, N.Y.; New York; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Punta del Diablo, Uruguay
- Education: B.A. in Italian Studies, University of Rochester; M.A. in Magazine Journalism, Syracuse University
- Prior Experience: Jaunted.com, HotelChatter.com, Diversion magazine, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, The Syracuse Post-Standard
- My Favorite Hotel: 6 Columbus: It may have taken an eternity to open, but with a killer restaurant, seamless service and slick rooms, it was worth the wait.
Richard L. has been knocking around for a while, from Southeast Asia to South Central Los Angeles. He's done Hollywood (onset carpenter to screenwriter) and Madison Ave. (agency executive) and has no regrets. He's lived on both Coasts and points in between, as well as Paris and a village in Charente Maritime. He hopes to eventually retire to a pokey Shasta trailer parked alongside a sulfurous hot spring.
- Hotels Reviewed: 14
- Hometown: Newark, N.J.
- Places Lived: Many
- Education: B.A. George Washington University; M.F.A. Columbia University
- Prior Experience: Media Magazine, Cineaste, Ad Week, Advertising Age, Penthouse, Hustler, among others.
- My Favorite Hotel: Paris Las Vegas. It's all in the name; it has that certain je ne se quoi. The Vegas Strip has always been somewhat outré and Pigalle-ish; well now Pigalle or a facsimile thereof is actually in town and under a faux Eiffel Tower no less. This is Paris without the arrogance and snobbery, also without the petit chevre and vin de pays. N'importe quoi. Vivre Las Vegas!
Sara has lived in eight states and seven countries (and may be forgetting some) since 2000, including two years in a wind-battered apartment in Reykjavik, Iceland, a greenhouse in Santa Fe, N.M., and a cabin off the Maine coast. Before streamlining her belongings to a few duffel bags, Sara worked as a volunteer Wilderness EMT in the White Mountains, a dogsledding guide in Maine, and a logistics coordinator for Hurricane Island Outward Bound School. She's the recipient of a 2009 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation for a piece she wrote about roast goose that appeared in the December 2008 issue of the now-defunct Outside Go.
- Hotels Reviewed: 72
- Destination Expert for: New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Oahu, Dominican Republic, Miami
- Hometown: Houston, Texas
- Places Lived: New York; Reykjavik, Iceland; Hong Kong; Geneva; Pristina, Kosovo; Salamanca, Spain; Cochabama, Bolivia; Waterville, Maine; Hurricane Island, Maine; Lovell, Maine; North Conway, N.H.; Waitsfield, Vt.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Seattle; Carpinteria, Calif.; Houston
- Education: B.A., Colby College; M.S. in journalism, Columbia University
- Prior Experience: Outside Magazine, Iceland Review, and Atlantica (Icelandair's in-flight magazine). Contributed to: the Christian Science Monitor, Outside Go, the Smart Set, Men's Journal, Plenty, and the Chicago Tribune.
- My Favorite Hotel: The London West Hollywood. In a city where style often means snobbiness, the London is a revelation. Beautiful , flawless service, and a killer rooftop . Oh, and how about those bathrooms.
Will is both an editor and reporter for Oyster.com. A journalism outsider with investigative training alongside the NYPD, he has worked to develop our unique, covert reviewing process. A veteran traveler with passport stamps from Serbia to Laos to Guatemala, he enjoys creative writing, home carpentry, experimental artwork, and exotic cuisine (having sampled more than a reasonable number of delectable insects over the years).
- Hotels Reviewed: 143
- Destination Expert for: Jamaica, Miami
- Hometown: Royal Oak, Mich.
- Places Lived: New York; Kosjeric, Serbia; Chiapas, Mexico
- Education: B.A. in English literature, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
- Prior Experience: Office of the Mayor of New York
- My Favorite Hotel: Rockhouse Hotel, Jamaica. Sleek, socially conscious comfort in one of the world's friendliest, most beautiful places -- all for a fair price.