It's a fun job to do what we do at Oyster.com; every day, we add new hotel properties to our site -- with comprehensive reviews, hundreds of photos, and dozens of panoramas -- so, no matter where you want to go, you can get an accurate picture of just what it'll be like when you arrive. Since we're adding scores of hotels daily, it can be difficult to decide which we love best. But these are the eight properties that really caught our eye this week.
Ocean View Hotel, Santa Monica
The 66-room upper-middle-range Ocean View Hotel is across the street from the beach, and within easy walking distance of Santa Monica Pier, the Third Street Promenade, and several renowned restaurants along Ocean Avenue. A family-owned, eco-conscious boutique hotel, the Ocean View has a beachy ambience and stylish rooms -- some have furnished balconies and ocean views. Travelers might also want to check out the Shore Hotel, though, which is located just down the street; it's operated by the same family, and is equally "green."
La Maya Beach Spanish Water Luxury Apartments, Curacao
La Maya Beach Luxury Apartments is a serene property featuring 34 luxury two-bedroom apartments, all with views of a harbor known as the Spanish Water. The modern, upscale apartments have beautiful kitchens and decks facing out onto a lovely pool. There is no restaurant, fitness room, or other amenities on the property, and guests should rent a car in order to access lots of dining close by, as nothing is within walking distance. The pool's ocean view is a highlight.
Check out a 360-degree panorama of the beach here >>
With a full renovation in 2013, the upscale boutique L'Empire Paris, about a 10-minute walk from the Louvre and Tuileries Garden, is quite the trendy spot. It's aggressively modern, with a black-and-white color scheme and sleek, futuristic decor. The 42 rooms are large for Paris, and come with free Wi-Fi, wet bars, minibars, and Nespresso machines -- and have either king or twin beds. The hotel draws families, business travelers, and couples, but travelers may want to compare rates with the Hotel du Louvre, which is nearby.
The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Maldives
This 221-room resort in the secluded Noonu Atoll first opened in 2008 as a Hilton; nowadays, a Maldivian family runs what is probably the best local-owned resort in the country. It also has nightly rates that are some of the most competitive in the Maldives for this level of luxury, but it's important to note that food and beverage costs add up fast here. Most of the clean and contemporary villas (some with private pools) lie along the white-sand beaches and are separated by tropical vegetation; meanwhile overwater villas (for guests 12 and up) have private decks with ladders to the turquoise sea.
The Inn at Middleton Place, Charleston
The Inn at Middleton Place is an upscale hotel situated on the historic Middleton Place Plantation with beautiful gardens, landscaped lakes, and a scenic river. The hotel’s 55 rooms have rustic, cabin-like interiors with hardwood floors, wooden shutters framing floor-to-ceiling windows, and wood-burning fireplaces. There’s plenty to do on the property including free tours of the plantation's House Museum and stable yards, and the hotel has a restaurant with an outdoor deck for alfresco dining with a view. The property attracts many couples seeking a peaceful getaway immersed in nature, and the secluded location is about 40 minutes away from historic downtown Charleston.
Take in 360-degree views of the grounds >>
Avista Phuket Resort & Spa
A decidedly modern property, Avista Phuket Resort & Spa offers upscale, family-friendly lodging. The resort's hilltop location delivers bird's-eye views of the beach and sea, but the walk up and down the steep hill may be tedious for some. Thankfully, there's plenty to occupy guests on the grounds, including two pools, a game room, chic library, cozy spa, rooftop deck, and kids' club. The hotel's 143 guest rooms are spacious and streamlined with platform beds, deep soaking tubs, and private balconies overlooking the pool or ocean.
Aquamarine Beach Hotel, Cancun
In the northern area of the Hotel Zone, this budget property offers a range of amenities at affordable rates. The hotel caters to families, groups, and locals with a children’s play area, a mini-golf course, pool games, and activities throughout the day. Public space include two pools, a pretty beach, a whirlpool area, and two restaurants. Unfortunately, the 172 guest rooms are showing their age and in some cases need repair, but they are a comfortable size for families. And the beach's calm waters are also a boon for parents with young kids, although this sandy strip is small and the water is shallow. The beaches at Casa Maya Cancun or Krystal Cancun, for example, are much nicer.
The Lodge on Lake Lure, North Carolina Mountains
Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains' natural beauty, on a lake that’s been used as the setting for more than one movie, the Lodge on Lake Lure offers a quiet, romantic mountain retreat. The upscale inn has 17 cozy rooms, most offering unobstructed lake views, often best taken in from private rocking chairs on a shaded terrace. The restaurant serves an extensive free, Southern-inspired breakfast daily, as well as a prix fixe dinner (for a fee) four nights a week. A veranda overlooking the lake offers outdoor dining in good weather.