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With the Millennial generation growing up, the travel industry is beginning to see a gap in the market for sophisticated young travelers on a budget. Budget-chic brands such as CitizenM and Marriott’s Moxy, which offer high design and low price points, are booming, while budget brands such as Radisson are undergoing a design-focused overhaul. The result is that the high-end experience is being redefined: luxurious is no longer synonymous with expensive. That’s good news for travelers of all generations; gone are the days when a low budget meant bland and basic accommodations - as the following worldwide hotels prove.
New York City: Playland Motel
Located way out in Rockaway Beach in Queens, the Playland Motel, which opened in summer 2013, restored a 19th -century building and engaged 12 artists and designers to curate each of the guest rooms. Each season, artists and designers will update the rooms’ designs according to their own aesthetic. Rooms currently available to book include Kate Pane’s Coconut Castle room, which the artist describes as “a hot and heavy girlhood frolic with glitter sunburns, ponies and wet swimsuits.”
The Playland Motel is also home to a popular bar, diner, and pizzeria. The scene is young and the music loud. Rooms (with shared bathrooms) go for around $160 a night.
If this winter’s bright aurora forecast has you itching to see the northern lights, this last-minute flight and hotel deal from Icelandair might well be your ticket.
The Natura November Offer (available from November 1 through December 11) includes a roundtrip flight from cities including New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, and Boston, as well as accommodation at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura, with guaranteed early check-in from 10 a. m., and a daily Scandinavian buffet breakfast.
The package requires a four-night minimum and eight-night maximum stay, and must be booked through the Icelandair website, where you can also reserve additional excursions and airport transfers.
For a four-night trip (one night is spent in the air; three at the Natura hotel) we found the following prices per person (based on double occupancy):
- From New York (JFK) $741
- From Boston $741
- From Washington Dulles $649
- From Seattle $649
- From Denver $685
- From Toronto: $943
Winter predictably sees travelers heading to tropical islands for their vacations, but what about the cooler weather islands? There are a few advantages to heading someplace where you’ll be packing a sweater rather than a swimsuit: less crowds, better deals, and plenty of interesting things to do.
Here are a few of our favorite cold-weather island getaways.
Shetland Islands, Scotland
You’ll have to wrap up warm if you’re planning to visit Shetland in winter, but you may be rewarded with a sight of the Northern Lights; its far-north location makes it the best place in the British Isles to see them. Besides the aurora borealis, winter brings unique festivals, such as Up Helly Aa, a Viking fire festival held in Lerwick on the last weekend of January.
After spending five days in Iceland, I can’t understand what took me so long to visit. The country is a mere five-hour flight from New York (like flying to California) but it’s a world away in terms of the scale of its nature adventures. Iceland is truly an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.
Reykjavik is a small, charming city with one main street, a cute harbor, excellent restaurants, and a handful of city sights to explore, like the new opera house. But if you want to get the best of Iceland, the prime sightseeing is outside of town. I hadn’t planned any excursions in advance so I had to work fast and learn about what I needed to see.
I short-listed a few activities after asking fellow hotel guests what they recommended. Here’s what I did: Read more
The celestial phenomenon known as the Northern Lights (or, Aurora Borealis, to give it its proper name) has amazed people for centuries. These natural light displays occur when solar particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere and, upon impact, emit burning gases that produce different colored lights (green, yellow, and blue) that appear to dance across the sky.
The lights can be seen from places in the far north such as Iceland, Finland, Norway, Alaska and Canada, and their intensity is determined by a solar cycle that lasts 11 years. This December, these solar flares will be at their maximum point in this cycle, promising a remarkably high chance of seeing the aurora. Add to that the very reasonable cost of flights to Iceland in winter, and you have a great winter getaway to start planning . Read more
Iceland has long been a typical stopover for passengers making the trip between North America and Europe, and Icelandair has now capitalized on Reykjavík’s perfect mid-North Atlantic location by offering passengers on flights from the U.S.A. or Canada free stopovers of up to seven days. If, however, you are on a tight schedule and find yourself with just a few hours’ layover in Iceland’s capital, you still have time to get out of the airport and soak up some of the country’s highlights. Read more
You’ve probably heard of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon – but did you know that this popular tourist destination is completely man-made? Its creation stems from the operation of a nearby geothermal power station, which accidentally created a lagoon of crystal blue geothermal seawater. The idea is pretty simple: After using lava-heated water and steam to turn turbines, the power station feeds the water into the pool. (Don’t worry, the water is clean and it’s safe to swim.) Locals started bathing in the lagoon back in the seventies and noticed its silica mud had amazing effects on their skin, especially for those who had skin ailments like psoriasis. Today, it’s one of the most visited attractions in Iceland.
The lagoon holds six million liters of water and renews every 40 hours. Its on-site spa is routinely named one of the best in the world. Read more
Looking to expand your travel horizons this summer or fall? We’ve got the deals for you. From Bonaire to Bali to Bulgaria, travel outside the usual domestic or Caribbean destinations and head somewhere truly special this season – and still save in the process. Read more
We’re excited to announce that for the next 100 days or so, we’ll be bringing you some of the most inspired travel ideas! That means you’ll get a sneak peak at some of the coolest places to visit on Earth. Some look real, some not so much, but trust us, they’re all worth a spot on your bucket list. So bookmark our blog and get ready to follow as we embark on an adventure around the world, and back again. Read more
A new year is marching ahead, and along with it, a growing interest in adventure travel. Fire up your wanderlust for 2013 and beyond in these destinations, which are quickly gaining a reputation as hubs for adventure across land, sea, and even air, via two wheels, a paddle, or a pair of hiking boots. Here’s to another year of exploration and adventure, wherever your travels take you.
Namibia: How’s this for a stamp of approval from the adventure travel community: In October 2013, the Adventure Travel Trade Association, the authority of the industry, is hosting its annual summit in this spectacular African country. No surprise, as Namibia has been on the rise for a while now, with its jaw-dropping panoramas of the red dunes of Sossuslvlei, safari excursions to catch glimpses of such rare wildlife as the endangered black rhino, and commitment to eco-friendly practices. Read more
Even if the cold doesn’t bother you, the trouble with winter is that nightfall arrives sooner than most of us would like it to. There is however, one good reason to venture out into the frigid winter air during the darkest months of the year: the Northern Lights. Also known as aurora borealis or the “northern dawn,” this electrical phenomena is approaching a peak period that will last until about 2016. In other words, if you haven’t seen this shimmering display before, the odds of catching a glimpse in the next few years are higher than usual. Clear skies on or around the spring equinox (March 20 in 2013) will up your chances even further. And for travelers planning a trip to see the aurora, the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks helpfully posts a forecast online. Read more
There are many wonderful things about Europe (e.g., the history, the architecture, the casual acceptance of Nutella as an all-purpose condiment), but one of its greatest attributes is the size of its countries. Unlike the Americas or Africa, Europe’s countries allow for quick and easy boundary crossings over the course of a relatively short trip. Rather than seeing one place on a vacation, you can enjoy a Guinness in Ireland, tapas in Madrid, and boiled foods in London (we kid because we love). Planning your country hopping trip doesn’t have to be full of headaches. First things first, of course, you need to get from place to place. Depending on your planning personality, you have two options when it comes to flying: scheduling a stopover or booking regional flights. There are benefits and downsides to both. Read more
Anticipating the fall season conjures up many thoughts: foliage, football, harvest festivals . . . 4-star hotels? Maybe not the first thing that comes to mind, but for our new weekly roundup of favorite travel deals, we found a number of hot bargains for stays at 4-star properties during September, October, or November.
Not quite ready to embrace sweater weather? Stay at the posh Viceroy Palm Springs for as little as $111 per night on weeknights throughout the fall. That’s $60 less than the lowest rates you’ll find anywhere else, including the biggest online travel agencies (you know who we’re talking about). You’ll feel simultaneously relaxed and so very stylish lying by the minimalist pool with a cocktail in hand, or getting a massage at the indoor-outdoor spa. The hotel is also within walking distance to downtown Palm Springs and some of the area’s best golf courses. Read more
Looking to explore a new country this fall and partake in some adventure? Getaway to Iceland for three nights from October 1-December 15 for only $777 per person. This package costs the same as current rates for round-trip airfare, essentially making the other components of the trip free. Those components include three nights at the 4-star Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura, round-trip airfare from Boston, New York, or Washington, D.C., a day long excursion that includes a glacier ice walk, a northern lights hunt, and a lobster soup dinner, and daily admission to the Natura Hotel’s Soley Spa.
You may dismiss Iceland when brainstorming fall and winter vacations due to it’s chilling name. But Iceland is actually quite mild (a modest monthly average temperature of 39°F-45°F in October-December) compared to other Nordic nations like Norway where temperatures can easily dive below freezing at the end of the year. Fall and winter also make for prime viewing of the aurora borealis which is most vivid around the equinoxes (the fall equinox occurs September 22). Read more
In 2010, it was Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull. This year, Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano is the one making headlines, spewing lava up to 100 feet in the air and forcing closures of several main access roads in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park since it erupted on March 5. A flight restriction under 1,500 feet also is in place.
Of course, that hasn’t deterred adventure travelers, who’ve come out in droves to try to catch a glimpse of the action, according to the National Park Service. I’m not going to advise that – as deliciously tempting as watching molten lava flow into the ocean might be. So until Kilauea calms down, here are some other places where you can tour a volcano. (Though geology experts advise that eruptions can happen much faster than previously believed. Consider yourself warned!)
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