The Great Escape – down the block.

This summer was wonderful….and LONG.

In the great tradition of “the more you pay the less you go” my kids’ private school had a full three month break over the summer.  Three months of no school.  Yikes.

So now, I’m the one who needs a vacation, with the husband and without the kids. This poses a problem.  Between camp, renovating, and the economy, we are not exactly swimming in petty cash for a weekend escape.  True, we could go back out to the country without the kids, but that would mean making my own bed, straightening up after myself, and dealing with closing up the house again.  Plus, there would be the inevitable leaky roof issue, or raccoons in the attic problem, or even acknowledgment that it isn’t our house, but my parents’ house, with all of its attendant Freudian bagage.

What to d0?

How about a night in a hotel in NY?  No travel costs, lots of deals if we stay on a weekend night, and proximity should there be an emergency at home.  Plus, I’ve always wondered what tourists do when they’re here.  What do they go see? (aside from the M&M store – something I will never, ever, understand.  Don’t they have M&M’s in Missouri?) Where do they stay?  How does it feel to see NY for the first time?

Enter, a new(ish) website that offers unbiased (read: not sponsored by the hotels themselves) travel website staffed by actual reporters instead of regular people writing about their personal experience.   Unlike TripAdvisor (not to say anything bad about them.  I happen to like that site, too.) they only use real, undoctored photos — not the ones from the publicity packet. so you really see the size of the beach, the cleanliness of the pool, the crowds on the lounge chairs.  Honestly,- do people really buy those PR photos?  The ones that show perfectly coiffed, hard-bodied guests COMPLETELY ALONE ON THE BEACH during the holiday rush at a Caribbean resort??  Yeah, right.)

At the moment, Oyster is a bit limited in it’s scope:  a few islands in the Caribbean, and lucky for me: New York City.

Oyster has some pretty fun  but useless categories like  “celebrity sighting hotels,”  “famous affair hotels” that probably make for better reading than research – unless you’re a stalker or a cheater, that is.  But I opted for the eminently practical “Best Value Hotels” category. Two of their picks On the Ave and The Beacon were out.  I might be into the no-travel get away, but less than 20 blocks isn’t a getaway, it’s home, only more expensive.

The other budget hotels were likewise G.U. (Geographically undesirable.)  as for me, a getaway does not include hoardes of tourists at Times Square,or hoards of businessmen in Midtown.

Still I soldiered on.  Kid Friendly Hotels was a category I was happy to find…so I could avoid those places at all costs.  But Most Romantic Hotels seemed promising. Again, though, no neighborhoods I wanted to explore were represented.  And that’s where I get to problem number one.

I’d like for my husband and I to stay in a cool neighborhood — say near the High Line, or in the East Village. I’d like our hotel to be within walking distance of new, cool, restaurants, and a downtown vibe.  But doing so would only highlight how incredibly OLD we have become.  The last time hubby and I went downtown to dinner were not years older than everyone else —- but DECADES.  You know you’re old when you look at the other patrons and think “I could be his mother.”  or worse yet “get a blanket to cover that girl!  She looks practically naked!” I think Oyster should add a “Best Hotels that are cool but won’t make you feel like you’re 100 years old.” category.

And that brings me to problem number two.  If I really want to get away — I have to be able to get away from myself.  I need to be more positive about my looks, my age, my hipness quotient.  So maybe I should just stay home — because there’s no way that’s gonna happen.

Still, a girl can dream, can’t she?  I can click around Oyster and imagine myself luxuriating in a gorgeous hotel while some studly masseur takes care of the kinks in my neck. Because on the web, the world is my oyster…and I am its pearl.

This is a Traveling Mom sponsored post.

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