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Category Archive for Salem + Boston

Studio Allston: Boston art & design boutique hotel review! The Hourly Oyster House, Cambridge seafood restaurant.

studio allston hotel patio mural art restaurant

I’ll admit it feels good to be back in my element this summer: traveling, seeing friends, and experiencing creative food and art wherever I go.

I got to do all of the above during my colorful stay at Studio Allston Hotel in Boston, MA — as well as while dining outdoors at The Hourly Oyster House in nearby Cambridge!

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Located in the Allston neighborhood of Boston (west of downtown / the harbor), Studio Allston is a hotel and visual experience rolled into one. The property partnered with 22 local and national artists to fill the spaces with giant murals, modern furniture, and other funky decorative elements.

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Each of the 117 guest rooms is filled with energetic art, but 10 of these are signature suites designed by a different artist. These luxurious rooms have themes that include gaming, runway chic, and cosmos / space.

I was thrilled to have the movie screening themed suite, which is set up with colorful Ligne Roset Togo couches, and a retro-style fridge for drinks and snacks!

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The marvelous Studio Allston staff surprised me with wine, postcards, and eco-friendly boxed water in my room.

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I couldn’t have imagined a cooler place to stay in: the “Reel Countdown Movie Suite” designed by Cyrille Conan. The 500+ square foot suite includes a king bedroom and separate living area, and industrial film lights that add to the theme.

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The room’s large-screen TV has tons of channels, or you can easily connect your device via Google Chromecast to stream shows.

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I got cozy in the corner seat, and dove into the first three episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+.

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As you can see, the separate bedroom is also huge and filled with inspiration. 

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The “art head boards” add a lively touch to the modern amenities. My room at Studio Allston had everything I needed for a luxurious stay, including a full-sized bathtub.

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The floor-to-ceiling art immersion begins as soon as you enter Studio Allston’s lobby.

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Like the rooms, the lobby is gargantuan (one of the benefits of staying outside the compact downtown area). I was into the vaporwave 90s pastel throwback vibe of this lounge area.

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Boston’s edgy Allston neighborhood is filled with contemporary galleries and public art installations, much like this inventive hotel. Studio Allston is also right by Charles River (you can stroll across the bridge to the Harvard Cambridge district), and walking distance from Trader Joe’s (I went several times to stock up! Try the canned dolmades, oven-baked cheese bites, and hard kombucha).

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Studio Allston’s playful spaces encourage you to take part in the fun. There are Instagrammable spots such as these picture frames, and a ping pong table for impromptu games.

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Now that’s a disco elevator if I’ve ever seen one.

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No space is left un-glammed. Studio Allston lights up its elevator with pink neon, letters and numbers.

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Every morning, Studio Allston serves free breakfast, which you can eat indoors or outside on the deck. There’s also a table of free coffee and tea available at all times for guests.

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Studio Allston’s ground level Gallery Space also hosts rotating exhibits. At the time of my stay, there was a long hallway lined with photographer Jay Lamour’s flamboyant portraits.

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Can you tell that I felt inspired to #StayOutsideTheFrame, at Studio Allston?

studio allston building exterior hotel outside

Notice the painted van outside… that’s yet another art piece!

Cheers to Studio Allston Hotel (Boston, Massachusetts) for the hip stay. I especially dug the boutique hotel’s themed suites, groovy decor and location — and I think you would too.

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From Allston, you can take a quick Uber or walk across Charles Bridge to Cambridge, MA. I had the best time moseying around Harvard Square and taking in the ivy-and-brick atmosphere, such as at the Harvard Faculty Club. Stop for an iced tea at Tatte and pop into the Harvard Book Store, Leavitt & Peirce cigar and oddities shop, and Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe.

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After a few hours of walking around Cambridge, MA, I was ready for dinner at The Hourly Oyster House in the heart of Harvard Square. The restaurant sits in a classic building and is named after the “hourlies,” or horse-drawn wagons that used to roll past its location on 15 Dunster Street.

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The Hourly Oyster House invites diners to enjoy thoughtfully sourced and playfully prepared seafood and oysters from New England and beyond. The welcoming staff is terrific at explaining the daily catch and shellfish, which can include a tray of freshly-shucked oysters from Massachusetts, Maine, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.

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I was charmed by the old-school ambiance of The Hourly, including a long bar and stools where you can sit and choose oysters.

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The old-school bar serves wine and craft cocktails based on traditional recipes, but with modern touches. I’m still savoring my blood orange negroni with gin, Campari and vermouth — and the “Interrobang” with bourbon, apricot, and honey.

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I love to eat fish and seafood, and had a hard time choosing from the list of tantalizing appetizers! I pondered the calamari, lobster bisque, clam chowder, grilled octopus, tuna or fluke crudo… In the end, we went with the blistered shishito peppers, and New England cod cakes (with pickled onion, greens, and remoulade).

The Hourly Oyster House - Menu, prices, restaurant reviews

When it came to the main courses, you couldn’t go wrong with any of the ocean options. Here’s the grilled swordfish with arugula, fingerling potatoes, tomato conserva, and Parmesan. You can taste the high quality of each ingredient, and the fish’s subtle flavors.

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The juicy scallops were perfectly seared and came with mushroom risotto, broccolini, parmesan, and lemon for tang. For dessert, go for the mango panna cotta with a superb passionfruit whipped cream.

The Hourly Oyster House is the place to be, if you’re a fish and seafood aficionado like me. Thank you to the staff for the friendly welcome and meal to remember.

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While at Harvard Square, I also stopped by The Hong Kong restaurant for a photo. This is where The Satanic Temple’s 2014 Black Mass ended up taking place, as TST was not allowed to enact it at Harvard due to Catholic protestors. (The campus-adjacent Chinese restaurant, however, welcomes all religions!)

Speaking of the Devil… There’s another new episode of our show, “Satanic Show + Tell,” on The Satanic Temple TV. Dr John and I interview Carl Abrahamsson — notorious filmmaker, musician and author in the Satanic tradition. Watch our latest episode to learn about Carl’s friendship with Genesis P-Orridge, how he received a letter from Anton LaVey and was invited to the Black House, and other hellish tales tied to his rare collectibles. (See the trailer here, and watch our show here.)

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And in case you’re wondering, my tote bag is from the Maje x Sailor Moon collection. My pink round oversized sunglasses are by Emilio Pucci. Find more Pucci eyewear below:

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The Bostonian Boston hotel & North 26 Restaurant review! John Waters Baltimore tour, American Visionary Arts museum.

For Love & Lemons Botanic Strapless short mini Dress off shoulders

It’s been a while since I’ve dressed up for an event! (Above is what I wore for my cousin’s wedding — haven’t been to a gathering like this in years now.)

I’ve been making the most of reprieves in The Collapse to see family and friends. If you’ve been following my @lacarmina Instagram, you’ll know I was recently hopping around Boston, Baltimore, and Puerto Rico.

(Wearing a For Love & Lemons dress and Alexander McQueen skull bag. Click below for more of their designs:)

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Before returning home, I flew to Boston for a quick visit. Read on for soaring photos of my stay at The Bostonian Boston hotel, where I got to channel The Crow on their rooftop pati

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I took my Too Fast Moon Phases dress out to play at The Bostonian Boston, a Millennium hotel. Love the striking design featuring bat-wing bell sleeves and a witchy starry moon print.

It felt great to spread my wings inside my spacious Deluxe Room that featured a makeup / vanity area, large plush bed, and balcony. 

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The Bostonian’s contemporary rooms feature these photogenic views of historic downtown Boston, Quincy Market, and Faneuil Hall Marketplace (which is located right across the street from the hotel).

From my private Juliette balcony, I got to enjoy a bit of sun on my legs while looking out at the waterfront and surrounding North End architecture, which ranges from classic brick to Brutalism.

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The Bostonian Boston’s 7th floor also has a large rooftop patio with lounge chairs and tables, which any guest can access.

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The hotel’s location is as good as it gets, if you want to be close to Boston’s main attractions. I only had to walk a few minutes to find excellent shops and food, such as poke burritos. I also had fun meandering around the nearby docks.

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The Bostonian’s cheerful staff and chic red-and-black lobby were among the highlights of my stay. (Wearing a bell-sleeved Gothic dress by Too Fast Clothing.)

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Room service from North 26 is also very reasonably priced. I lazed around with avocado toast (topped with eggs, mozzarella, tomatoes, balsamic) and coffee with almond milk.

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The downstairs restaurant, North 26 Restaurant and Bar, stood out for its casual and locally sourced fare, including traditional New England seafood with modern elements.

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The bartender showcased his talent for cocktails: picante margarita with jalapeno tequila, orange liqueur, and lime. A starter of crab cakes with spicy remoulade and arugula hit the spot.

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Then came a fresh Maine Lobster & Shrimp Cobb with blue cheese, and succulent New York Sirloin with wild mushroom risotto.

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The Bostonian Boston hotel and North 26 restaurant have it all: superb views, location, service, and dining. I’d swoop back here any time for more. Cheers to Millennium Hotels for the stay.

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On the same trip, I had the opportunity to experience Baltimore, Maryland for the first time. I attended my cousin’s wedding at Catonsville Overhills Mansion / Whitehouse Caterers.

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I wore some of my favorite fashion for the occasion: For Love & Lemons Botanic strapless dress and Alexander McQueen silver skull bag. (Find these designs below):

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When in Baltimore… do what John Waters would do! This is the hometown of the cult film director known for his eccentric, fabulous comedies — including Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Hairspray, and Cry-Baby.

I made a bee-line to the American Visionary Art Museum, as it is right up John Waters’ surrealist alley.

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Many of John Waters’ films star drag queen and disco diva Divine. At the entrance, a poster of her highness asks visitors to mask up.

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The museum’s Jim Rouse Visionary Center houses a 10-foot statue of Divine by her friend Andrew Logan. The fierce queen spins from side to side, in her iconic orange dress from Waters’ Pink Flamingos movie.

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You can also fine Divine memorabilia at The American Visionary Art Museum’s gift store, Sideshow. Above is a Baltimore postcard of the drag queen, and an autographed copy of John Waters’ new novel, Liarmouth.

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A sign proclaims that John Waters considers Sideshow to be the best museum gift store out there — and I’d have to agree. I was mesmerized by the kooky and imaginative selection of items…

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… such as sparkly bracelets, gag gifts, and Nepalese peace sign bags (I got one of those).

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The American Visionary Art Museum consists of two buildings and an outdoor sculpture area with an head-scratching, eye-popping selection of permanent and special exhibits. The AVAM features self-taught and intuitive “outsider artists,” meaning that their works have plenty of passion and imagination, and aren’t afraid to bend so-called design rules.

Case in point: a depiction of the Biblical Job’s story includes details of a serpent Satan, and a golden cow licking out a sinner’s eye!

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Here are more examples of the offbeat Art Brut at AVAM. The above two works are part of a healing and compassion gallery (I chuckled at the angel saving the turtle!) Below are Chinese opium pillows and a robot family: humorous and charming outsider art that you wouldn’t find in a typical museum.

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After exploring the three floors of the Main Building, don’t miss out on the Jim Rouse Visionary Center. I was tickled to see this portrait of actress Edith Massey as Edie, the egg-loving trailer-dwelling mother in John Waters’ Pink Flamingos.

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And here’s the big bitch queen herself… Divine! As the late drag star sings in her catchy disco song, “Turn around, stand up like a man and look me in the eye. Turn around, take one final look at what you’ve left behind!”

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The AVAM runs an annual Kinetic Sculpture Race, among other creative events. Here are 15-foot fluffy pink poodles that participated in the race.

American Visionary Art Museum outside eye

I had an illuminating time at Baltimore’s American Visionary Museum — it was one of my favorite art experiences in recent memory. Don’t forget to visit Sideshow gift store, and say hi to owner Uncle Fun and the colorful staff!

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Next, I went to hang out in John Waters’ favorite Baltimore neighborhood — Hampden. As you saunter through the hip area along 36th Street, you’ll feel like a main character in one of his movies. (I spotted a mural of Mink Stole as the degenerate villain Connie Marble, from his 1972 movie Pink Flamingoes.)

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Many scenes from John Waters’ films were filmed in Baltimore’s Hampden, including Pecker and Hairspray. You might recognize the bright row houses from his cinematography (and as you’d expect, this is the city’s LGBTQ+ district).

John Waters has a nearby residence, and often spends time hanging in Hampden. Browse the director’s beloved Atomic Books, along with vintage clothing and record stores. Grab food at Ekiben (the yuzu juice rocks), and peek at The Food Market restaurant (the site of scenes from Pecker).

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Wave hello to the 30-foot pink flamingo sculpture, which poses over The Avenue and was made by Randall Gornowich.

Although I didn’t have much time in Baltimore, I’m pleased I got to get a glimpse of John Waters and Divine’s filthy, flamboyant universe. Have you ever been, or wanted to go?

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