The Sultan Suite at Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul // © 2017 Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
Feature image (above): Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul dates back to the Ottoman empire. // © 2017 Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
Despite the political unrest over the past year, Turkey still has much offer those who make the trek. And if there’s one place worth booking deluxe accommodations, it’s probably Istanbul. From the dazzling goods at the Grand Bazaar to the delicious food, there are bargains to be found everywhere — especially in the world of hospitality. Indeed, a luxury hotel here can have a high-end feel at a mid-range budget.
Following are three properties to consider when traveling to the place where East meets West.
Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
Though it’s only been a hotel since 1990, Ciragan Palace Kempinski dates back to the Ottoman Empire, when it was built by a sultan in the 1860s. Today, this baroque-style marvel in Istanbul’s Besiktas neighborhood offers stunning waterfront views of the Bosphorus strait, and it is also the only hotel in the city accessible by land, sea and helicopter. The rooms reflect the glory days of sumptuous Turkish palaces, while the luxurious spa includes a classic hammam (Turkish bath).
Guests are invited to relax and enjoy fine liquors and cigars at Le Fumoir, an elegant smoking lounge that extends onto the patio during summertime and also doubles as a dreamy hookah garden. With all the impressive details in the Ciragan Palace Kempinski, a guest can feel like a sultan, too.
Like Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Istanbul’s Raffles hotel is located in the Besiktas municipality, but the two properties couldn’t be more different. While both deliver undisputed grandeur, Raffles is thoroughly modern inside and out. Sandra Cortner, the hotel’s lead designer, aimed to make the presentation transitional and timeless, with a color palette that references the crown jewels of the Byzantine era paired with a contemporary decor that reflects the adjacent Zorlu Center, a premier shopping venue.
Guests don’t need to travel far for mouth-watering gastronomy here, either. Michelin-starred Spanish chef Sergi Arola delivers Catalan-inspired fare at Arola, while a pair of patisseries serve world-famous Turkish sweets, cakes, pastries, ice creams, homemade breads and other artisanal delicacies. Meanwhile, Lavinia — which is named after a poem by Turkish poet Ozdemir Asaf — redefines the traditional lobby lounge, and the open-air Pool Bar & Grill offers nightly music from live DJs along with breathtaking views of the city and strait. Guests can find the same stunning views in any of the hotel’s spacious 136 guestrooms and 49 suites, too.
Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah
Located in Turkey’s Beyoglu region, Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah first opened its doors in 1892. Providing sophisticated accommodations, several rooms are named after former guests, including Emperor Franz Joseph, King Edward VIII, Greta Garbo, Ernest Hemingway, and most famously, Agatha Christie, who purportedly wrote Murder on the Orient Express while staying at the hotel. Pera Palace brings history to life with guestrooms that reflect neoclassic-style accommodations, but with contemporary upgrades.
The pet-friendly establishment includes room service geared toward four-legged friends, including unseasoned delicacies such as poached fillet of salmon and chopped fillet of beef.
The food isn’t just for the dogs, though: The hotel also features a fusion of French, Italian and Turkish cuisine at Agatha Restaurant and desserts at the colorful belle epoque-style Patisserie de Pera. Meanwhile, the Kubbeli Saloon serves delicious afternoon tea, while Orient Bar pours fine wines, spirits and specialty cocktails.