Design Hotel Istanbul
Istanbul, this immense and vibrant city bound to Europe and right across from Asia, possesses an atypical personality. A city of art and culture, it has managed to integrate elements provided by all contributors in order to nurture a unique vitality. Indeed, it is this vitality that we find at work today in the different design hotel styles that Istanbul offers.
Design Hotels in Istanbul: Overlooking the Bosphore
Born from a history during which aristocrats and merchants alike have always succeeded in creating carefree lives for themselves, several palaces and large residences have been built on the banks of the Bosphore.
Some have recently been turned into hotels, making the most of beautiful terraces that overlook the straits and where it is possible to enjoy a meal or even just a drink.
The most well-known is almost certainly the A’Jia, which opened in 2005. A former 19th century residence that is now a hotel with minimalist design features, the reflection of the perfect white façade of the hotel shimmers in the waters of the Bosphore. Situated high upon the Asian bank of the straits, it is isolated from the town yet boasts a leafy surrounding area and access via boat.
Another hotel created in 2005 – and one that is just as popular, if not more so – is the Sumahan on the Water. A former distillery converted into a hotel with a warm, loft apartment feel, the Sumahan is also located on the Asian bank of the Bosphore - although a lot nearer to the heart of Istanbul. It’s 20 rooms and suites all offer spectacular views of the strait, while its restaurant, like others in the surrounding area, will delight lovers of good food.
Across from the Suhaman, on the European bank of the Bosphore, we find two more design hotels, both very different in terms of style and comfort and both benefiting equally from remarkable views over the Bosphore: the highly glamorous and luxurious Les Ottomans Hotel and modern, slightly industrial looking Radisson Blu Bosphoron Hotel.
Design Hotels in Istanbul: A Loft-Style feel
The magnificent Witt Hotel, a modern building which opened in 2008 right in the heart of Istanbul’s arty district, offers 17 open space suites measuring 60m², each with its own kitchen and living room. What really stands out, however, are the wonderful views over Istanbul from the three suites on the top floor. Conceived by designers from the Autoban group, its “retro-modern” design is impeccable and each room is equipped with state-of-the-art technology.
Tomtom Suites, which also opened in 2008, is a former convent that has been skilfully transformed into a design hotel with 20 luxury suites. With a butler on every floor, organic food products, high ceilings, rooms measuring between 35 and 83m², local artwork, cutting edge technology, a well-stocked library-cum-lounge area, and, above all, a breakfast hall with a terrace that overlooks the entire city, there are some very good reasons to stay at this hotel.
A stone’s throw away we find the Ansen 130 suites, a narrow building that has been converted into a hotel with around a dozen rooms. Although the design has a Swedish feel to it and the service is a little less formal that in the previous two hotels mentioned, this is on the whole a friendly and spacious hotel which acts as the perfect starting place for an individual exploration of the city. There is a French restaurant with a small terrace on the ground floor.
Furthermore, we must also note that the Suhaman on the Water (described above) also has a very “loft-style” feel to it.
Design Hotels in Istanbul: Original hotels with character
The charming and colourful 5oda (pronounced “besh oda”) Hotel is housed in a building dating back to 1932 which was renovated to offer just 5 large rooms (each over 38m² in size).
A more bohemian and lively alternative is the Misafir Suite, with 7 spacious rooms and located above the trendy “Istanbul 8” coffee bar, right in the centre of the Beyoglu area of the city, also known as “The Paris of the East”. Even though this is a friendly and lively area, the hotel’s rooms are equipped with triple glazed windows to keep out any noise pollution.
The nearby Miapera Hotel opened in 2009. It offers some of the most attractive design aspects the city: both original and modern yet at the same time practical, and inspired by more vintage elements. Whilst offering a bar, restaurant and sauna, it is also close to the city’s trendiest bars and restaurants.
Perhaps a more accessible hotel with more charm and character is the Ibrahim Pasha Oteli – a perfect mix of modern décor from the West and classical décor from the East. With its library, chimney and roof-top terrace, this boutique hotel, which is both intelligent and comfortable, is perfectly situated only a few paces away from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art.
Another hotel that you might prefer, which is nearby and born out of the same spirit, is the Nomad Hotel, owned by two sisters since 1984 and recently revamped by the French designer Dan Beranger.
Design Hotels in Instanbul: The “Arabian Nights” experience
Ah, the East! Ah, the Ottoman art of living! With its silks and embroideries, its miniatures and its endless arabesques, its veils and its vapours… in Istanbul there is a sensuality to the art of relaxing which has undoubtedly came to inspire local designers.
Fans of minimalism can’t stomach it, zealous aesthetes say it’s in bad taste, romantics find it exotic, and hideaways lovers see it as an invitation for pleasure. Whether you love or hate this type of décor, one thing is for sure - nobody can remain indifferent to its unique personality.
We can find a luxurious and sumptuous example of this style in a small palace on the European banks of the Bosphore in the shape of the Les Ottomans Hotel, opened in 2006. Such a tribute to the ancient Pashas would have no doubt pleased them, and designer Zeynep Fadilloglu has used silks and chandeliers from all over the world to make every one of the hotels 12 rooms inimitable. Furthermore, to unite the East and the West, the hotel has a Caudalie Spa.
There is also a Hollywood version of this Ottoman décor, inside the W Instanbul which opened in 2008. In stark contrast to the minimalist and off-centre style he chose for the A’Jia, owner Sedar Biligi wanted to turn this former residence for high-ranking officials situated in Istanbul’s historic heart into an urban caravanserai, with the help of the nimble-fingered designer Mahmut Anlar from the Geomim group. The star attraction of this softly lit space that looks out over its own patios and lounges is the Spice Market restaurant, run by the famous New York chef Jean Georges.
Four other hotels also play the “Ottoman décor” card – hotels that are glamorous but perhaps more sleek that the first two mentioned. The first three are found in the historic and touristy district of the city: the Faros Hotel (very lively and with a terraced restaurant), the Avicenna (a peaceful atmosphere in a typically beautiful building with a pleasant patio) and the Ottoman Hotel Park (with hammam). The fourth and final hotel, the Pera Tulip (equipped with an underground swimming pool), is found in the middle of the chic and historic Pera district.