Posted by - 22 November 2009 - 4 Comments

Wonderful Istanbul

Last week I was lucky enough to go to Istanbul for work for three nights.  I had preconceived notions about Turkey as a country, not all positive but these were quickly blown away during my stay.  

We stayed at the uber hip W Istanbul situated in the renovated Akaretler Row Houses.  An area populated with designer boutiques including, Chloe, Dsquared2 and Marc Jacobs.  It's like the equivalent of staying on Bond Street in London, but not as central being slightly off the tourist trail.  It's about 20-30 minute taxi ride to the well-known historical sites of Sultanahmet, and around 15 minutes to the Bosphorous straits where all the best restaurants are located.

Red carpet shopping experience on Akaretler Row

First impressions
Walking into the W you could be mistaken for walking into a nightclub.  The lobby is dimly lit and accented by bright pink neon strip lights with lounge music pumping out of Bose speakers.  It's all very cool.  To complement the club-esque interior, the entrance is flanked by a man dressed in black, who wouldn't look out of place on the cover of Arena Homme.  Except he's far more friendly.  On entering the hotel you have to walk through a metal detector, which is a little startling at first, but you'll soon notice that entrances to all hotels, restaurants and bars in Istanbul have one situated infront of the door.  It's something you quickly get used to and certainly nothing to be alarmed by.  Istanbul is a surprisingly safe city.

The rooms

On checking in, we were told that the hotel was very busy, so the standard 'Wonderful' rooms we had booked had been upgraded for free.  "Upgrade, a magic word all travellers love to hear, signalling great start to our three night stay in Istanbul.   

Rock n roll bathroom

I can't remember what room I was upgraded to I think it may have been the 'Studio' suite, but one thing I do know is it was huge.   At 592 square feet it was bigger than the average London studio  apartment and full of all the mod cons you'd expect from a design hotel: flatscreen TV, Bose ipod dock, Bliss toiletries, spa bathrobes and waffle slippers, 350 thread-count luxury bedding and goose-down duvet and pillows completed what was the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in.  It was pure bliss.  It made my bed at home feel like a bed of rocks.

Window seat with decorative Ottoman furnishings
At first glance the W Istanbul could be a design hotel anywhere in the world - London, New York or Paris, but look closely and there are discreet touches which remind you that you are indeed staying in a hotel in Turkey. These included flowing Eastern drapes, embellished jewelled velvet cushions to the art adorning the walls.  However, unless you look, you will be hard pressed to notice these touches without a torch because of the lighting.  Personally, I would have liked to see more elements of the city I was visiting, but somehow it works and very much representative of the city itself which is a mishmash of East and West.
Eating and drinking
When you enter you're room, you'll find bottles of wine, trays of snacks in the room and bottles of water positioned by the basin.  Goodies tempting you to consume them under the guise they're part of your room charge with persuasive language like 'eat me' and 'indulge'. 

The hotel restaurant has just recently undergone a makeover and is now the aptly named W Kitchen serving an array of well-cooked international food.  We ate there for lunch and breakfast during the stay and I found the food to be very good.  At breakfast I particularly loved the granola pots and yoghurt and selection of fresh fruits and breads.

Like all design hotels the W Istanbul has a destination bar.  The Sanderson in London has the Long Bar and the Gramercy the Rose Bar and the W Istanbul ..the W lounge.    The W lounge is the place to be seen in Istanbul on a Thursday.  The expat community and where the well-heeled locals come to let their hair down.    The presence of Turkish paps outside of the hotel helped to add to the air of exclusivity.  Refreshingly, unlike other design hotel bars say in New York or London there's no pretentious door policy.  Everyone is welcome.  There's no table charges either for sitting down.  If you're ever in Istanbul, the W lounge is a must-visit for people watching and seeing how the other half party.
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Anonymous said...

Firsty great article - Istanbul looks FANTASTIC! :) very handy tips for my trip next summer! x

Sophie said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm going to posting up details of the rest of the trip in the next few days, so look out for it!

sultanahmet said...

Spice Market is beatiful and delightful.
must go.

Davenz said...

Nice blog... This is beautiful place. Thanks
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