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The Magic of Turkey: Istanbul Luxury Travel Guide



One of the most diverse and historically significant countries in the world, Turkey is a great cultural melting pot. Its unique geographical location allows you to experience the best that Europe and Asia have to offer. On this journey we take you first to Istanbul, once the center of Ottoman Empire and Turkey’s most populous city, then to the fairytale lands of Cappadocia and a final exploration of the city of Olympos, set in Turkey’s magnificent blue waters and also known as Turkish Riviera.


Words by Markin Abras (part 1 of 2)


WHY TURKEY?


First of all, Turkey is home to eighteen World Heritage Sites, including sixteen cultural sites, making it one of the most historically significant countries in the world. Its rich history, combined with marvelous cuisine, modern infrastructure and cultural diversity, makes Turkey one of our top travel recommendations.


Istanbul sunset by Osman Koycu

Hagia Sophia Mosque by Halil Ibrahim Cetinkaya


Discover the remains of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires while enjoying the magnificent views of Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait. Get lost in the winding paths of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and travel back in time by experiencing the 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia. Travel outside Istanbul and explore breathtaking landscapes, towering mountains, ancient sites, the crystal blue waters of the Aegean Ocean and a variety of rich cuisines and flavors.


WHEN TO VISIT


April through May and September through October have the best weather, with temperatures averaging 68°F to 86°F. The summer months, June through August, are hot and considered high season in Turkey as locals enjoy their summer holidays.


CURRENCY


The Turkish Lira is the official currency of Turkey and all major credit cards are accepted. We recommend that you exchange money, especially for taxi fares and small purchases.


Image by Meg Jerrard


TRAVEL TIPS


American citizens need an e-visa, which can be easily applied for online 24/7 at www.evisa.gov.tr. The visa is approved within approximately 72 hours and is valid for 3 months. Make sure your passport is valid for 6 months beyond your expected date of entry into Turkey.


Entry into Turkey requires a PCR and/or antigen test 72 hours prior to your departure. A health questionnaire, the Turkey Entry Form, must also be completed (https://register.health.gov.tr). Once this is completed, a code, also known as HES, will be emailed to you. Print it out and/or take a screenshot with your phone, as you will need to show it when boarding your flight and at some entry points in Turkish tourist destinations.


If returning to the US, a COVID -19 antigen or PCR test is required at least 3 days prior to your departure date. This is required even if you are fully vaccinated. COVID tests are readily available at most hotels.



GETTING THERE: TURKISH AIRLINES


Traveling to Turkey has never been easier. Turkish Airlines offers weekly non-stop flights from Miami International Airport to Istanbul. Long-haul travel to Istanbul is made comfortable with Turkish Airlines’ state-of-the-art aircraft and world-class service.


FLY IN LUXURY


Experience world-class service, sky-haute cuisine, luxurious amenities and supreme comfort with Turkish Airlines Business Class.


TURKISH AIRLINES


Discover Turkey , including more than 120 countries, with Turkish Airlines for a unique travel experience. Book a plane ticket, hotel or car visiting the website below or calling customer service.


1 (800) 874-8875


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Seating


With an advanced seat control system, you can adjust your seat to your exact needs. The fully reclining seating system can be adjusted to a variety of positions and transforms into a comfortable bed. Other notable features include a comprehensive entertainment system, a reading lamp, a power supply, and an adjustable and rotating dining table. An in-seat massage function is also available on some aircraft.


Customize your dining experience by visiting Turkish Airlines’ mobile app or website up to a week before your flight. Choose from an array of freshly prepared dishes, but be sure to make your selections at least 48 hours before your flight. Award-winning in-flight service, prepared by Turkish Do&Co, prepares traditional Turkish cuisine and other world cuisine. Top-notch service is provided throughout the flight, including the main course served to you by the on-board chef.


NOTABLE


A Versace Amenity Kit, blanket, water bottle, pair of slippers, socks, dental care kit, Denon noise-canceling headphones and complimentary Wi-Fi await you at your seat. The extra baggage allowance, priority check-in and access to Turkey Airlines lounges make Turkish Airlines Business Class a preferred choice.


A must-visit: Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge at Istanbul Airport has enhanced the airport lounge experience like no other airline. With over 60,000 square feet, you’ll find private suites with showers, numerous relaxation areas, Parisian café-style tables, live cooking stations and self-serve drink stations with alcohol, nuts and a variety of desserts. There’s also a business center, children’s area and even a library.


Image by Gorkem Gecim


Destinations


ISTANBUL


Istanbul offers a treasure trove of cultural and historical riches, having hosted many notable civilizations. In fact, Istanbul served as the capital of the Romans, Byzantines and Ottoman Empires for 16 centuries. Moreover, Istanbul lies across two continents - Europe and Asia making a city on two continents. With its 2,500 years of history combined with a lively atmosphere, Istanbul is a city you must visit.


Major attractions include historical mosques, palaces and the Grand Bazaar, the largest old covered bazaar in the world with over 3,000 shops. Istanbul is home to a vibrant nightlife, food, specialty shops, artisans and cultural sites. Our favorites sites to visit include Aya Sofya, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome, Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower, Istanbul Archeology Museum, Dolmabahçe Palace and the Carpet Museum. A boat trip on the Bosphorus, the narrowest strait in the world connecting the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, is a popular day excursion.


To get off the tourist path, head to one of Istanbul’s neighborhoods, which offer a variety of shops and restaurants. Taksim, Galata, Beyoğlu, Karaköy, Beşiktaş, Ortaköy, Kadıköy (on the Asian side of Istanbul), Sultanahmet and the waterfront stretch of Bebek are all worth a visit. Bebek is one of the best areas for low-key and ideal dining overlooking the Bosphorus.


Stay in Luxury


Raffles Istanbul

Levazım, Zorlu Center, Koru Sokağı

34340 Beşiktaş, İstanbul, Turkey

(800)768-9009


Image by Gorkem Gecim


OVERVIEW


Located in the upscale shopping and residential center of Zorlu, Raffles Istanbul is an ultra-luxurious 5-star hotel offering world-class accommodations and service. Its unique location offers panoramic views of the Bosphorus Strait and it is just 2.5 miles from Taksim Square and 3.5 miles from numerous historical sites including the magnificent Dolmabahçe Palace.


With 136 sophisticated guest rooms and 49 suites, Raffles Istanbul stands out from other hotels with its contemporary, elegant design and state-of-the-art facilities. In addition, there are 66 fully-serviced one and two bedroom residences. Guests enjoy floor-to-ceiling windows, private balconies, en-suite bathrooms with televisions, tea and coffee making facilities, complimentary Wi-Fi and an easy-to-use sophisticated multimedia panel system that allows you to control your in-room entertainment system. Residence guests enjoy a 24-hour butler service that can take care of all your needs.


Attention to every detail is the hallmark of Raffles and one of the reasons why it has won numerous awards including Forbes Travel Guide 5- Stars Award and World Luxury Awards for its culinary destinations.


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FACILITIES


Home to Istanbul’s largest spa, Raffles Spa, is the ultimate sanctuary for your body and mind. It spans 32,200 square feet and features seven treatment rooms, VIP spa suites, indoor and outdoor pools, vitality pool, 2 Vichy showers, 4 saunas and steam rooms, Jacuzzi, 3 hammams, relaxation rooms and a fully equipped gym with personal trainers.


For special events, Raffles offers 10 meeting rooms to suit your needs. All facilities are equipped with the latest technologies and the ballroom can accommodate up to 1,200 guests. A dedicated staff is available to manage all logistical aspects of your event such as business meetings, seminars, weddings and special occasions.


Other notable features include the Raffles helipad - ideal for a seamless arrival. The Raffles Club, a private lounge, offers a range of exclusive services such as use of meeting rooms, complimentary limousine service, special discounts on airport transfers and numerous personal services such as massages, clothes ironing and more.


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There are 2 restaurants on the premises. Isokyo serves Pan-Asian cuisine with a contemporary flair in an elegant and intimate setting. It serves a variety of classic dishes such as sashimi, Dim Sum and more. Oshi Sushi, wild Sea Bass served with Sichuan Sauce, beef tenderloin with soy glaze and Tumeric Tempura Soft Shell Crab are delicious choices. For dessert, be sure to try the Coconut Panna Cotta with a hint of lemongrass, served with coconut mango sauce. Rocca Restaurant serves modern Turkish cuisine and is the place where an excellent breakfast is served daily. Rocca is famous throughout Istanbul for its Sunday Brunch with a range of delicacies such as the lobster rolls. Long Bar and Lounge 6, featuring a terrace overlooking Istanbul is also available.


For more information, visit: www.raffles.com/istanbul/dining/rocca/


Bebek Hotel Istanbul, by the Stay

Cevdet Paşa Cd. No. 34

34342 Beşiktaş, İstanbul

(0212) 970 78 36


Penthouse Bosphorus Suite


OVERVIEW


The Bebek Hotel by the Stay is located in Istanbul’s poshest and trendiest neighbourhood, right on the banks of the Bosphorus. The adults-only boutique hotel has a rich past, having been a popular retreat for holiday seekers since the 1950s. Today, Bebek Hotel has become a popular destination for an arts and entertainment scene.


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FACILITIES


The grandiose Turkish hotel by the sea has 22 suites - city, corner and Bosphorus rooms. All suites were designed by renowned architect Mahmut Anlar and feature original art deco elements, wood paneling, turquoise carpets and modern furniture. Marble bathrooms, king size beds, air conditioning, LED flat screen TV, mini bar, tea and coffee set are also provided in all suites. Private balconies with stunning views of the Bosphorus are available in the Bosphorus Suites.


For an unforgettable stay, book the Penthouse Bosphorus Suite for a minimum of 2 nights and enjoy a complimentary airport transfer upon arrival. Also noteworthy are the original artworks by local artists displayed in all suites and in the hotel lobby.


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FOOD & DRINK


The Bebek Hotel has two restaurants and a rooftop bar. Bebek Terrace Restaurant sits on a large terrace overlooking the Bosphorus and serves Mediterranean and international dishes. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily. Non-hotel guests are welcome, but reservations are required. Dragon Restaurant, Turkey’s oldest Chinese restaurant, serves Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine. Decorated in Chinese Art Deco style, the restaurant also offers a direct view of the Bosphorus. Last but not least, the rooftop bar Bebek Hotel is a chic, fashionable and lively destination and is considered the place to be in Istanbul. Enjoy signature cocktails with breathtaking views of the Sea of Marmara and live entertainment. Open seasonally from May to September.


(+90) 538-487-1846



The Stay Bosphorus

Yıldız, The Stay Bosphorus

Ortaköy Salhanesi Sk. No:1/A

34349 Beşiktaş, İstanbul

(0212) 970 78 30

www.thestay.com.tr/the-stay-bosphorus-hotel.aspx


OVERVIEW


This Ortakoy Ottomanstyle hotel, located on the edge of the Bosphorus, is part of The Stay’s growing list of properties. Showcasing 19th century architecture with modern design, the old antique mansion has been carefully restored. Located in the old town of Ortakoy, it is central and within walking distance to numerous shops, restaurants and close to Bosphorus Bridge.


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FACILITIES


The hotel has 26 rooms and 12 suites. Choose a room with a balcony so you can enjoy a great view of the Bosphorus. For an even more magnificent stay, the Executive Bosphorus Suite offers not one but two balconies. All rooms have high ceilings designed to preserve the original features of the hotel and include free WiFi, air conditioning, minibar, TV, tea maker, Nespresso coffee maker and other amenities such as water bottles.


Stay Bosphorus also offers a fitness center, car rental, business center, and dogs weighing less than 17 pounds are welcome for an additional fee.


FOOD & DRINK


There is no full restaurant on site, but numerous restaurants are within walking distance, including the popular House Café next to the hotel. Traditional Turkish Breakfast, featuring a selection of Turkish delicacies such as cheeses, olives, sausages, breads and spreads, is served in the hotel’s lounge between 7:30am and 11am.


Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul


Bosphorus Grill at Çırağan Palace Kempinski

Yıldız, Çırağan Cd. No: 32

34349 Beşiktaş, İstanbul

(0212) 326 46 46


OVERVIEW


For an unforgettable dining experience, reserve a table at one of Çırağan Palace Kempinski’s renowned gastronomical sites. The 17th century palace is the only Ottoman imperial palace and hotel located on the Bosphorus.


The Grand Hotel has 310 rooms, including 20 suites and 11 suites in the historical palace. It also houses 5 well-known culinary destinations including the award-winning Tugra Restaurant, Gazebo and Bosphorus Grill, where we had the opportunity to experience it. The 47 and Le Fumoir are popular places to relax and enjoy sensational cocktails.


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FOOD & DRINK


Bosphorus Grill serves international cuisine with stunning direct views of the Bosphorus, including views of the Maiden Tower and the Bosphorus Bridge. The family-friendly restaurant can seat up to 100 guests and has a stylish ambience.


The Beetroot Gazpacho with warm lobster, avocado and mascarpone cheese and the Salmon Gravlax, served with baby artichoke confit, are notable starters. For main courses, Beef Medallion, mushroom with sweet potato puree and Thracia Lamb Chops with smoked eggplant, lilac onion and apricot jam are delicious choices. Inquire about the catch of the day, cooked to perfection and served with buttered vegetable quinoa. Finally, try a variety of sweet delicacies such as walnut baklava, kuş goezue, şoebiyet, kazandibi and bread kadayıf. If you are a chocolate lover, choose the black forest cake, nut sponge, cherry, chocolate cream topped with créme Chantilly.



Images provided by each mentioned venue on this story. Special thanks to Richard Peters Photography for the "Istanbul" gift image.

1 Comment


Great article, thanks for sharing! Istanbul Travel Agency

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