Pera Palace, Istanbul
This 19th century jewel meets 21st century travellers needs after its recent restoration with its past century energy still alive and well. As you step through the heavy wooden doors of Istanbul’s Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah, you are immediately swept back to a golden age of travel and history.
Picture men in suit jackets sipping whiskey in dark libraries with high ceilings, while ladies take tea every afternoon to the sound of live piano music. Iconic Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah was build in the 1800s to fill the missing luxury gap in Istanbul, for travellers of the famed Orient Express who made their journey from far away Paris. Today it caters to an affluent, well-traveled and sophisticated guest who crave exposure to history and the art. The hotel guest book is filled with historic names like: Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Queen Elizabeth II, Emperor Franz Joseph, Alfred Hitchcock, Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway. Overlooking the iconic Golden Horn, set in the Pera district, the hotel’s location is still paramount for travelers looking to soak up both the new and old Istanbul.
The hotel 99 rooms and 16 luxury suites, named after the hotel’s past guests : Greta Garbo, Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway, reflect the charm of the late 19th century, with hand-woven Ousak carpets, white Carrara marble and Murano glass chandeliers, many include individual French balconies of which some overlook the Tepebasi area.
More spacious and luxurious accommodations, Hemingway Suites (around 592 square feet) and the Pierre Loti Suites come with French balconies overlooking the Golden Horn and Petits de Champs. One of the more unique suites at the property is the Piano Suite, featuring old baby grand piano, decked out in Art Deco style with the stunning views. Buy the creme de la creme of Pera Palace is King Edward VIII and Emperor Franz Joseph, with impressive views,personal dressing room, bathroom, and living and dining area with a study.
Visit Room 101, which Mustafa Kemal Ataturk suite, converted into a museum, full of history, decorated with tokens related to Ataturk and those that pertain to the early 20th century, including books, magazines, carpets and medals.
When not luxuriating on your private balcony drinking in views over the city, wind your way down to the lobby level where guests can truly absorb the historic splendour of the hotel. The Kubbeli Saloon is perfect for late afternoon where traditional tea service is held while piano music fills the background. The Saloon is attached to the library and is decorated with historic volumes, antiques and works of art. Tip: A communal table is available in the library to book for private dining functions.
In the evenings the Orient Bar comes alive with festive and creative cocktails, hotel has selection of Historical Cocktails, referring to the favourite drinks of iconic guests of the hotel.
The hotel’s Agatha Restaurant serves a blend of French, Italian and Turkish flavours. Watch the chefs at work in the open show kitchen and be sure not to miss the small wine cellar as well as pay a visit to ThePatisserie de Pera, a French patisserie for cakes and delightful pastries.
Turkey is known for its hammam and wellness culture and Pera Palace pays tribute to that heritage at its Pera SPA, with three treatment rooms, a steam room, sauna, indoor jet stream swimming pool, Jacuzzi and fitness center featuring traditional Turkish bath, which envelops spa-goers in scented steams, soap and body scrubs of the traditional Ottoman Hammam.
Hotel offers the Taste of Istanbul excursion perfect for foodies and culture vultures which includes guided tour of some of the city’s most vibrant markets, as well as a traditional Turkish cooking class. Navigate the alleys of bustling local markets, packed with colorful produce and spices, with the hotel’s Executive Chef and once back at the hotel enjoy chefs dinner prepared and served at Agatha Restaurant.
Hotel is perfectly located doorstep of some of the city’s iconic sites: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, the Basilica Cistern and the Chora Church and Karaköy and Galata and main street of Istiklal Avenue, flanked with boutiques, cafes and bars.
For a truly unique experience, book an afternoon at the Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam, located between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. The experience includes exfoliation, a traditional bath with copper bowls and a sudsy massage on a marble slab underneath a giant, white marble dome. However, it is not a private treatment and you will find yourself sharing the moment with other spa goers. But it’s worth putting any embarrassment aside and indulging as it is one of the more relaxing and memorable things to do in Istanbul.
Courtesy of Gabrielle Arnone for travAlliance Media