A trip to the ancient city at the crossroads of Europe and Asia should include a luxury stay. To wit, Raffles – yes, that Raffles, famous for its Long Bar, its Singapore Sling and its deep history with colonial Singapore – opened last fall in Istanbul.

We love it because, one, it’s a part of FRHI worldwide, which also includes Fairmont, one of our own country’s flagship brands, and the more urban, wallet friendly Swissôtel, and two, because its location in Istanbul is a treat.

Raffles Istanbul sits atop one of the city’s hillsides, away from the crowds of the old city, with a stunning view of the town below. It also towers above one of the toniest shopping areas, the Zorlu Center, with top-drawer designers such as Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors and Tiffany & Co. – you can also find Stella McCartney’s first Turkish location here – at its ground-level plaza, which is also a draw for café culture vultures and foodies. Tables line the outdoor pavilion, and you can nosh on top chefs’ fare such as Mario Batali’s Eataly and Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian here. The shopping centre also features a subterranean mall, with offerings that include MAC Cosmetics, Mavi Jeans (a must-shop, this Turkish line of denim has an amazing fit), the largest H&M outlet in Turkey and Cos, a high street brand that you can’t find here in Canada – and the all important, fee-free currency exchange. There’s also the city’s Performing Arts Center, so there’s more incentive to spend the day – and the night, here.

When all is said and done, you return to Raffles. And stay, and eat. The lobby is a jewel-box in its own right; you enter into a light-filled space of bronzes, taupes and golds, and are welcomed to a seat at Lavinia, the sprawling lobby lounge – don’t forget to take tea here in the afternoon; it’s most civilized. Touches of Ottoman Empire and Modern European all collide beautifully here.

To the right of the reception desks, a grand staircase that takes you to the Writer’s Bar, and seen here, this location’s version of the storied Signature Long Bar, where on many nights you can take in live music or a DJ. It’s here, under twinkling chandeliers – their curvy shapes inspired by whirling dervishes – you can order the classic Singapore Sling, but why not go native? Pick something from the cocktail menu that reflects these Mediterranean-meets-Middle Eastern surroundings.

Right next door, follow the twinkling chandeliers, through the wine-cellar/champagne bar, naturally, to dinner at the Michelin-starred Spanish Chef Sergi Arola’s latest resto, a space that reflects the chef’s sleek, modern, yet at the same time warm aesthetic, for a feast of his award-winning tapas. And that staircase? It’s wrought from transparent materials that give it a floating feeling; you want to climb it. A stairway to cocktail and culinary heaven? We think so.

Speaking of elevating, the rooms are wonderfully spacious, with plenty of closet space for two and balconies that provide an outdoor respite. Order breakfast on your private terrace – and ask for a Bosphorus Strait-facing room, as it’s a rare place where you get this bird’s eye view of the waterway that divides European Istanbul from Asian Istanbul. Of course, there’s a hamam/spa and an indoor pool that invites taking a dip. To book: www.raffles.com/istanbul

For more on this cosmopolitan city, see the author’s Scenes from Istanbul