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.
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