Opulent Istanbul

It is evening as I sit by the azure pool of the Çırağan Palace and I imagine this is how the Sultans from the past might have enjoyed their evenings. The present day Turks, are similar to their Ottoman forefathers, they live and love luxury. So if you want the crème-de-la-crème of luxury travel in Istanbul, then look no further then these spots I have lined up for you. Rub shoulders with celebrities, politicians, artists and the well heeled who come out to play in this city, which interestingly enough has one of the highest numbers of billionaires in the world.

 

A slice of opulence – eating out

International Cuisine

 

Sunset Grill and Bar

If you’ve ever wondered how it is to dine on an expensive piece of art, you have come to the right place. For those lucky enough, once you finish your sumptuous meal you’ll see the art of acclaimed Turkish contemporary artist Burhan Doğançay right there on your plate! And vying for your attention will also be the stunning views of the Bosphorus.

Click HERE and enjoy my previous post about this place.

 

Mikla

Mikla is chic; it’s the old and the contemporary all rolled into one. It’s an idea, born forth from rethinking the Anatolian kitchen. So think of rare ingredients from villages far flung, of old cooking techniques – all given its place in the modern times. Speaking of going back to the roots Mikla’s delightful Turkish-Scandinavian menu nods to the owner’s heritage.

 

Spago by Wolfgang Puck at St. Regis

Share a meal with Leonardo DiCaprio or well, the chef who caters to Hollywood’s royalty at the Academy Awards – it’s none other than Wolfgang Puck, chef extraordinaire who has brought his signature brand to Istanbul. And here you’ll find tasteful luxury that exudes from its interiors, the cuisine and all perfectly complemented against the stunning backdrop of the city.

 

Aqua Four Seasons

Enjoy views of the blue waters of the Bosphorus with some blues playing in the background at Aqua. And top up that with exquisite food from chef Sebastiano Spriveri’s twist on Mediterranean and Turkish classics, alfresco style.

 

Ioki Sushi

Ioki is a meeting of the occident and the orient in a rather rare manner. As connoisseurs of sushi will find out and relish – this most innovative fusion of Japanese, Turkish, and Peruvian culinary arts.

 

Turkish delights

 Turkish Cuisine

 

Tuğra Restaurant

The word Tuğraa describes the Ottoman’s Sultans’ elegant calligraphic signature and it’s incorporated in the fine dinnerware of the restaurant. Not only that, the menu borrows from historic recipe archives of places like the Topkapi palace. And when you dine here you feel every inch a royal.

 

Borsa Restaurant

Istanbul’s iconic Borsa restaurant is where the who’s who have been coming for the authentic Turkish dining experience since 1927. What’s more, the menu has never stayed the same since then, with the regular addition of new innovative dishes.

 

Yeniköy Kaşıbeyaz Bosphorus

Yeniköy is arguably one of the top spots for the best meat in town. It holds sway over the city with its choice location along the seaside, organic food and classical meat dishes.

 

Park Fora (seafood)

Surround yourself with the blues of the Bosphorus and the greens of the Kuruçeşme Park when you dine here. Seafood aficionados will appreciate this elegantly designed restaurant that offer the freshest catch of the day with an ever-innovative menu.

 

Suda Kebab

Island dining between 2 continents is where it’s at – Suda Kebab is a great place for meat lovers, has unbeatable views and is also easy on your pocket. Highly recommended for summer visits.

 

Laps of luxury – poolside

 

For the ultimate splurge – Çırağan Palace Kempinski

Plunge into luxury in the sparkling pool of this former Ottoman Palace all year round. Why should summer have all the fun right? Enjoy the heated infinity pool in the wintertime where it has been said that you feel like you are floating on the Bosphorus.

 

Man-made island in the Bosporus: Suada Club

A boat ride. An island. 360 degree views of two continents. Chic cabanas. Seawater filled pools. You can go to t by the Sea Taxi , and it is very easy on your pocket.  There is such a thing as having it all after all.

 

The bohemian high life: Soho House Istanbul

This is as exclusive as it gets. It’s a membership only place for artistic minds to mingle and invigorate with 87 unique rooms, a cowshed spa and two rooftop pools.

 

The Marmara Taksim Hotel

Unparalleled location in the heart of the business district, the fashionable Marmara Taksim hotel has an outdoor pool deck and spa with a Turkish hammam.

 

Sun and fun with the glitterati: Les Ottomans

One of the poshest hotels in the city, it is popular with international stars and boasts the only Vinotherapie spa in the country.

 

Clink flutes – drinking

 

Petit “O” Bar St. Regis

Experience art from the internationally acclaimed Turkish artist Bedri Baykam and take a swig of a Misty Mary, a twist on the Bloody Mary with the flavours of Anatolia and Istanbul in a glass.

 

Mandoline Terrace at Soho house Istanbul

If you fancy a drink at this former US consulate, it’s a really hip spot where the traditional meets the modern and easily one of the most charming places for a sundowner.

 

Mikla (Rooftop bar)

Mikla will always leave a lasting impression – its chic minimalism, great music, bountiful scented greens will make you crave for more. Not to forget magnificent 360 degree views that make you feel on top of the world.

 

Sunset grill and bar (Cocktail area)

A hotspot for business people closing deals and to unwind thereafter, the Sunset bar ticks all the right boxes. The ambience is stellar and you can enjoy a drink inside or outside the cocktail area.

 

La Mancha (Lounge)

Soak up the view and a cocktail at this popular bar in the Kuruçeşme district. Plus the bartenders mixing the cocktails are a treat to watch.

 

Meet the glitterati – nightlife

Ulus 29

Celebrity DJs are a regular fixture at Ulus29, from U2’s official DJ Matteo to DJ Sam Young. And not only the sound but you’ll also find one of the best views of Istanbul and of the jet set here.


After Sunset @ Sunset Grill & Bar

Best spot to mingle with upscale singles and for some terrific live music. The beautiful view of the skyline adds to the magical night ambience, especially on full moon nights.

 

Sortie

Open 12 months of the year, Sortie hosts 7 restaurants that will satisfy every craving. It’s also the perfect place to let your hair down and dance the night away.

 

Anjelique

A favourite with the jet set and model crowd, Anjelique is simplicity and pure class combined. The angled mirror designs of Mahmut Anlar seem to offer a different view of the Bosphorus from the inside.

 

Reina (closed since the attack in January 2017)

By now everyone has heard of the attack and sadlythe place is closed , however, it was my best night spot in the city. You would probably bump into Paris Hilton, Uma Thurman or Kevin Costner in this celebrity hotspot while dancing the night away and sipping on your cocktail. The queues are long but oh-so-worth-it.

 

The Morning after – Breakfast and Coffee

Lokma

Jumpstart your day with the best of Turkish and world-cuisine at this gorgeous spot in the Rumelian Fortress area.

 

The House Cafe

The House Cafe restaurants have been designed by the award-winning Autoban Design Office and are a favourite haunt of Istanbulites. Blending contemporary, traditional and industrial elements, these trendy spots never go out of style.

 

Kale Rumeli Hisari

The iconic Anthony Bourdain featured this cozy little spot in his show ‘No Reservations’. And the show did it justice, it might be mid-range but their breakfast is anything but and is one of the absolute best.

Click HERE and enjoy my previous post about this place.

Lucca

Famed for its 10.00 AM to 02.00 AM meals and music (their Brunch is special), dining in Lucca feels like hanging out at your cool friend’s stylish place. Fill up on the stunning view of Bebek and great lively bar scene.


Hudson

Start being in many Istanbulites books, Hudson attracts the high society in droves. It has a lively beat in the night but becomes a quieter spot for that perfect brunch in the day. It’s located in the posh district of Bebek.

Click HERE and enjoy my previous post about this place.

 

The hotels listed below offer a great breakfast spread but I also love to try different restaurants and cafes in the city.

 

Luxe abodes – Hotels

 

These hotels offer not only the best night’s sleep but also its luxurious facilities, restaurants and gardens will refresh your senses. Head there for a quick cocktail or hookah, or a pampering massage and I guarantee you that it will be an unforgettable experience.

 

Four Seasons Sultan Ahmet (Ottoman design)

This neoclassical building was once a Turkish prison but it’s been so beautifully converted that you never want to leave. It is the perfect mix of old world charm and modern amenities. Plus its location is just perfect; it’s at the heart of the city and offers views of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

 

Four Seasons Bosphorus

 

Çırağan Palace Kempinski

This converted Ottoman palace is the only Luxury Imperial Palace Hotel in Turkey and also the only one accessible by car, yacht and helicopter. How is that for exclusivity?

 

St. Regis (modern design)

Every niche of this world-class hotel has been carefully thought out – it’s inspired living, taken form. There are many features to rave about, however I would like to highlight the exquisitely designed Bentley suite of which only 2 exists in the world.

 

Shangri-La

Converted form a former 1930s tobacco warehouse, Shangri-La is luxurious to a T and has an enviable location next to the famous Dolmabahçe Palace right by the water.

 

The Raffles

This modern beauty sits right at the hub of all major districts in Istanbul. It hosts the famed restaurant Arola where the Michelin starred chef Sergi Arola spins out amazing fare. Not to be missed.

 

Les Ottomans

Very few seaside mansions or Yali’s, remain in Istanbul and one of them has been converted into the very chic boutique hotel – Les Ottomans. It features only 10 suites and is a favourite with celebrities. Head here when you want to get away from the bustle of the city.

 

 

#Travelwithjam if you visited any of these places 🙂

 

Love ,

 

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Discovering a New Side of New York

 

While avid travelers like me are always looking for new destinations to explore, I also find great pleasure in returning to cities I’ve visited before. It gives me the chance to dig my heels into the local culture, and allows me more time to go off the beaten path. My latest visit to New York City was a great reminder of why great cities deserve multiple trips.

Spending time in New York during the winter allowed me to see another side of this bustling metropolis: while the cold weather can be a bit of a challenge, the streets are less crowded than in the hot summer months, and I had the chance to see new sides of the city. Although I arrived after the holidays, I was still able to soak up some of the lingering holiday vibes, from the warm glow of Christmas lights to the sight of people cheerfully gliding across ice rinks.

 

A Winter Wonderland

Even in the coldest months of the year, New York’s parks and green spaces provided beautiful oases of calm and inspiration. I absolutely love the great outdoors and, perhaps surprisingly, New York City is filled with parks, gardens, and greenery at every turn. Places like Central Park, Madison Square Park, and Bryant Park allow you to reconnect with nature in the midst of one of the largest cities in the world. That said, perhaps two of the most unique parks in NYC are the High Line and Lowline parks. The High Line Park is an elevate green space built along an old railroad track. Stretch from the Hudson Yards to Chelsea, this green space provides a surreal view of surrounding neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the Lowline Park is the world’s first underground park, built inside an abandoned trolley terminal. I’m absolutely in awe of the creative ways New Yorkers find to incorporate greenery into their lives!

 

Unrivalled Cultural Diversity

During my latest visit, I explored new places that I hadn’t had the chance to see my first time around. New York is one of the most culturally rich places in the world, so I made sure to soak up all the art and culture I could get my hands on. To start, I spent more time getting to know Chinatown, which is one of the city’s most authentic and down-to-earth neighborhoods. While there, I enjoyed an incredible meal at the Nom Wah Tea Parlor. This charming dim sum restaurant has been around since 1920, and serves up some of the tastiest Chinese food around.

 

 

Art Enthusiasts, Rejoice!

NYC is also home to some of the best museums on Earth, and a visit to the incredible Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was on my agenda this time around. The museum gets quite busy, so I highly recommend getting there as early as possible. In keeping with my desire to embrace the city’s artistic and cultural offerings, I also attended a performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Metropolitan Opera. The opera house is exceptionally beautiful, and the performance was so moving and surreal.

 

   

 

Local Life and Stylish Living

Of course, one of the highlights of this trip to New York was spending time with locals and getting a feel for life in the Big Apple. Hanging out on rooftops, visiting the public library, walking across the Brooklyn bridge, enjoying luxurious lunches and tea times in hotels like the St. Regis, the Ritz-Carlton, Baccarat Hotel, and the Algonquin… it’s this diversity of experiences that really sums up New York life.

 

When one of my local friends suggested we take a trip to the Meatpacking district, I was surprised and delighted to find a neighborhood filled with style and glamour. This area is teeming with chic cafes and restaurants, charming art galleries, trendy boutiques, and some of the hottest bars in the city. If you make your way to the Meatpacking district, don’t forget to pay a visit to the Whitney Museum of American Art; it’s breathtaking.

There’s really no telling where a day in New York City might take you: just be sure to dress stylishly and be prepared for whatever this incredible metropolis throws your way!

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