Istanbul’s heart, the Bosporus Strait, snakes through the metropolis and splits Asia from Europe. Away from the central city hubbub, A’jia sits tucked into the upper Bosporus shoreline with panoramic views across this watery highway. Guests staying here dip their toes into a waterfront world once reserved as a summer haunt for the sultan’s family and high-ranking members of the Ottoman court. Built in 1897, this yalı (waterfront mansion) was home to Ahmet Rasim Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Tripoli. The sensitive conversion in 2005 preserved the bones of the original, ornately-flourished architectural style while transforming the interiors into spaces soaked in a white-on-white palette that draw guests’ eyes directly to the stunning Bosporus.
High-ceilinged rooms are flooded with light and dominated by oversized beds with Italian linens. Bathrooms are outfitted with Philippe Starck fixtures and fragrant bath products by Acqua di Parma that encourage long soaks in bathtubs with a view.
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Once the summer stomping ground of the sultan’s court, Kanlıca is on the upper Asian side of the Bosporus and is speckled with grand mansions once owned by the Ottoman elite. A prime example of this regal history is Khedive Palace (Hidiv Kasrı), the Italianate former residence of Khedive Abbas II of Egypt, only a short stroll from the hotel. Today Kanlıca is known for its thick yogurt, best eaten the local way with a hearty dollop of icing served on top. Walk up to the waterfront cafés at Kanlıca ferry dock to indulge in this creamy treat.
Need to Know
Rooms: 16 in total. Deluxe rooms from $315, suites from $490. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The modern Turkish menu at A’jia Restaurant is a medley of Mediterranean flavors that cherry-picks elements from Turkish, Greek, Middle Eastern, and Italian cuisines to create fresh takes on Turkish dishes such as stuffed zucchini-blossoms and Ottoman lamb shank. The elegantly non-fussy interior, doused in chocolate and coffee shades, allows the knock-'em-dead Bosporus views to really shine. Spa and gym details: Although A’jia doesn’t have a spa, guests can soothe jet-lagged joints and sightseeing-weary legs with an in-room Thai massage.
Who’s it for: History-loving romantics looking for a peaceful retreat. Our favorite rooms: The Pasha Room is the most romantic. Its balcony, right over the Bosporus, gives guests a private platform to soak up those waterway views. Hop aboard: A private boat service whisks guests to the European shore, where ferries chug to historic Sultanahmet with its minaret-scattered skyline. Afterward, guests can stretch out on the Bosporus-facing sundeck and sample a slice of waterside life that the Ottoman elite long kept to themselves.