One of the world’s iconic hotels, the Pera Palace first swung open its doors in 1892 and has been a meeting point for travelers in the city for more than 100 years. Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie clicked at their typewriters in the guest rooms, Greta Garbo once wafted through the sumptuous lounge, and Alfred Hitchcock drew inspiration for his films while staying here. The neo-Baroque interior was created by legendary French-Ottoman architect Alexander Vallaury, and luscious jewel-toned Turkish carpets and grand chandeliers immerse guests in the glamour of a bygone age as soon as they step through the front door. The original antique elevator still trundles guests to their rooms, where Old World furniture, classically inspired burgundy textiles, and decadent roll-top baths provide oodles of 19th-century elegance.
Once the must-stay for adventurers on the Orient Express, the Pera Palace is a timeless grande dame of the golden age of travel and is as much a part of the fabric of Istanbul’s history as are the city’s monuments.
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In the golden age of the Ottomans, the Pera neighborhood in Beyoğlu converged with European merchants, travelers, and adventurers. Today this cosmopolitan ambience remains, with plenty of great dining and a lively café culture. The Pera Museum and the vibrant shopping street of İstiklal Caddesi are a few minutes' stroll from the hotel door, while the Galata Tower is a 10-minute walk down the hill. The best of both old and new Istanbul is all within easy reach of this central location, with the sights of old Constantinople in Sultanahmet easily accessed by a short tram-hop.
Need to Know
Rooms: 115 in total. Rooms from $196-305, suites from $340. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Afternoon tea in the Kubbeli Saloon Tea Lounge (open 7:30 a.m.–11 p.m.) is an Istanbul institution. Feast on scones and sip Earl Grey, or opt for a teapot cocktail such as the Greta Garbo (whiskey, mint liqueur, and mint tea). In the Agatha Restaurant (open noon–11 p.m.), the chef riffs on the Pera’s place in history and fuses classic Ottoman dishes with culinary traditions of the countries passed through on the old Orient Express. After dinner, guests can follow in Ernest Hemingway’s footsteps and head to the plush burgundy interior of the Orient Bar (open 4 p.m.–2 a.m.) for nightcaps. Spa and gym details: Guests relax with Ayurveda treatments and Balinese massages in the ultra-modern Pera Palace Spa (open 7:30 a.m.–10 p.m.). The Health Club (open 7:30 a.m.–10 p.m.) is home to an indoor jet-streamed swimming pool and a fully equipped gym.
Who’s it for: History fans wanting the glamour of an Old World ambience. Our favorite rooms: Room 411 (the Agatha Christie Room) is hard to resist, whether you’re a die-hard fan of the novelist or not. This is where Agatha wrote much of Murder on the Orient Express. For history buffs: Room 101 is where Atatürk (modern Turkey’s founding father) often stayed. Today the room has been turned into a private museum, with a collection of his personal effects. Guests can speak to reception to arrange a viewing.