Raffles Istanbul harnesses Istanbul’s entrepôt heritage to the city’s vibrant, present-day spirit with interiors that celebrate both the past and the present. The vast lobby features abstract sculptures, Turkish ceramic tilework, and artist Çetin Paksoy’s specially commissioned glass-mosaic doors. Generously sized rooms, doused in hazy blues and grays, open out onto private terraces framed by floor-to-ceiling glass. In-room tablets offer touch-of-a-button fixture control and in-room ordering, while the renowned Raffles 24-hour butler service fulfills more personalized needs.
Istanbul’s jet-setters down signature cocktails, including Raffles’ famous Singapore Sling, in the Long Bar, while guests seeking a quiet drink settle into the leather tub chairs at the Writers Bar. The tapas-style plates of Arola Restaurant are putting Raffles Istanbul on the map for trendsetting foodies, while Lounge 6 puts Istanbul’s vibrant live music scene within steps of a guestroom during summer months.
Connected to the high-end retail hub of the Zorlu Center, where Bulgari and Louis Vuitton both have their boutiques, Raffles Istanbul has top dining and shopping on its doorstep. Yet its position, overlooking the Bosporus high on the hill above Beşiktaş, is removed from the hustle of the center.
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The upscale development of the Zorlu Center places Turkey’s premier fashion houses right outside the hotel door. These are a swag of high-end international retail brands, and renowned dining names including Jamie Oliver and Tom Aikens. Down the hill is the Beşiktaş neighborhood. The shoreline beside the Bosporus is scattered with the old Ottoman palaces and pleasure gardens of the sultans, with the ornate late-Ottoman palace of Dolmabahçe regally lording it up over the waterway. Although the hotel lies a little outside the central city, there are good transportation links to both Taksim and across the Bosporus Strait to the Asian side of the city, so guests can easily access Istanbul’s other neighborhoods.
Need to Know
Rooms: 181 in total. Deluxe from $320, Premier from $340, Signature from $435, and suites from $685. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Under the creative direction of Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola, Arola Restaurant (7 to 11.30 p.m.) focuses on Spanish-style tapas and small-plates dining. Rocca Restaurant (open noon to 11 p.m.) takes traditional Turkish cuisine and gives it a contemporary twist, hauling Ottoman classics into the modern age. For casual grazing on Turkish mezze, the Pool Bar & Grill (open during summer) offers outdoor dining with panoramic cityscape views. Spa and gym details: An ice fountain, three traditional Turkish baths, and a range of pampering treatments using products by Gazelli and the Organic Pharmacy provide relaxing and rejuvenating treats at the Raffles Spa (open 6:30 a.m.–11 p.m.). With panoramic views, the outdoor pool (open during summer) allows sightseeing between laps, while the indoor pool is open year-round. The fully equipped health center offers a yoga and Pilates studio as well as personal trainers.
Who’s it for: Serious luxury travelers and shopaholics. Our favorite rooms: The higher the floor, the better the jaw-dropping city views. Book a Signature Room for views of the Bosporus Bridge. Plan ahead: For spa packages or treatments, book directly with the Raffles Spa, as far in advance as possible; 24 hours’ notice is usually enough to avoid disappointment.
Luxury and an Amazing Location at the new Raffles Istanbul
Outside of sleeping in Istanbul’s iconic Grand Bazaar, the new Raffles is as close as one can get to the city’s great shopping: The lobby connects to the Zorlu Center, a 1-million-square-foot complex with everything from the Italian food hall Eataly to the Turkish boutique Yargici. As for the 132 rooms and 49 suites, each features art inspired by the Byzantine empire and terraces overlooking the city. Also, not to be missed: the spa’s gorgeous hammam.
This appeared in the November/December 2014 issue.