Where to stay in Istanbul

A modern hotel in the vibrant business distract of Istanbul and a historical gem in a 19th century palazzo.



Where is it?

The tenth Raffles hotel opened last year, with pop star Lady Gaga one of its first guests. Unusually, says Terry Richardson in The Daily Telegraph, the hotel is not located in the heart of the old city, or the entertainment quarter in Beyoglu, but instead in the "vibrant business district" of Besiktas, where it is an integral part of the Zorlu Centre, an upmarket shopping and entertainment complex. However, the old quarter is just a few stops away on the city's extensive metro system.

How they rate it

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There are 181 rooms, and even the most basic include "spacious terraces, walk-in closets, iPads with local info pre-loaded, free Wi-Fi, marble baths with rain showers and deep soaking tubs, and views," notes George Hobica in the New York Post. Better yet, a personal butler, who "is attentive without being obsequious", notes Richardson, is assigned to each room.

The menu

The Rocca Restaurant serves modern Turkish food, while the Arola Restaurant is run by Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola, who specialises in Spanish cuisine.

The cost

Doubles start from €385, room only. Visitraffles.com/istanbul, or call +90 212 924 0200.


Soho House

Where is it?

The setting for this, the latest club from Soho House, is "grand and in-your-face," says Tom Chesshyre in The Times. It's located in a 19th century palazzo, which was formerly the US embassy, on top of a hill in the Beyoglu district. The building is "next door to the Pera Palace Hotel, where Agatha Christie is said to have written much of Murder on the Orient Express".

How they rate it

The club's "no photos" policy has proved a draw for a range of celebrities since it opened earlier this year, from Jeremy Clarkson to Poldark heartthrob Aidan Turner. "The palazzo's renovated refinement pans from original frescoes to 1,000-crystal chandeliers," notes The Guardian. There's a private hammam and rooftop splashpool great for watching the sunset "as you cool off". There are 87 "tasteful, plush" rooms, most of which are "in an extraordinary new-build glass complex", says Chesshyre.

The menu

The food at Soho House's various restaurants is fresh, tasy and no-nonsense, but don't expect Michelin-style cooking: "like the dress code, meals are casual rather than fine dining", says Chesshyre.

The cost

Doubles from €195, room only. Visit sohohouseistanbul.com, or call +90 212 377 7100.


Where comfort and wilderness meet

If you like holidaying on the water, but are looking for something more intimate than a traditional cruise, then Aman Resorts may have the perfect holiday for you, notes John O'Ceallaigh in The Daily Telegraph. Take a diving and wildlife-spotting tour around Komodo or the Raja Ampat archipelago, on a luxury ship based on the phinisi a traditional Indonesian two-masted sail boat. The two boats Amanikan (pictured) and Amandira are based in the Moyo Island nature reserve, about an hour's flight from Bali, and can host 14 guests between them.

The cabins are air-conditioned, the bathrooms have separate showers, and "the master and deluxe cabins also feature private living areas with couch, coffee table and desk". (Expeditions from around £34,000 per couple; amanresorts.com.)

An even more adventurous option is to stay at Ibo Island Lodge, in Mozambique's Quirimbas archipelago. The hotel is on "the knife edge of where comfort and wilderness meet", notes Maria Shollenbarger in the Financial Times. Ibo is a "16th-century Portuguese colonial outpost on an ancient spice trade route", surrounded by "hundreds of endemic bird species, not to mention some of the best-preserved coral reefs on the east African coast". Guests can explore these on dhow "safaris" staying overnight in "modest tents on various islands with no electricity".

The dhows are not luxury berths but "things of simple beauty" the pleasure lies in enjoying the unspoiled surroundings in peace. (A seven-night dhow safari costs from $2,850 for four people. Visit iboisland.com; call +2721 785 2657).