- What’s On
The Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, the only Ottoman imperial palace and hotel on the Bosphorus, offers the ultimate in luxury and elegance with 313 rooms, including 20 suites in the hotel building and 11 in the palace. It is ideally located on the European shore, looking across to the old city. Its facilities are luxurious, its cuisine award-winning cuisine, and its outdoor heated infinity pool by the Bosphorus, is unique.
The fully-equipped spa features an authentic Turkish hamam, massage and treatment rooms, sauna, Jacuzzi, fitness centre and indoor pool.
A writer’s view, by Andrew Finkel
If you wanted a crash course on movers and shakers in Istanbul you could do worse than to take a seat in the lobby of the Çırağan Palace Kempinski. It is host to any number of important events, from board meetings to inter-governmental conferences, and the world with its accompanying press-corps spins regularly through the revolving doors. One half of the hotel really is a palace, the painstaking reconstruction of the 19th-century home to Sultan Abdülaziz, and a fine example of the Venetian-Turkish Baroque style of the Balyan family of architects. Most of the rooms and some of the facilities are in the adjacent modern annex that is a mirror image of the palace, but this, too, has a palatial feel. The rooms are large, furnished with Ottoman-style fabrics and details, but refreshingly unfussy. And of course, the Bosphorus side of the hotel commands regal views of the water, including the portico through which the Sultan would board his longboat. A new fish restaurant has just opened in the garden of the modern wing; and Istanbul’s grandest ballroom and a recherché Ottoman restaurant are housed in the actual palace, where there is a handful of exclusive suites accessed separately from the hotel, where guests fussed over by the palace butler. A splendid infinity pool allows you to feel you are doing laps on the Bosphorus. A place to feel important but also comfortable.
Do you remember Ratty’s advice to Mole in ‘Wind in the Willows’? ‘There is absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.’ It makes you wonder if he has been to Istanbul. This city was built for boating. Perched between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, it straddles the dramatic flooded valley which connects them, The Bosphorus.
Viewed from any of its seven hills, the labyrinthine maze of Istanbul comes to an abrupt halt at the water’s edge, giving way to a watery playground for seadogs, fishermen, commuters and tourists.
Despite the staggered fleet fo vast container ships on the Marmara and the ferries on Istanbul’s natural harbour, The Golden Horn, it is on the Bosphorus that boating reaches its chaotic peak. At dawn, when the rest of the city wakes to the echoing of a hundred calls to prayer, the ferries try out a first tentative blast of the horn.