It was on an unseasonably warm November afternoon that I flew from London to Istanbul for a return visit to one of my most memorable destinations. As a teenager, twice I left Greece on sojourns where continents collide to acquiesce in the historical city of Istanbul. I remember standing in the old town quadrant of Sultanahmet mesmerized by the sights, sounds and smells of the ancient metropolis.
So close to Greece, yet completely different. I’m fond of saying that any journey begins with people. One thing that resonates throughout Turkey, as it does in Greece, is the kindness of its inhabitants who welcome you into their homes with open arms to experience and share local hospitality in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. There is something so genuine about how much the locals want to know about your life — as if they are hosts wishing to know about their visiting guests.
I love the great walking cities of the world — London, New York, Paris — and Istanbul distinctly fits the bill. Life exists on the streets. The aromatic smells permeating from Kabab houses’; the haunting sounds of the muezzin; and cries from the countless minarets throughout the citadel. I enjoy the banter and haggling with local merchants who peddle their wares at the Grand Bazaar and on other lively grounds around town. No matter where you turn in Istanbul, there is life on its electrifying streets.
My memorable visit to the Bosphorus (also spelled Bosporus) city had as much to do with Swissotel The Bosphorus, Istanbul (a property that a fellow writing traveler mentioned had the views in town) as the crossroads destination itself.
Opening my taxi cab door, I am greeted by two dapper doormen dressed to the nines who immediately guide me to the massive ground floor lobby area. The enormous marble lobby lounge and bar area welcomes guests with a jaw-dropping panoramic perspective of the Bosphorus, proving that this cutting edge accommodation is impressive from the start.
A member of the Leading Hotels of the World and awarded Europe Luxury Hotel 2013 by World Luxury Hotel Awards, Swissotel The Bosphorus, Istanbul is a five-star luxury hotel situated at the center of Istanbul, on the European banks of the Bosphorus. It offers 566 guest rooms and suites, featuring state-of-the-art technology and exclusive amenities.
Nestled within 65 acres of historical gardens, and located next to the world-class shopping district of Nishant, it is easy to see why the property is a favorite among visitors to the historic city. The vibrant nightlife and energy of Taksim Square are a stone’s throw away. Istanbul’s historic area of the Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque are within easy walking distance, allowing the layers of the ancient civilization to unfold right before your very eyes.
Down the hill from the Swissotel, the Strait of Bosphorus is a ten-minute stroll away. And while comprehending your true location in the historic Byzantine city can be difficult to fully fathom, it is equally interesting once you do — sipping cocktails in Europe and glancing at Asia out your window.
The Swissotel has a unique Chalet restaurant for a perfect Swiss dining experience. The 100-year old chalet was imported from Switzerland and provides a cozy Swiss Alps ambiance and serves excellent a la carte selections for lunch and dinner. The lounge/bar area in the lobby also provides light snacks and refreshments while you are serenaded by the live entertainment of the evening.
The Gaja Roof and Sky restaurant are open in the afternoons and evenings during the summer season only, giving you the perfect opportunity to enjoy 360 views of Istanbul. The immaculate urban bearings cater to business travelers, families and leisure travelers. The melting pot of guests come to spend warm summer nights mingling at the rooftop Gaia Bar & Restaurant.
But perhaps the culminating acumen for a stay at the Swissotel Bosphorus is the breakfast at Café Swiss restaurant. A feast created with endless options including both Turkish delicacies and continental breakfast choices. The stately chefs draped in white prepare meals in an open kitchen from omelets to the Turkish Menemen eggs (a Turkish style scrambled eggs softly cooked with onions, peppers, paprika and oregano).
And don’t miss the award-winning Amrita Spa & Wellness. The awarded spa, a member of ‘Leading Spa of the World,’ will replenish your mind, body and spirit. Relax in the Hamman, indoor swimming pool, and sauna. The fully equipped gym offers state of the art work out equipment so there are no excuses to not work out and make the most of the property.
You live like an Ottoman Sultan when you stay at Swissotel The Bosphorus, Istanbul.