Istanbul Travel Guide
The answer to our question when Philippe Starck’s yoo Hotels would make its debut is here: January 2014. Just last week, yoo2 Taksim Square opened the doors to its 59 rooms and suites in the heart of Istanbul, across from Gezi Park.
Yoo2 is the more affordable of two yoo Hotel brands, with yoo Collection aimed at the luxury market. While we heard last year that Acqua Boracay in the Philippines would be the first yoo Collection hotel to open (in 2015), it is not listed in the directory of upcoming hotels, though a separate website is very much up and running. Additional projects include will include yoo Collection Lepang, Bali, yoo Collection in the British Cotswolds, and yoo2 Sinapati, Jakarta - all scheduled for 2016.
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With plenty of new hotels heating up the scene in Turkey (Fairmont, Nikki Beach Resort, Four Seasons, to name but a few), it's no surprise that Shangri-La's shrewd crew of hotel planners wanted to plant their flag as well.
Over the weekend, the gorgeous Shangri-La Bosphorus officially opened its doors, with 186 guest rooms, a spa, and a three-story dome-shaped atrium capped with a skylight as well as a "massive Bohemian chandelier that rains crystals for two storeys." Oh, those Turks.
Fairmont announced this week that its first location in Istanbul, the Fairmont Quasar, will open in 2016 as part of a mixed development complex in the Sisli District (near the Trump Towers). Two 41-story towers will house the 210-room hotel along with leisure, commercial, and residential units, including four stories of office space and luxury retail at the base of the complex.
Both the hotel and the residences will be managed by Fairmont Hotel and Resorts, and the owners will be awarded VIP status and privileges at Fairmont properties around the world as an extra perk of ownership. For leisure guests, the hotel will feature a Fairmont Gold club level, several restaurants, 2,000 square meters of function space, and a Willow Stream Spa.
The Fairmont Quasar is the most recent project to be announced by the brand in the Black Sea region, joining the recently opened Fairmont Kyiv in Ukraine, the Fairmont Baku in Azerbaijan (opening spring 2013) and the Fairmont Pekin in Moscow (opening 2016).
The bulk of Shangri-La’s proliferating hotel portfolio might be in China (54 locations and counting), but this year will see two major openings in Europe, tripling the group’s presence on the continent, which currently is limited to Paris. A lot of the attention is going to the much-hyped Shangri-La at the Shard, but if all goes as planned, Istanbul will beat London to the punch with the arrival of the Shangri-La Bosphorus in May .
Right on the edge of the Bosphorus strait, on the European side of the city, the hotel is housed in a former tobacco factory and warehouse from the 1930s. How do you fit 186 of the city’s most spacious guest rooms and all the luxury facilities of a Shangri-La hotel into an historic seven-story building while protecting its landmark facade? You go underground, digging a hole seven stories deep (or six, depending on where you look on the hotel’s website; we hope they’re not still figuring that one out).
The new Hilton will be close to this museum
Something’s going on in Turkey these days, with hotels announcing openings every month (or so it seems...). Now, Hilton Worldwide has announced that a new Hilton will be opening in Istanbul in 2013 around the the late summer/early fall period.
The Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel & Conference Center is, right now, set to be the largest hotel in this bustling city with 829 rooms. 829! That’s a lot of heads on beds for a city that’s not Vegas.
Still, Hilton is strategically opening up properties in the area. The Hilton Istanbul Bomonti will be their sixth hotel in Turkey, with the most recent hotel opening being their first ever dual branded property –- the Hilton Bursa Hotel & Convention Center and Hampton by Hilton Bursa.
No, it’s not, and more than that, it’s a treatment that challenges your sense of personal space.
But let’s start at the beginning. During our recent trip to Istanbul this year, it seemed that it would almost be a crime to not have a Turkish hamam in Turkey. So we headed to the Amrita Spa at the five-star Swissotel The Bosphorus hotel.
With a health club and indoor pool attached, we knew that this spa was a good choice because it was filled with locals as well as tourists. There was already a good vibe at the check-in counter, where you could see a dimly-lit pool within the inner sanctum of the spa. With our escort, we walked deeper inside until we reached the changing room with all its many amenities: showers, sauna, private rooms, etc. Once we were wrapped in our towels for modesty’s sake and ushered into the hamam, our coverings were removed and modesty was now forever damned. This was the exact point when the hamam experience became interesting.
There are some pretty swanky hotels found across this great big world, and Swissôtel Living in Istanbul is definitely one of them.
Swissôtel chose to launch their new extended stay concept hotel in cosmopolitan Istanbul, whose vibrant history is engraved in its culture. But as important as its traditions still are, Istanbul is definitely not a city stuck in the past, as evidenced by the makeover of this former residence and office rental building. Before the company took over the management of the property, located right beside its five-star Swissôtel The Bosphorus, the place was badly in need of a reno. After a top-to-bottom gut a la Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, it opened as the über-modern and luxe Swissôtel Living.
Over on Jaunted, you can get our inside looks at some of the world’s best airline lounges, so we thought we’d do something similar here and start talking about some of the hotel lounges we’ve frequented lately for our series on Hotel Club Lounges. Today, HotelChatter contributor Eric Rosen takes us along with him to the Club Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton Istanbul.
Though the regular service at an upscale property like the Ritz-Carlton Istanbul is often impeccable, getting a Club Level room here confers a host of added benefits and perks. The hotel has dedicated Club Level floors on the 11, 12 and 14 stories, but guests staying in rooms on other floors can also obtain club access for a premium fee added onto the room rate (about 65 euros per day, from what we can tell from the online reservations system).
Last week, HotelChatter Special Contributor Eric Rosen explored the historic back alleys of Istanbul and checked out the Edition Istanbul, a mysterious property which we've only heard about from afar. It's also currently the only Edition Hotel in the world.
The 78 rooms at the Edition Istanbul were designed by Gabellini Shepherd Architects in two different palettes: a soothing milky “Soaped Oak,” and the richer, more masculine “Dark Rosewood,” which is what this room on the 7th floor was.
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A Viceroy will be in these parts soon.
Fresh after adding Cassa New York to their collection and seeing the departure of president Nicholas Clayton to Jumeirah Hotels, Viceroy Hotel Group has just announced the Viceroy Istanbul will open in 2013, a year earlier than we expected.
The hotel will be a part of the rising Nef Bebeköy Development.
Spread across ten separate buildings and over 16 acres of land, offering 58 guest accommodations, Viceroy Istanbul will boast spectacular panoramic views of the Bosphorus, the strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia, and direct access to a tranquil outdoor garden and forest area. The property will offer guests and residence luxury services including a casual and signature restaurant, banquet and meeting facilities, an outdoor art gallery, and a state-of-the-art full service fitness center and spa.
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UPDATE: Turns out that the color scheme in the two photos is totally different for a reason! There are two color schemes available to the rooms: Dark Rosewood (the dark one, pictured above) and Soaped Oak - the lighter color, visible in the renderings. For new pictures of both color schemes, see after the jump.
It’s heeeeere! We’ve spent every day of the last three weeks scouring Edition Hotels’ Facebook page and website to see whether they’d put up rooms of the Edition Istanbul, and although there’s still no joy on either count, we now have our hands on the very first picture of a room. Time to play a game of 'Is It Anything Like The Renderings?'!
The good news? In size and style, it looks almost exactly like these pictures of what the rooms were meant to be like, apart from one small thing – the color scheme is totally different! It’s gone from a cool ash color on the walls and floor to a much warmer, redder wood. And even the lamps floating from the ceiling have morphed from a silvery bronze to a gold color. At the time, don’t forget, we were told that:
Designed in conjunction with Gabellini Shepherd architects, the Istanbul Edition aimed for "quiet elegance" and "modern luxury" by using a color palate of bronze and silver-gold, with extensive use of pale and dark woods.
Unless the color balance has been touched up beyond recognition, we don’t see any of that pale wood. Not even on the ceiling.
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Ah, there’s nothing quite like intrigue and confusion to get us all excited over a hotel opening. And an early opening? That gets us even more aflutter.
But, no sooner did we see that news, than we had an email from Edition’s PRs telling us that the hotel did not soft open today, and that the online reports were inaccurate. They told us that:
The hotel will soft open soon with the official launch in March/April.
So we called the hotel to clarify and spoke to a charming gentleman who told us that no, the hotel didn’t open today. But, yes, it’s opening soon – very soon. In fact, it’s opening tomorrow.