Turkey is THE destination right now. While the economy in Turkey is running well above its European neighbors, the dollar to Turkish Lira and prices still make it a top travel stop. One can splurge here without spending a ridiculous sum especially on sumptuous accommodations and spectacular dining out. There are two must stops (as well as many others) and I found the perfect hotels to commend to the particular traveler in each.
Istanbul is a special city. Bustling, modern in thinking but traditional in architecture, and embraced and kissed by the blue sea water, it is a must visit. And when one does visit, a perfect stop is the Witt Istanbul Hotel (www.wittistanbul.com). Witt is a wow! Perfectly located in the Cihangir neighborhood with 18 designer rooms it is within walking distance of Taksim Square, Beyoglu, Galata and a walk and ferry over to the Asian side in charming Kadakoy. A short walk and tram takes in the history of the Sultanhamet neighborhood with the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque), Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. All one needs is just a few steps away from the Witt (ok and a hill to climb upon return to the hotel, but after all that wonderful Turkish dining that isn’t a bad thing).
For me, the most special thing about Istanbul is that it is a roof top and terrace lovers city. There is a view pretty much from every place you may want to wine, dine or rest. And the best of these may well be from my room’s terrace at the Witt. The Witt won many design awards as it was converted a couple of years ago from an apartment building into an Art Hotel. The hotel takes pride in its service and comfort and while it is not overtly sumptuous in the way of a high end plush hotel it is also a far cry from the “Ikea-lite” aesthetic so favored in many “boutique hotels.” The view from the room
(Room 62 and yes I would ask for it again and again) is breathtaking. It takes in the Golden Horn from Topkapi Palace through both of the “sister” Mosques (Blue and Sophia). It was hard to pull away from the terrace and honestly I think I lingered there and in the room more than a usual amount to simply drink in the view.
Dining in Istanbul is a treat too and there are many outdoor terrace restaurants to enjoy the delights of Turkey (as opposed to Turkish Delight which isn’t bad either) both on the table and in the panoramic view. My friend and I enjoyed a beautiful meal outdoors at Mimolet, a snug and cosy meal at Anatolie (amazing food) and most fun and world class dining at Ciya Sofrasi over on the Asian side in Kadakoy. Best of all is the route to get there. A 15 minute walk and then 20 minute ferry at 2 Turkish Lira beats the “Bosporus Tourist cruises” and you get the same sights. The restaurant is a marvel (renowned throughout the foodie world) with an all Ottoman and Anatolian menu.
Rooms with a view aren’t limited to Istanbul either as I found out on a stop in Izmir (Turkey’s third largest city and a neighbor of the mind-blowing ruins of Ephesus and the ridiculous beauty of the coast between Kusadasi to Bodrum. The most jaw dropping of views may well be from the terraces of what may become a must-return hotel, the Gullu Konak Otelcilik in Selcuk. We were taken there for lunch by our guide for Ephesus and lingered for nearly 3 and 1/2 hours over great food, wine and conversation. The hotel is both rustic and hip with a lounge vibe that comes without effort. The views of the mountains, terraced with olive trees and vines, is near perfection. And the ruins, sights and coast are a blink away. I can’t wait to return and make this a hub for a longer coastal Turkish holiday.
Turkey should be on every travelers mind right now. Go, seep in the views, enjoy the hip aesthetic of the Witt and the Gullu Konak and thank me for it later. Better yet, send me a bottle of one of Turkey’s divine wines upon your return.
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