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With the Turkish capital only a short flight away, one of its most vibrant neighbourhoods is perfect for a weekend getaway
The City Break — the perfect excuse to shop, discover a new cuisine, explore a new culture, get those steps up and see a new city or re-visit an old favourite. This particular adventure was all about swapping out the predictable and discovering the teas, textiles and tradition of the ancient city of Istanbul.
Possibly one of the largest cities I’ve ever visited, one of the many challenges on choosing this destination was where to stay — with hundreds of suburbs sprawled over hills and split by the Bosporus and Golden Horn, it’s difficult to find a place that will tick all your food, fashion and fun boxes.
Quickly becoming one of the city’s hippest districts, the quarter of Karaköy, with its bustling waterfront, boutique stores, cobbled streets and fantastic food offering was our pick of the pack. While the area is peppered with sights worth seeing including the Galata Tower and the Jewish Museum, it is also a short stroll from historic sites, including the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Furthermore, it’s home to a handful of cool, arty and design-driven hotels including the House Hotel Karaköy, a beautiful space doused in history.
Built inside a former bank, the House Hotel Karaköy in the Turkish capital was recently given a slick, modern facelift to mirror the neighbourhood’s emerging cool culture. As well as its design savvy and city-appropriate rooms, the hotel has gained a spa, plenty of elegant décor and a collection of modern and mostly local art. That being said, the original German-made vaults in the cellars remain, which have been given a new lease of life storing fine wines and MICE space.
There are seven room categories to suit all tastes and budgets, from comfy and cosy deluxe rooms to the terrace penthouse and executive suites. We loved the freestanding bathtub in the penthouse, with floor-to-ceiling views over the Bosporus and panelled doors and parquet floors in the deluxe rooms. Each room and suite boasts marble bathrooms and in true 21st century style, lights and curtains are all controlled from the bedside.
The dining options are also strong — breakfast is served on the ground floor offering a buffet and à la carte egg options, surrounded by marble columns and abstract lighting. Kasa restaurant, on the relaxed and stylish roof terrace, offers an international menu with Turkish accents and great views of Galata Bridge, the old town and the entire Golden Horn. The interiors are fabulous but the main draw is definitely the views — a sight definitely worth seeing, even if it is just for a drink.
There are plenty of other dining options right on the doorstep. Mikla, 44th on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, offers fine-dining tasting menus in a stunning sky-high setting, while the delicatessen Karaköy Lokantasi is perfect for quick bites. At Mürver, a short 9-minute walk away, try the octopus and confit duck to start followed by the braised lamb — a Turkish speciality.
One of the main draws at House Hotel Karaköy is its staff — efficient and professional, the personnel were on hand at every call with friendly tips, advice and a smile. Other highlights of the hotel include a modern fitness centre, saunas for men and women, a small hammam and a collection of treatment rooms.
Pop in at Salt Galata next door. The art gallery and cultural centre hosts regular talks and exhibitions.
A neighbourhood ripe for exploration, add Karaköy to the top of your 2019 bucket list.
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