Istanbul (not Constantinople)

A fascinating city built on two Continents, divided by the Bosphorus Strait.

I admit, I’d never really considered Turkey as one of those top countries on my tick list. But in recent years, Istanbul has been making an appearance on the design scene. Named as the European Capital of Culture in 2010, straddled between Asia and Europe it offers the best of both – modern urban life and historic culture. We were keen to explore…

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We stayed at the Witt Istanbul Suites and had high expectations. Upgraded to the Penthouse suite on arrival and we were definitely fulfilled! We had a cornered suite overlooking the Bosphorus river and ace views of the city and mosque filled skyline. The room had a chic city feel with industrial pipes and exposed ironwork, complemented with natural shades and lashings of black.

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Located in the trendy Cihangir neighbourhood, it was far from touristy. The bumpy streets and broken slab paths housed creative cafes and converted apartments. It had character and charm, and certainly laid on the more Western of influences. A ten minute walk downhill (and I mean downhill!) towards the Golden Horn and we reached the Istanbul Modern – Turkeys answer to the Tate. A fab architectural structure, it overlooks the Bosphorous and sits next to an array of hookah cafes… mmm sweet fragrant smoke!

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On the other side of the river, twas a more traditional experience. The Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and the Basilica Cistern all give an insight to historic Turkey, – the wonders of the Ottoman and Byzantine empires. Truly breathtaking. I was crazily looking forward to explore the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market – crammed with local stall owners selling their wares; rugs, jewellery, spices and teas! Not sure I was quite prepared for the epic bargaining and in-your-face-selling, but hey it was certainly a vibrant purchasing expedition.

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Stay
Witt Istanbul Suites – design led awesomeness & views of the city

See
Karakoy Fish Market – harbour side insight to traditional Turkey

Explore
Santral Istanbul – a disused power station, now home to a modern art museum

Eat
The House Cafe – 12 branches of fresh ingredients and trendy decor

Drink
Komsufirin – Middle Eastern sweet bakery delights

Dance
11:11 – Perfect marriage of fancy lights & house music