Expectations are high when you’re known as the ‘jewel of the Bosphorus’, but this hotel, where old and new sit side by side in luxurious harmony, manages to exceed them.
Housed in a newly converted 1930s tobacco factory, the exterior of the hotel is overshadowed by that of the neighbouring Dolmabahce Palace. But step inside and you’ll find a palatial lobby with marble walls, ornate floral displays and gold trimmings.
Located in the financial and entertainment district of Besiktas, just a short 15-minute drive from Istanbul’s manic tourist hub, Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul offers a chance to experience a more tranquil take on the city. Sitting on the European side of the famous Bosphorus Strait (Istanbul is the only city that sits on two continents – Europe and Asia), it benefits from mesmerising vistas of the city’s famous rolling hills, colourful domes and stunning minarets – a glimpse of all the majestic wonders Istanbul holds.
While comfortably modern, the hotel takes inspiration from the historic Dolmabahce Palace. A grand staircase wends down the hotel’s three-storey dome-shaped atrium, where a spectacular chandelier takes centre stage. A garden wall of peach blossoms adds a Mediterranean feel, while an immense 18m silk painting is a nod to the hotel’s Asian roots.
There are 186 rooms including 17 spacious suites. Feeling much like a grand dame upon entering our sumptuous suite, we were immediately struck by the splendid views of the Bosphorus strait. The décor is chic with muted colours, simple Chinese art, and elegant furniture. Modern essentials like free Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs with international channels and a Nespresso machine are all present and correct. The white marble-clad bathroom was our favourite part, thanks to the glorious bath, rain shower and the TV built into the mirror. Bulgari products (including a travel kit) were the icing on our cosseted cake.
It’s worth splashing out on the top suite so you can pad around on the terrace overlooking the Old City, the Bosphorus bridge and Asia across the way.
Food Glorious Food
History and aesthetics aside, it’s the culinary delights that will have us booking a return trip to the Shangri-La. The group is particular about who it hires, and its chefs only utilise the freshest of ingredients – two traits that result in gastronomic masterpieces across all of it’s restaurants.
Authentic Chinese restaurant Shang Palace, complete with its renowned Kung Fu tea master (exactly what it sounds like), is the main attraction, especially given the likelihood of spotting a local celeb or two.
IST TOO is the hotel’s contemporary all-day dining option, serving Turkish, Mediterranean and Southeast Asian dishes. The sushi and the charcoal grill are the standout options in its incredibly extensive buffet.
Forget the mini bar and get yourself to Le Bar, which has a brooding gentleman’s club/speakeasy feel. Opt for cocktails and some of the best bar snacks we’ve ever tasted.
Spa & Away
CHI, The Spa features all the usual massage and facial suspects, but when in Turkey there’s only one option: the hammam. Soothing and balancing, you’ll be left feeling incredibly rejuvenated – not to mention squeaky clean.
Be sure to leave time for a dip in the hotel pool and a spell in the Jacuzzi. The Shangri-La also has a supremely well-equipped gym, if you’re so inclined.