Tourism in Turkey is rebounding after a succession of security incidents saw visitor numbers drop 33 percent from 2014 to 2016. The country witnessed a a 40 percent growth in visitors in the third quarter of 2017 over the same period a year earlier, and expects 32 million tourists in 2018. A good chunk of those visitors will come from the GCC, as high demand prompts Emirates to resume flights to Istanbul in June.
The rapid recovery isn’t all-surprising; Istanbul, anywhere between 3,000-7,500 years old, is where the history and modernity meet authenticity. A 3km long shopping district–one of many in the city– bustles with activity minutes away from the awe-inspring Hagia Sophia (now a museum) built more than a millenia ago. The 17th century Blue Mosque, and the imperial Topkapi Palace, are sights to behold, spread a across landscape straddling Eastern Europe and Western Asia, split by the Bosphorous, Marmara and Black Seas–plied by a thriving cruise industry, and the banks of which are dotted with al fresco dining outlets and, well, summer palaces.
We chose to stay at the centrally located Fairmont Quasar Istanbul Bosphorus, which opened in 2016. and is situated in the city’s business district Mecidiyeköy. That it caters primarily to business travellers is evident from its location in the business district, and the fact that it carries over 2,000 sqm of meeting room space. The Grand One Bedroom Suite is spacious, soundproofed, and adequately furnished with all the amenities that make working away from said rooms convenient.
The details will reel guests in: Motorised curtains activated by touch, heated floors (it was a chilly nine degrees when we visited in January), traditional Turkish hammams in some of the rooms, and panoramic views of the city skyline rising above the Bosphorus.
Remarkable furnishings make for refined interiors: modernist chandeliers accompany burnished leather and pastel velour furniture over soft wood flooring. The hotel also features an ample number of terraces as well as an infinity pool that make views of the city ever easier to take in.
On-the -ball staff carry tomes of information on the city’s attractions taking on the burden of reservations and taxi bookings which can otherwise be arduous in Istanbul. It’s worth a mention that social media sensation SaltBae’s famed Nusr-Et steakhouse is a short drive away.
The hotel’s own dining options comfortably stave off any hunger pangs, although discovering the budget economy of the outlets are a pleasant surprise. The Demlique café and Aila, serve traditional fare–the latter’s ‘spice library,’ means it excels at mezzes.
CEO tip: A dedicated helipad means helicopter transfers are also available from the hotel, on request. A 10 minute walk to a robust metro network provides direct access to Taksim Square, and the hotel is a 15-20 minute car ride from the must-visit Grand Bazaar, as well as Ataturk Airport.
Price: Around AED600 a night.
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