Read travel tales from the Chic Team as they wander and explore the world.
Flying on Turkish Airlines from was a chic surprise. Great airlines, good food and excellent service. We arrived at Istanbul Ataturk Airport and was ready to take on the city and spend our Istanbul city break in style.
Where to Stay and Party
We stayed at the Shangri-La hotel on the Bosphorus, on the European side of the city. The service was exquisite, and the top floor room overlooking the sea was an absolute jewel. The location was perfect for an Istanbul city break – the hotel is within walking distance of the chic Ni?anta?? quarter, where you can find the latest fashion stores, fancy restaurants, cafes and bars. Dinner was at Reina, overlooking the Bosphorus, which turned into a happening lounge and club after 11 pm.
The Old City
We spent Saturday visiting the Sultanahmet Area, where the beautiful Hagia Sophia Mosque and Blue Mosque are located. I found the experience of walking into the mosque during prayer time, after taking off my shoes, absolutely magical. The cupolas were finely painted in an array of beautiful colours and shapes.
Next stop was the Basilica Cistern. This hotel has played host to a number of film sets, including the Bond movie ‘From Russia with Love’. The Bazaar shops and cafés can be very tempting but tricky at the same time. To make the most of your Istanbul city break, watch out for spending too much time going from one shop to another looking for the best bargain, while potentially being ignorant of the real value of your purchase.
Places to Eat
We enjoyed dinner at a local fish restaurant called Bal?kç? Sabahattin in the Sultanahmet area, which was an excellent choice. For an after dinner drink, we were directed to Frankie, which is located on the top floor of the chic Sofa Hotel Ni?anta?? and has the best views of the Golden Horn.
By far the best Sunday morning brunch is at The Shangri-la Hotel, which had stunning views of the Bosphorus. After brunch, we took a ferry to the Asian side of the city to stop at the chic boutique hotel Sumahan On The Water.
Turkish Spa Delights
After many hours of walking the city, indulging in a Hamman Turkish bath treatment and massage at the Shangri-La Chi Spa was the perfect way to end the day. Being pampered at the hands of the highly-skilled therapists unquestionably rejuvenates your mind, body and soul.
Although an Istanbul city break is a supremely enjoyable way to spend a weekend, this is a city of almost 20 million people, so it requires time and patience to discover it. Taxi drivers add to the cultural shock of the city, as they would not acknowledge speaking any English nor recognise any addresses! So, be prepared to have a good map in hand and to use your navigational instincts!