Asmita Mukherjee | Turkiye
Spanning between the two continents of Asia and Europe, Istanbul, Turkiye is the magical meeting place of East and West. Istanbul has been the centre of numerous empires over the centuries, the most significant of which were the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. A potpourri and melting pot of different cultures, the architectural marvels of Istanbul still reflect the history of the Roman-era and Ottoman-era. The unmatched gastronomy, hospitality, and architecture amalgamates the past and the future beautifully in the ancient city of Istanbul which is indeed an enthralling experience for a traveller.
Our 3-and-a-half-day Istanbul trip started on February 20. Our flight from Antalaya Airport took 1.30 hrs to reach Istanbul airport. The business class flight offered us various local food offerings along with soft drinks and Ayraan. Our first encounter with Istanbul Airport was quite impressive with its unique architecture, strong substructure, and superior technology. After collecting our luggage we headed for hotel CVK Park Bosphorus, which was to be our address in Istanbul over the next three days. Our Istanbul itinerary not only included inspections of the top hotels but also enjoying the mesmerising sights and sounds of renowned historical sites such as Hagia Sofia (known as Ayasofya Camii in Turkish), Grand Bazaar, Galata Tower and activities such as luxury yacht joy rides on the mighty Bosphorus.
CVK Park Bosphorus
This is located 45 kilometres away from new İstanbul International Airport. As we reached the hotel, the huge and aesthetically designed lobby grabbed our attention. The hotel boasts 382 spacious rooms, luxury suites, and 68 well-established suites ranging from studio to four-bedroom alternatives. It also offers ample dining options such as Izaka Terrace, Stella Lounge & Bar, Hezarfen S Lounge, Gümüşsuyu Restaurant, and Park Patisserie and Lounge.
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet
The 65 keys boutique yet beautiful heritage hotel is situated a stone’s throw away from the Hagia Sofia Mosque at Sultanahmet. The unique elements of this property starting from the yellow burst of the façade to the Turkish textiles and motifs in each guest room attracts the patrons and connects them with the rich layers of Istanbul.
Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus
Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus holds a special place in history as the first Hilton hotel built outside the Americas and was the first modern hotel built in Europe after the Second World War. The hotel offers stunning views over the Bosphorus Strait. The 500 keys hotel boasts 36 meeting rooms which can hold approx 4,392 people.
The Peninsula Istanbul
Occupying four adjacent buildings along the Bosphorus, The Peninsula Istanbul offers guests a diverse array of accommodation choices. Many of the hotel’s 177 rooms include 138 guest rooms and 39 lavish suites providing beautiful views over the water from floor-to-ceiling windows, balconies, and private terraces. The hotel is set to open a few of its meeting venues which are Yali Ballroom, Liman Room & Deniz Room, Yakamoz Garden, The Herb Garden, and The Rooftop Garden Suite Terrace.
Çırağan Palace Kempinski
This palatial luxury is the only Ottoman imperial palace and hotel on the Bosphorus. The 310 rooms offer a resort atmosphere in the city. There are 29 meeting rooms accommodating from 10 to 1000 people. Each venue offers true luxury and the hotel boasts fine dining restaurants such as Tuğra or Bellini Pasta & More.
Istanbul Lutfi Kirdar International Convention and Exhibition Centre – ICEC
ICEC, the very first and leading convention and exhibition centre in Istanbul has been the driving force of the Turkish meeting industry for almost a quarter of a century.
Located at the heart of the city, with its wide halls and inspiring meeting rooms has the capacity to host many events simultaneously. The main building and the Rumeli Hall with its stunning view of the Bosphorus, technological structure, and innovative services are capable of hosting many events from congresses to meetings, fairs to exhibitions, cocktails to gala dinners, film premieres to cultural events at the national and the international level.
Halic Congress Center
The 102,000-square meter Haliç Congress Center boasts 16,000 square meters of outdoor area, a seating capacity ranging from 219 to 3,004 people, five state-of-the-art auditoriums, connecting foyer and gallery areas totalling 9,172 square meters. It also has 23 multi-purpose halls with seating capacities ranging from 50 to 850.
The Hagia Sophia is an enormous sixth-century architectural marvel that was originally built as a Christian basilica in 537 AD under the Greek Orthodox Christian Church. It was later converted into a mosque, then a museum, and then reconverted to a working mosque. Byzantine influences can be seen in the gold mosaics that cover the walls of the interior of the building. After the conquest of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia became the most important place in Ottoman Empire for the top-ranked families to worship.
Similar to a massive maze, the Grand Bazaar aesthetic relays archaism and grandiose in certain aspects. The labyrinth, like a covered market of more than 60 streets and 4,000 shops, attracts visitors from across the world due to its architectural and historical value. From delicious Baklava to Turkish Delight, Gold Ornaments to Chic jewellery, Carpet to Turkish lights, Mosaic art to Pottery, everything is available at the Grand Bazaar at a very affordable rate.
The second day our lavish yacht ride was scheduled at the Bosphorus. The round-trip for 2.5 hours on the luxury yacht cruise down the Bosphorus was nothing less than a dream. The group tour for 90 minutes is usually designed to help travellers spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities is truly mesmerising. The view of the Bosphorus had us awe-struck with its blue beauty.
Galata Tower, one of the most important structures that make up the silhouette of Istanbul, was used as a long-term fire watchtower and was named Galata Fire Tower. Galata Tower was first built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinianos in 507-508 AD. The tower provides 360 degree panoramic view of Istanbul, which is indeed worth visiting.
Izaya Terrece Restaurant
We reached this fantastic place to attend a gala dinner hosted by the hotel team.
The enthralling evening view from the restaurant with the gorgeous location by the Bosphorus along with the immaculate service perfectly welcomed us into the city of Istanbul. We had Lamb Shish Kebab along with bread which is very similar our naan.
Next day we had our lunch at the Avlu Restaurant located at the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet. We started with freshly baked bread along with homemade herbed butter. Then along the way, we had Turkish Muhammara, Hummus, Dolma, fritters, and Turkish Cacik. The main course had a lot of options with fish and meat. The delicious meal concluded with a dessert.
Dubb Indian Restaurant
Located on the ninth floor of Hilton Bosphorus the restaurant offers a beautiful view and excellent food choices for Indians. We ordered and gorged on almost all of our favourite dishes such as Paneer Tikka, Fish Tikka, Butter Chicken, Jeera Rice, Dal, Roti. We ended the soulful meal with a hot cup of milk tea made just the way like at home.
Located on the first floor of the historical Çırağan Palace with a breath-taking view of the Bosphorus, Tuğra offers a luxury fine-dining experience. We had different kinds of Ottoman Sherbet made with fruits and freshly baked bread served piping hot. Along with the bread, humus and the different kinds of dips served to us were truly amazing. In our main course, lamb preparation was served and the meal ended with flavourful Baklava.
Located at the side of ICEC Madera, we had Cheese Pide (turkish-style Pizza), Veg Pizza, Tzatziki, Hummus, Muhammara and many mouth-watering dishes along with sweet lemon soda.