By Justin Mays:
Opportunities to enjoy a luxurious staycation, attend a world-class performance, or have a Michelin quality meal in Istanbul are expanding while the old is being made new again. This latest reinvention of the city comes as travel is picking up following the worst of the pandemic and is tailored to locals and visitors alike.
Istanbul is reframing its travel identity and bringing new energy into its image. Taking advantage of the slower pace by speeding up construction and renovation, the city is now unveiling these projects, many of which are tailored for luxury clientele, all at once.
A fabulous new Mandarin Oriental opened in Kurucesme on the Bosphorus with contemporary Ottoman designs and a five-star spa. Also, along the Bosphorus, a Peninsula Hotel, close to Galataport, with 177 rooms is opening in late 2022. It will welcome guests with landscaped gardens, swimming pools, and a rooftop bar replete with views of the old city. While two classic Istanbul favorites, the Çırağan Palace Kempinski hotel, and Four Seasons Sultanahmet are undergoing renovations. Adding to the impressive hotel scene in Istanbul, the new École St. Pierre hotel in Galata opened last fall. This conversion of a 180-year-old French school includes 13th-century city walls in the structure and offers a wonderful place to stay for those who prefer boutique hotels.
Noma and Nihonryori trained chef, Fatih Tutak opened his namesake restaurant in hip Bomonti. Modern and sleek, guests can partake in a Neo-Anatolian tasting menu highlighting local ingredients with special touches like handmade knives from a local craftsman. Looking for a more traditional meal? After touring the old city take the opportunity to try Turkish delicacies atop the 18th-century Cağaloğlu Hamam at Lokanta 1741. International food options are booming too. London’s Roka has found a new home at Galataport delighting local fans of Japanese cuisine. Novikov’s first Istanbul outpost is at the Mandarin Oriental merging Italian and Asian food in a market concept setting. Visitors to the École St. Pierre hotel in Galata will enjoy the stylish Il Cortile Italian restaurant serving up northern Italian cuisine inspired by the Genoese sailors who once populated this neighborhood.
In Kadikoy, a former powerplant, Müze Gazhane, or Gasworks Museum is a complex of museums (one dedicated to climate, another to comics), performance spaces, and art exhibits.
The massive Renzo Piano-designed Istanbul Modern art museum in Karakoy is slated to open in May and will house the most extensive collection of modern Turkish art available for public view. Book your tickets to a performance at Taksim Square’s brand-new Atatürk Culture Center, which includes an opera house, library, and art galleries.
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