Photo courtesy of Raffles Hotels & Resorts
On Istanbul’s European side, nestled above the Bosphorus in the year-old Zorlu Center—a sort of sophisticated bazaar 2.0 with more than 200 high-end shops, 40 restaurants, residential apartments and Turkey’s first performing arts center to host Broadway and West End shows—is a new Raffles hotel, which opens in September.
The design-centric property has 181 rooms, of which 49 are suites, outfitted with contemporary Turkish touches—think locally made glass, crystal and subtle mosaics. All have floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies with panoramic city views. Request a corner Horizon Suite, which has an extra-large terrace and wraparound vistas of the Bosphorus.
As is the case with Raffles’s Le Royal Monceau in Paris, art plays a large part in creating the hotel’s vibe, with a mix of mediums—paintings, sculpture, photography, video installation—enlivening the space, including a commissioned 26-foot-high Jean-François Rauzier mural in the lobby lounge. Even the bed headboards are moody artworks ranging from calming purples to dusty blues.
Don’t miss the spa. It’s one of Istanbul’s largest and has a modern version of an old hammam; the treatment to try is the Rose, Sugar and Honey experience. The hotel also has two restaurants, two bars and two swimming pools, including an outdoor one on the roof. Rooms start at $790; Zorlu Center, Besiktas; 90-212/336-9160; raffles.com.