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7th Year Nr. 72 - Saturday, December 14th 2019.


Laetitia Missir de LusignanISTANBUL: A beautiful and trendy stroll between East and West

By Laetitia Missir de Lusignan

There can only be one city in the world that never ceases to fascinate its visitors by such historical splendors. Just add these few names together and what do you find? Sultanahmet, Eminönü, Fener, Balat, Karaköy, Beyoglu (the ancient and cosmopolitan Pera), without forgetting Cihangir or Galata and its famous Tower offering the most spectacular horizon dotted by eternal landmarks such as the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque ... That’s right, you are in Istanbul!

Istanbul Istanbul Istanbul
Istanbul Istanbul Istanbul
Istanbul Istanbul Istanbul
Istanbul Istanbul Istanbul

Take a walk beyond description to experience exotic fragrances, surprises and spectacles of all kinds. In fact, most visitors will be looking to explore Byzantium. Yes, Byzantium, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Greek city renamed Constantinople in 330 AD. JC ... French writers such as Nerval (Voyage to the Orient), Gauthier (Constantinople), Loti, who resided there on several occasions (Aziyadé), or Flaubert (Voyages) all praised its enchanting powers before the fall of the Ottoman Empire ... Literature Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, also describes an overwhelming melancholy in his last book Istanbul Memories of a city.

This melancholic feeling is actually part of the local heritage and culture and known as the "Hüzun": this feeling of Bohemian, traditional and contemporarysadness buried in the depths of the city which Istanbulites share in a common destiny, a feeling both negative and positive. This feeling was described at the sight of the famous “Yalis”, summer wooden villas facing the Bosphorus, which also fascinated Byron in the early nineteenth century ...

The years have since passed, yet Istanbul remains this unclassifiable city, fascinating, too wonderful for words as its role in history remains omnipresent within all its districts; above all in Europe of course, but also in Asia, beyond the Bosporus, at Moda, for instance, where the atmosphere is equally captivating...

Just delve into the masterpieces mentioned above as in the resounding book Constantinople, City of the World’s Desire, 1453-1924, Seuil, Paris, signed Philippe Mansel ( A trip back in history enabling you to grasp the vital role it played in the world ... Rich with such a past, between East and West, today it is one of the most glamorous and trendy cities in Europe where contrasts, magic and modernity flirt with many mixed traditions. Altogether bohemian, traditional, avant-garde or even ultra contemporary ... everything is possible on the shores of the Bosphorus ...  given appropriate bearings and allowing yourself to be guided by your inspiration!


Welcome to one of the most bohemian hills of Istanbul, "the part of the city which never sleeps," as Frank Sinatra said. Taksim Square is an excellent starting point to begin strolling down the endless and chaotic Istiklal street leading up to Tünel (take the mythical old tram: so charming!). Music echoes from all around, intoxicating or melancholic with a hint of nostalgia, that of the national "star" Sezen Aksu for instance, or oriental instrumental melodies signed Cafe Anatolia. The diplomats district during the 19th century, eternal gathering point of Levantine, Jews, Greeks or Armenians, it remains the most cosmopolitan part of the city.  

Between nostalgia and exacerbated modernity, from the frontage of the embassies, to townhouses and other elegant Art Nouveau buildings ( fusion cooking), each with its own unique history ... as well as being the best place to catch sight of the best creative and cheerful artists. You can stroll and lose track of time in the maze of small winding streets and squares, located on both sides of the Istiklal Cad. (Independence Street), each one of them offering a world of its own where you can expect to discover many points of interest... starting with Cukurcuma (“Instanbul’s Soho") and Cihangir (adjoining the Galata district ie Tophane) with its multitude of small wooden houses.

BazaarNot far from the Faikpasa Yokusu (famous street), you will uncover art galleries, designer shops (Suzanne Simon, Mine Kers, Art shop ...) and other very stylish curiosities. Erkal Aksoy, the famous antiquarian (Phone: 00 90 212 245 29 33) specializing in Anatolian kilim carpets, will welcome you in his beautiful showroom "Alla Turca". A few steps away, the Italian Lisa Corti ( unveils colourful dresses and other beautiful objects. The 18 (Akyol Sokak 13/A), inaugurated by the architect Selçuk Arikan in 2001, attracts lovers of retro decoration (50’s, 60’s & 70’s) and 5.Kat restaurant ( created by actress Yasemin Alkaya is magical, especially at dusk - its terrace offers breathtaking views of the horizon! (Italian-Asian cuisine).
Well worth the visit too: the small "vintage" shop Alti (Anahtar Sokak 15) with a variety of treasures waiting to be unearthed.  Its café is famous for herbal teas and spicy weekend brunches. Feeling hungry? The Koyukahve (Hayriye Cad No. 5) is the perfect choice with tasty snacks, lovely wooden tables and contemporary photos on the walls. The whole street is in fact packed with very nice places! (LokantaBarCafé,, ...) Not to be missed!

En route to Asmali Mescit, the Turkish Soho, located a few steps away from Tünel. Old bookshops, cafés and atmospheric restaurants are swamped, day and night, by bobo intellectuals and curious journalists for a game of tavla (chess) between çay (tea) or a glass of raki (the country’s anisette), with Greek music in the background (Sofyali Sok. 9).  You will be puzzled by its strange contrasts.  Further up the street, sample the ingenuity of the creators of marvelous club-restaurants, all equally beautiful: (sip incredible cocktails while admiring the beauty Cultural Capital of Europe 2010of the horizon and sample the "contemporary menu"), or Lokanta ( I very nearly forgot Babylon (, a trend-setting concert hall, jazz, rock and pop club, with very talented DJ’s lighting up the dance floor. It also happens to be “the-place-to-be” for stars and celebrities who invade the top floor of 360 Misir Apartments ( with its breathtaking 360 degree view and ultra-contemporary decor (huge circular sofas created by the famous designer Derin).
An absolute must before joining the lovely hotel Ansen 130 ( (very intimate with only 10 suites overlooking the Golden Horn).  Back to Tünel, take the funicular down to Karaköy, the best way to reach the new Museum of Contemporary Art from the Bosphorus ( which opened in December 2004 (8000 m² spread over two floors of a grand space) revealing the excellent work of Turkish artists together with temporary international exhibitions. 

Don’t miss the incredible Café bar on the top floor at dusk…


modelsNorth of Taksim you will come across Armani, Vuitton, Prada, Escada, Versace…and Sofia Ko-ko-sa-la-ki! Remember her? The Greek fashion designer in charge of the Athens Olympics.  All the elite of Stamboul and sensual fashionistas meet there.  Ideal for luxury shopping or taking in the trends of some of the art galleries.  Business men and top models alike convene to the Bentley Hotel (, member of the Design Hotels group in a setting which is as sober as it is modern.  With minimalist decor, shades of browns and whites, its rich materials were orchestrated by Italians Piero Lissoni and Nicoletta Canesi. In 3 words: cozy, warm and bright.  However, if the ultimate contemporary design is what you are after, visit Derin’s loft show room ( nearby.  Incredible! 

In a corner, the Armani Cafe is a reference (Giulio Mongeri) as soon as night sets in (Maçka Cad, 35 Tesvikiye). It’s the place to be and to be seen in a grey and beige setting, elegant atmosphere, Italian menu and a variety of cocktails. What else?  Much more… Elaidi (, much appreciated fashion creator looks forward to greeting you in her workshop and Deniz Tunç design (Güzelbahçe Sokak 5/1) and will be pleased to guide you through the latest unexpected and original inventions (recomposed Ottoman lamps).


Green districts along the Bosphorus
Easy to reach by taxi or on foot, beautiful houses flirt with the blue colours and waters of the Bosphorus, in an eternal ballet of vessels, seemingly timeless and eternal… far from the tourists, rich aesthetes have invaded the Riviera. A few miles away of Ortaköy, famous for its hippy Sunday market and wild nights (especially in Summer) at Angelique Buz ( or at the Reina club ( cherished by Cameron Diaz as well as other national and international stars.  Reina Club is without doubt the queen of the trendy bars – restaurants.
Between May and September Reina changes into an open place; zip from your cocktail in the open air next to the Bosphorus, just magic. Age group between 30 and 50.


Not to be missed along the Bosphorus: the fantastic Italian-Mediterranean restaurant Da Mario (Dil Hayat Sokak 7), Paper Moon (Ahmet Adnan Saygun Cad) considered to be the most expensive in town, the breathtaking Ulus 29 + club 29 (in the same street) created by Zeynep Fadillioglu (Italian/French/Turkish cuisine, together with sushi et sashimi) with which you might be acquainted through Chintamani in London.  Let’s not forget the BuzADA club (Kuruçesme) (beautiful in summer), which very often hosts Claude Challe.  For contemporary art, the brand new Elgiz museum  ( attracts curators and collectors from across the world.


In the extremely lively Grand Bazaar you will discover one of Philippe Starck’s creations in the Fès Cafe (Halicilar Cad, n°2).  Next door, Ethnicon ( offers astonishing modern Kilims where Abdulla ( will enchant you with 1001 oriental scents (soaps, fabrics, essential oils…). The Egyptian market (spice market) is a place where you will find plenty of places to eat, like Pandeli’s (stuffed eggplants, Kofta of Smyrna), which is a true institution (Misir Carsisi 1) just before you reach Eminönü. Above all, Isanbul’s nostalgic quarters are purely and simply at their most majestic when it comes to Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.  Note the Hotel Epress Zoe ( exquisite haven for lovers of tranquillity and serenity.  Open all year round (with only 22 rooms!) and nestled within two adorable little old houses, totally refurbished (terrace and private hammams).  Go there, you will soon understand why this journey will be one to be remembered…



Hotel Les Ottomans
A Member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World
Muallim Naci Cad. N° 68
34345 Kurucesme - Istanbul
T : 0090 (0) 212 359 15 00

Hotel les Ottomans is an ancient ‘yali’ (a pacha’s mansion and wooden summer villa built along the Bosphorus).  In 1790 it was the house of Muhsinzade… In 1933 a violent fire broke out and nearly completely destroyed it. Recently, it was stunningly renovated thanks to the present owner Ahy Aysal, and has revived its lavishness and ancient splendours…!  With 10 sumptuous and extremely luxurious suites, they all offer the pleasures of a luxury life, for a moment which will leave you breathless: luxury, sensuality and pure voluptuousness within an extremely refined cocoon.  This is the only hotel in Turkey offering a Caudalie SPA (vinotherapy and exclusive massages within a splendid decor).  Suites from Eur 800 (Devlet Hatun) to Eur 3500 for the Surrem Sultan suite: panoramic views of the Bosphorus…


Ceylan Intercontinental Istanbul
RestaurantThe InterContinental Istanbul overlooks the stunning Dolmabahçe Palace, the last Imperial Ottoman Palace and the legendary Bosphorus Straits. It is just a short taxi ride from Istanbul’s International Airport.
Many of the city’s most significant cultural attractions and shopping districts are within walking distance of the hotel, including the Old City, The Blue Mosque and the Royal Topkapi Palace.

The hotel has 383 elegantly styled guest rooms, 52 sumptuous suites and 62 exclusive Club rooms. The guest rooms are crisp and modern with neutral colours, oversized beds, stylish furniture and modern Turkish art decorates the walls.

InterContinental Istanbul Suites offer an exclusive butler service, separate dining area and living room. Interiors have a Turkish twist with Arabian patterned fabrics, and splashes of deep reds and gold to create exquisite surroundings.

Club guests can take advantage of the Executive Club Lounge including a complimentary breakfast buffet, cocktail hour, pre dinner snacks and drinks daily. Club guests can also enjoy private check in and check out.

BallroomDolmabahce Ballroom is the largest meeting facility and has a stunning interior with an ornate ceiling and spectacular chandeliers; it can hold up to 900 guests in a reception style.The Bosphorus Ballroom has fantastic views over the Bosphorus allowing lots of natural daylight in the neutrally decorated room. It can hold up to 700 guests reception style or 400 for a banquet style layout.All rooms are equipped with three ISDN BA lines, analog phone lines, wireless internet access, TV broadcast and UPS lines. Some rooms are available with independently controlled lighting and air conditioning, electronic signboards and video shooting services.

Asker Ocagi Cad no. 1
34435 Taksim
Istanbul -Turkey

Tel      +90 212 368 4444
Direct  +90 212 368 4595
Fax     +90 212 231 8462
Mobile +90 532 344 7564


Incentive References
Karavantravel is Turkey’s No. 1 Incentive agency.  Founded in 1969 by the famous Italian Baltazzi family, established since the very beginning in Turkey, it is still personally managed by them.  Unique professionalism in the tourism sector throughout the country: MICE, KaravanMar, Karavan Incoming, Karavan Collection (organization of exclusive travel in unique destinations with top luxury hoteliers). 

Phone : +90 (212) 247 50 44 - 247 50 66  Fax:+90  212 233 31 06

Further ‘much loved’ references

European Bank:

  • Petek: famous for thousands of vegetables lined up in glass jars. Don’t forget to try the legendary drink of energising vinegar marinate, as alleged by Istanbulites… Balikpazan Duduodalan. Sok. n°7.
  • Beyoglu.
  • Atatürk Deniz Köskü: the sea pavilion built in 1935 by the architect Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi, in only 43 days.  Summer residence of Atatürk, it is beautifully set along the Sea of Marmara and is a pure jewel…
  • Central: Not to be missed!  This reconverted electric power station of Silahtara (historical building), in the heart of the Golden Horn, predicts Istanbul’s aspiration: European Capital of Culture in 2010! With a contemporary art museum, artists’ residence, library, energy museum and a restaurant with breathtaking view!
    Phone: +90 212 444 0 428
Asian Bank:
  • Kandilli : A delightful café with old photos of Atatürk, and delicious mezzes served in a unique atmosphere around a good raki (anisette)…Kandilli iskele Caddesi n 17. Uskudar.
    Phone : +90 216 332 32 41
  • Sumahan Hotel: A beautiful, elegant and new address.
    Luxury, refinement and exclusive service in 20 contemporary and individually decorated rooms, facing the Bosphorus.  Also visited for its restaurant le Kordon, famous for its seafood specialities. 
    Phone: +90 216 422 8000

To get there:

see the national airline : two flights per day out of Brussels. 
Visit also or e-mail: 

Please also visit: ‘The Istanbul centre of Brussels’ recently opened on Avenue des Arts, 46 1000 Brussels
Phone: +32(0)2-289.04.70

Take with you:
101 Istanbul, scenes from a Worldcity by Danny Post and Marlon Zwier

Istanbul. Style City. 2005. L’Art de vivre à Istanbul. Foreword by Kénizé Mourad. Flammarion, 1993. Ohran Pamuk, Istanbul, souvenirs d’une ville. Gallimard, 2007. Istanbul, Cartoville. Gallimard. 2007.
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