Istanbul is a fantastic city. I am not generally a ‘city person’ but Istanbul is most definitely in my top 5 cities, I was there in November last year and absolutely loved it. It is the only metropolis with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia so you get the best of both worlds with shopping in both boutiques and bazaars, fabulous food, a fusion of cultures and religions and incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

After extensive renovations, one of the cities oldest and most prestigious hotels, the Pera Palace hotel is due to re-open in September 2010.

When the world famous Orient Express chose Istanbul as its last stop in the East, the Pera Palace was opened in 1895 to offer suitable accommodation to adventurers as well as the elite and noble classes of Europe. Guests here included Ataturk, Agatha Christine, Alfred Hitchcock & Greta Garbo.

The hotel was designed in neo-classical, art nouveau and oriental styles, giving Pera Palace its timeless, refined look. It was also home to many firsts. Apart from the Ottoman Palaces, it was the first building to have electricity as well as the first electric elevator. British writer Daniel Farson described the elevator in these words: “It is the most beautiful elevator in the world made of cast iron and wood… It ascends like a lady who curtsies! Bathrooms that provided the only running hot water in the city were also privileges exclusive to Pera Palace Hotel guests. Tall spacious rooms lit by magnificent chandeliers were host to many unforgettable tea and dance parties.

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Author: Steppes Travel