The Art of Shop­ping

Business Traveler (USA) - - COVER STORY -

A stroll through the leg­endary Grand Bazaar and nearby Spice Mar­ket will sat­isfy any shop­ping list if it in­cludes Turk­ish De­light can­dies or any vari­a­tion of blue glass evil eye pro­tec­tion charms on it. The scenes here are as col­or­ful and aro­matic as they are mag­netic.

While not the best place to pur­chase a kilim, the lo­cal food prod­ucts, col­or­ful garb, cheap jew­elry, even shoes, are a good snag. Be­ware the more ex­pen­sive items. Shop­keep­ers here have packed cen­turies of ex­pe­ri­ence into help­ing con­sumers part with their money. And don’t ex­pect great bar­gain­ing power. Rather, en­joy the vaulted ar­chi­tec­ture and the sense of his­tory (the bazaar dates back to the mid-1400s, although the sur­round­ings now are late Ot­toman). Have a cof­fee in the buzzing book bazaar.

A more un­usual place to wan­der artsy streets for fash­ion and lo­cal color is Galata. Lo­cated in Beyo lu, be­tween Karaköy and stik­lal Av­enue, Galata was once the neigh­bor­hood where mi­nor­ity pop­u­la­tions lived, such as Jews, Greeks and Ar­me­ni­ans as well as mer­chants of the Ot­toman times. But to­day it is the epi­cen­ter of Is­tan­bul’s own bo­hemian quar­ter teem­ing with artists, mu­si­cians and cof­fee houses. Wan­der al­leys to dis­cover art shops, book­stalls, un­usual cloth­ing col­lec­tions and crafts as live jazz wafts from cafes and bars. a for­mer sul­tan’s fortress to feel safe and wrapped in a fairy­tale akin to A Thou­sand and One Nights. Over­look­ing the Strait of Bosporus the ho­tel makes a grand pres­ence and of­fers plenty of story to go with it. Find 315 rooms, 12 grand suites and one sul­tan’s suite, all com­fort­ably equipped and wor­thy of five-star des­ig­na­tion. There are ball­rooms, in­ti­mate rooms and am­bi­ent out­door spa­ces for meet­ings and events and sev­eral din­ing venues that make you feel like you are in the mid­dle of an ex­cit­ing spy thriller.

An­other fa­vorite: Pera Palace. Now owned by Jumeirah, the circa 1892 prop­erty is re­plete with his­tory – start­ing with the brass el­e­va­tor mov­ing amid the prop­erty’s four floors and not ex­clud­ing the Agatha Christie room or the Mustafa Ke­mal Atatürk room, the revo­lu­tion­ary who es­tab­lished the Repub­lic of Turkey in 1923 and pre­served ex­actly as they had lived in them. The 115 rooms are on the small­ish side but keep the 19th cen­tury am­biance alive with vin­tage touches among mod­ern con­ve­niences. The Pera might also be pre­ferred for its lo­ca­tion in the hip and walk­a­ble Beyo lu area of Is­tan­bul.

North Amer­i­can chains to be found in Is­tan­bul in­clude the Four Sea­sons, W, St. Regis, Grand Hy­att, Hil­ton and oth­ers. House Ho­tels is a home­grown brand in Is­tan­bul, with con­ve­nient lo­ca­tions cater­ing mostly to Euro­pean and Gulf trav­el­ers. BT

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