The Art of Shopping
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