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Turkish delight


The only city to span two continents, Istanbul is equally happy embracing east and west, from a skyline of minarets and skyscrapers to the call of the muezzin competing with lounge music from the latest bar. By Sarah Gilbert



House Hotel Bosphorus

This beautifully restored 19th-century waterfront mansion's original features – lofty ceilings, ornate plasterwork, parquet floors – have been complemented by contemporary Turkish design. Most rooms have balconies overlooking Ortaköy's small harbour and the twinkling lights of the Bosphorus Bridge.; Salhane Sokak 1, Ortaköy


Sumahan on the Water
This Ottoman-era former distillery sits on a peaceful stretch of the Asian shore. Most of the 20 sleek suites have fireplaces, some have Turkish-style baths and all have floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular views over the Bosphorus.; Kulelí Caddesi 51, Çengelköy




Meze by Lemon Tree
Gençay Üçok serves up meze with a modern twist, including sublime hibesh (a tahini and red pepper dip) from Eastern Turkey and innovative pickled yellow cherries. Remember to leave room for hot meze, such as monkfish stew with red-wine gravy and feta cheese.; Meşrutiyet Caddesi 83/B, Beyoğlu


Lokanta Maya
Focusing on seasonal produce, Didem Senol puts a contemporary spin on her grandmother's dishes in her daily-changing menu. Don't miss the delicious mücver (courgette fritters); the recipe is written on one of the mirrors.; Kemankeş Caddesi 35/A, Karaköy


Yeni Lokanta
Civan Er sources ingredients from all over the country: sour pomegranate from Antalya, olive oil from Marmaris and blue cheese from Konya. Try his own-recipe sucuk sausage and dried aubergine stuffed manti dumplings with Antiochian yoghurt sauce.; Kumbaraci Yokuşu 66, Beyoğlu




Perched on the rooftop of the Marmara Pera Hotel, above celebrity chef Mehmet Gurs' Turkish-Scandinavian restaurant of the same name, creative cocktails – the martinis are particularly good – are accompanied by show-stopping city views.; Meşrutiyet Caddesi 167-185, Beyoğlu


This modern meyhane, or tavern, houses a stylish bar. On warm evenings,
sit al fresco with some meze, such as white cheese baked with porcini mushrooms and truffle oil, washed down thrice-distilled Beylerbeyi Raki, Turkey's potent anise-flavoured spirit.; Yeni Çarşi Caddesi 19, Beyoğlu


Holy Coffee
With sofas, bookshelves and art-filled walls, it's like taking a break in someone's living room. Arzu, the hands-on owner, is happy to offer her tips on the city, along with homemade cakes, biscuits, soup and excellent coffee.
Hacioğlu Sokak 1B, Çukurcuma




This opulent boutique in upscale Nişantaşi is filled with unique jewellery, crafts and textiles inspired by centuries-old Anatolian traditions that the Turkish-American owners design and produce at their own atelier.; Abdi Ipekçi Caddesi Bostan Sokak 8, Nişantaşi


Third-generation Turkish rug maker Memet Gureli started his own company in 1989. His Dhoku brand sells one-of-a-kind contemporary pieces, either hand woven on looms in Anatolia or created by blending antique kilims.; Kapali Çarşi Takkeciler Sokak 58-60, Grand Bazaar


A La Turka
Set among Çukurcuma's treasure trove of antique and vintage shops, Erkal Aksoy's boutique is like a beautiful museum – with price tags. Ancient kilims, Ottoman embroidery and Tokat pottery are just some of the delights on offer.; Faik Paşa Caddesi 4, Çukurcuma




Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamami
This beautiful 16th-century hamam between Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque recently reopened after a multi-million dollar restoration. Lie on a marble slab and be soaped, scrubbed and massaged into a state of utter relaxation., Babuhumayun Caddesi 1, Sultanahmet


The Princes' Islands
The nine, car-free Princes' Islands make a tranquil escape from the city. Ferries make the 90-minute journey from Kabataş and Kadiköy to Buyukada, the largest, which you can explore by horse-drawn carriage or bicycle.


Bosphorus Tours
The best way to see the famous strait is from a city-run ferry. The full tour takes about 90 minutes each way, docking alternately at the city's European and Asian shores lined with picturesque mansions – or opt for a shorter circuit or sunset cruise.




Locally Istanbul
Beat the traffic and see the city from a different angle from the sidecar of a WW2 vintage motorcycle. Explore the best-kept secrets of the European coast road, including Ortaköy and Bebek, or cross the Bosphorus Bridge to discover the Asian shore.


ArtWalk Istanbul
Get an insight into the city's contemporary art scene on a series of art walks from GriZine. Every Saturday, a local in-the-know leads a small group around the best new galleries and exhibitions in four different neighbourhoods, including Nişantaşi and Karaköy.

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