Luxury Istanbul: Ciragan Kempinski Palace
While many visitors travel to Istanbul to explore its fascinating historic sites and colourful bazaars, Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul offers special appeal for culinary travellers.
The luxury hotel’s Tuğra Restaurant and Lounge on the first floor of the original Çırağan Palace hosts a classic Ottoman fine-dining experience featuring specialties such as Lamb Külbastı and Testi Kebab.
The Ciragan Palace Kempinski is widely considered the best luxury hotel in Istanbul as well as Istanbul’s top luxury dining destination which makes it ideal for a culinary getaway, a wedding, honeymoon or a romantic escape. It was also perfect for me as I was travelling solo and concerned about safety in Turkey.
Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
My spacious room on the 5th floor overlooked the Bosphorus and featured double doors that opened onto a terrace that was perfect for enjoying a morning coffee or sipping tea while watching the sun set. Each evening, a culinary treat such as Turkish Delight, was presented as an amenity which added an authentic local touch.
It’s also the only hotel I’ve ever checked into where I was presented with a hand bouquet of fresh flowers. Wrapped in silk, it was a posey fit for walking down a wedding aisle so I felt very special indeed carrying it to my room.
Although most people visit Istanbul in the summer, it’s also possible to explore its many sights in the winter. Check this Istanbul Winter Travel Guide for suggestions on things to do.
Ortakoy Mosque Istanbul
Located in the heart of Istanbul on the European shores of the Bosphorus overlooking the ancient city,the Ciragan Palace Kempinski hotel also happens to be an easy 10 minute walk to the beautiful Ortakoy mosque.
Built in 1855, this impressive building sits at the edge of the waterfront of the Bosphorus and anchors İskele Meydanıa a lively square where I happened upon a Sunday Flea market where I spent several hours browsing for souvenirs such as sachets of lavender, jewellery and hand-knitted wool mittens.
The beautiful architecture and setting of Ortakoy Mosque makes it a must-see on any visit to Istanbul. Consult this 5 Day Istanbul Itinerary to make sure you don’t miss any of the major sights and experiences.
The Ortakoy Pier is one of the busiest in Istanbul and offers several restaurants, bars and food stands where you can lounge and watch the beautiful sunset. I travelled there solo, enjoyed a chilled Efes Pilsener and felt very safe even after dark.
Ciragan Palace Restaurants and Menu
Back at Ciragan Palace Kempinski, I explored their recently-expanded menu. A highlight of the updated menu is the introduction of gluten-free and vegetarian menu dining options at Laledan restaurant and Gazebo Lounge.
For travellers with dietary restrictions, the Ciragan Palace Kempinski is definitely the best luxury hotel in Istanbul. A new partnership with Ark of Taste Products is designed to offer guests unique seasonal selections during the weekly signature Sunday Brunch. The gluten-free and vegetarian options are clearly identified and are quite expansive.
Spa at the Ciragan Palace Kempinski
To further complement a fit, healthy and active vacation (and wear off the calories of too much Turkish Delight) Ciragan Palace Kempinski also features a fully-equipped fitness center, lush gardens with an outdoor pool overlooking the Bosphorus and the Sanitas spa complete with a hammam Turkish bath, indoor swimming pool and luxurious treatment rooms.
If you’re interested in spas and thermal waters, it’s worthwhile to take an overnight bus or fly to the Travertine Thermal Pools in Pamukkale Turkey for an unforgettable experience.
Security and Safety in Istanbul
During my visit, security was evident at both check-in and on the grounds, which added a level of confidence given recent safety issues in Istanbul. For example, all visitors at the Ciragan Palace Kempinski undergo a mandatory scan and check of bags and luggage before entering. Judging from the photo gallery, the hotel is popular among celebrities, dignitaries and royalty — Oprah, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Linda Evangelista, Robert DeNiro and Bono have all enjoyed a stay here.
Top Things to Do in Istanbul
The hotel also makes a fine home base for explorations of Istanbul. During my visit, I participated in a walking tour of the Old Quarter with Culinary Backstreets and highly recommend them if you’re a food lover up for a food-fuelled adventure that spans 2000 years of culinary history.
During this 4-hour tour hosted by a local resident and passionate foodie, we sampled several traditional Turkish dishes with everything from pide to Konya wedding soup to kororec (a snack made of intestines and offal said to cure even the worst hangover) and met many fascinating local producers, chefs, cooks and residents along the way.
Istanbul Travel Planner
More info: Learn more about the Ciragan Palace Kempinski Palace by visiting the Kempinski Hotel website.
Cost: The price for this luxury stay is more affordable than you might expect. A quick scan on the Hotelscombined.com website for the cost for two adults for one night on the prime date of Valentine’s Day on February 14, 2017 quotes a price of $283 CAD, a discount off the rack rate of $429.
If you’re planning a bucket list getaway you can’t go wrong with the best luxury hotel in Istanbul. To save money, it’s worth checking the cost for Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel for your travel dates on the Hotelscombined.com website, a free tool that compares several hotel booking sites such as Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com and finds the lowest price. It might be more affordable than you think, especially since the rate often includes breakfast.
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Turkey Visa Requirements: Note that if you’re from Canada (and many other countries) you need a visa to travel to Turkey. Fortunately you don’t have to stand in line at an embassy to get one. You can get one online at the Republic of Turkey official e-Visa website.
Related: If you’re looking for a country where you don’t require a visa, check this list of visa-free countries for Canadian Passport Holders.
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