February 09, 2011

Cool Istanbul

The largest city in Turkey, and for centuries the confluence of East and West, is now just a budget flight away. Vanessa Able, editor of Time Out Istanbul, reveals the smartest places to stay, eat and party


In Istanbul, history and tradition are piled layer upon layer. Stately palaces, mosques and cathedrals lie beside chaotic bazaars, steaming hamams and poky nargile (hookah) joints. Ottoman Constantinople sits easily with ancient Byzantium, but emerging on top of them is a new stratum: Istanbul the cool.

In the past decade, development has transformed ghetto-like no-go zones into hip and vibrant neighbourhoods whose stylish clientele spill out into the streets, eating and drinking until the small hours. Clubs, bars, cafes, restaurants, shops, hotels and galleries are springing up at an explosive pace.

If you go to Istanbul expecting belly dancers, you might be surprised to find yourself watching the sunrise at a nightclub on the Bosphorus; if you imagine a diet of greasy kebabs, you'll be stunned at the range of haute cuisine options fusing traditional Turkish food with cutting-edge international styles. And if your idea of shacking up in Istanbul is a second-rate pension, you'll be amazed at the range of chic, sassy and downright sexy boutique hotels you can stay at.

Read more on the Guardian: Cool Istanbul

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