Last night, Mrs Smith dreamed of spices and sultans, of honeyed pastries and perfumed harems, of hammams, baklava and Byzantine domes. In obedience to her every desire, this week we’re Bosphorus-bound, lusting after a wave-lapped, gracious and grand ex-pasha’s mansion in mysterious Istanbul, Turkey.
Style: Contemporary Ottoman
Setting: Banks of the Bosphorus
Why this week?
Every day, our dream of becoming a pasha (or marrying one) gets less and less likely. Realistically, a stay in an ex-pasha’s mansion is the closest we’ll ever get to our own slice of the Ottoman Empire. Also, Christmas is still a few months away (phew), but we’re already hankering after a special treat, and with the hotel’s current two-for-one offer, this gift-to-self will come guilt-free.
Our favourite bits?
We love the A’jia Hotel’s dazzling white glam and unabashed grandeur, its understated, modern luxury, its cool and cooling bedrooms and palatial bathrooms in gorgeous creamy marble and tile. Top points go to Room 8, which has a huge balcony (perfect for pretending you own the place) and beautiful views over the Bosphorus. The hotel’s teetering-on-the-edge-of-Istanbul location, sea-facing, outdoor dining area and the lip-lickingly good Sunday brunch aren’t bad either.
Mr & Mrs Smith say:
‘The A’jia Hotel is one of the new wave of boutique hotels in Istanbul and sits on the Asian shore, half an hour away from the mayhem of the centre. Slowly the crowds and chaos begin to give way to lush green gardens and waterside mansions, and we pull up at a discreet set of iron gates. It’s an ex-pasha’s mansion right on the magnificent Bosphorus, but its grand Ottoman exterior belies a contemporary interior of slick modern design. There’s not a kilim or belly-dancer’s tassel in sight, just chic white-on-white glamour. A vast foyer contains nothing but marble and golden sunlight and quietly attentive check-in staff. We soon discover the A’jia’s policy is to leave you to your own devices, unless of course there’s anything at all you might require.
The understated, modern luxury continues in the sparse, cool bedroom. A wall of windows makes it feel as though it’s floating above the Bosphorus before a distant shimmering shore. Geometrical white armchairs are arranged across rich dark wood floors but we’re most impressed with the centrepiece: an enormous bed with the crispest, coolest sheets of Egyptian cotton.’