Publisher’s pick – Bosphorus dreaming

I am attending a conference in Istanbul. Normally I would not stay in a large, chain hotel in a foreign city – preferring instead to stay in a smaller inn or family-run accommodation. On the advice of a friend, who knows the location of the Istanbul Hilton, I not only book it, but also pay the extra for a room with a view.
And what a view!

The Bosphorus is the stretch of steel-blue water which separates the European half of Istanbul from the Asian half. The Hilton, the first five star hotel to be built in Istanbul, sits on the northern shore of the Bosphorus. From my balcony I can see all manner of watercraft gliding past; small pleasure boats, local ferries, fishing boats and massive container ships with mysterious names and unknown destinations. If only I wasn’t here to work, I would spend hours gazing out on this never-ceasing flow of trade, connecting the wealthier nations of the west with the razzle-dazzle of the East. Situated in the upmarket Taksim district, this Hilton is not your stock, standard large hotel. Put simply, it is gorgeous. First built in 1954, it boasts marble floors, oriental antiques, 13-acres of gardens and a ton of personality. The ground floor features displays of old black and white shots of impossibly glamorous movie stars such as Liz Taylor, Ava Gardner and Tony Curtis, many of whom were photographed arriving at the première of Topkapi, the jewellery heist movie set in Istanbul in 1964.
I am here at Christmas time and there’s even a full size Gingerbread House which you can visit – or eat!
Don’t do as I do, do as I say. Go to Istanbul, book a Hilton room with a view – but don’t make sure you don’t need to work, just play.

Why the Istanbul Hilton is my pick…

• Price – if you use Expedia or Venere search engines, there are some more-than-reasonable room rates available
• Breakfast – in the very stylish Bosphorus Terrace Restaurant with a great view and a lavish spread – this has to be one of the best breakfast spots in the world
• The executive floor – again the view, this time of Istanbul at dusk, with a glass of local wine and Turkish delicacies is simply sublime
• Service – the staff are extremely attentive
• Newsletter – a daily newsletter shares interesting activities, great deals and titbits of history even the guidebooks haven’t heard about

Hilton Istanbul
Cumhuriyet Caddesi Harbiye, Istanbul, Turkey 34367
Tel: 90-212-315-6000 Fax: 90-212-240-4165

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