Istanbul: Cool Four Seasons at The Bosphorus takes Reservations

Istanbul Four Seasons Under Construction
Istanbul Four Seasons Bosphorus Under Construction

Back in September, 2007 I was on a boat tour over the Bosphorus and our guide told us that this is the new (second) Istanbul Four Seasons at The Bosporus. I took this photo while thinking it would be an excellent place to stay once.
Through its website I learned that it is taking reservations as of June 15, 2008. however when you check it out, it may be a little bit later.

One of their first photos proves me right:

Istanbul Four Seasons at The Bosphorus View
An Istanbul Four Seasons Bosphorus room view

They are very conveniently located here:

Istanbul Four Seasons At The Bosphorus Location

They have 141 guest rooms and 25 suites in a striking blend of Ottoman design and contemporary mahogany furnishings. Nearly a quarter of the rooms offer views across the legendary Bosphorus to the hills of Asia.

Street Art (3): Istanbul – Burberry Shop

Burberry Shop Istanbul Photo shopped
Burberry Shop Istanbul Photo shopped

I am futzing around with Adobe Photo shop for quite some time now. Only after obtaining CS3 my computer doesn’t hang as much any more. Today I got a bit more grip on lens correction. The result is the above photo which is as I had it in mind when I took it with my old Canon Powershot G5, which isn’t a bad camera at all, but has its impracticalities.

Below is the original, a bit out of perspective.

Burberry Shop Istanbul Original

I don’t particularly like Burberry as a brand, because it never seems to change. Here however their architect did something nice. That’s why I have coined it street “Art” .

Istanbul Museum of Modern Art: Times Present Times Past

We visited the 10th Istanbul Biennial. On that occasion the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art had a temporary exhibition on the whole ground floor called “Times Present Times Past” with an overview of the 9 past Biennials.

The building itself is excellently located on the Bosphorus. I was mezmerized by the restaurant and bar: what a stunning view over the Bosphorus while having a lunch or simply an expresso (or Turkish Coffee).

What struck me most were four photo’s of Shirin Neshat from her series “Woman of Allah”.

Woman of Allah
One of the four exhibited
Photo © Shirin Neshat

As one of the most controversial of contemporary artists, Shirin Neshat will participate in the exhibition with her works from her series Women of Allah, which was part of the 4th İstanbul Biennial in 1995. In René Block’s biennial, Neshat’s work was introduced to the international community and widely discussed. The Iranian-American artist, who participated in the 4th, 5th and 8th İstanbul Biennials, was recognized internationally after her Women of Allah series, in which she used the images of Iranian revolutionary women who were ready to die for their convictions and combined a poetic expression with a problematical political content. Neshat left Iran in 1979 at the time of the Iranian revolution to resume her studies in the U.S.A. and had to live in exile until 1990. When she returned to her country after having spent 11 years in the U.S.A, she began questioning the role of women in the public sphere under the Islamic regime; in the series Women of Allah, which she produced between 1993 and 1997, she concentrated on issues relating to womens’ body, text and political action.

Immediately I associated these photos with the film Submission made by then controversial member of Dutch Parliament and current Bush think tank associate Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh, a distant relative of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh who was murdered after the film was presented.
Last edited by GJE on December 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Istanbul and the art of booking a hotel online: Nothing Zen! Part 4

Istanbul View Golden Horn
Istanbul: View of the Golden Horn.
A Turk singer and three Derwish
dancers preparing for a video shoot
Photo © Happy Hotelier

I just returned from a week’s trip to Istanbul with a group of 26 and a lot of information to share with you.

Trip and organization

First I would like to address the actual travel details.

We flew with KLM (a flight shared with KLM’s partner NW) directly from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Istanbul Attaturk Airport without any delay.The fact that KLM is now a subsidiary of Air France apparently did something good to KLM: Flying in time. Flight attendants who behave much more gracious and hospitable and even the food simple, but better than I remember from years ago, when I used to fly business class and decided not to fly KLM anymore due to exorbitant rates, very unfriendly flight attendants, and horrible food and had handed my frequent flier card in. Kudos for KLM!

The trip was partly booked through a Travel Agent No Beach. They also did a wonderful job in getting the group transferred by private couch from and to the airport, provided two nice guides fro some sightseeing, fully bilingual in Turkish and Dutch (to be more precise: one was speaking with a Flemish tongue, the Belgian version of Dutch). They organized some intermediate transport by coach and ferry to a nice restaurant at the Asian side of the Bosphorus and finally the transfer back to the airport. They made the hotel reservations solved some issues arising from an an overbooked hotel. All in all very conveniently organized. Once more the experience convinced me that for a group you should rely on an experienced travel agent and not on your own time consuming Internet rummaging and the hassle of negotiating with hotels you don’t know. Kudos for No Beach!

Hotels
As the frequent reader may remember from the two previous posts in this series, Part 1 in January and Part 2 in April, we had arrived at a shortlist of a couple of hotels:

Lady Diana Roof View
Hotel Lady Diana
Photo © Happy Hotelier
Celal Sultan Front
Celal Sultan Hotel front
Photo © Happy Hotelier

It turned out that part of the group stayed a couple of days in Lady Diana and I would suggest that as the hotel to stay in when you like to be in the old center and in the walking vicinity of several of Istanbul’s highlights, several good restaurants and in the vicinity of a very easy cross city tram by which you can avoid the car congestions you will face when taking a taxi (apart from the fact that almost every taxi driver tries to make enormous detours to jinn up his bill).

I myself stayed in The Celal Sultan Hotel fro the whole week. The owner lives in Belgium (hence the Dutch spoken) and the hotel has being decorated by a Belgian interior decorator. This is a very nice hotel, very nice staff, good service and good amenities, a cozy lounge and two nice roof terraces with view on the Aya Sophia, but we stayed in a standard room which is more the size of a room in a Pod Hotel than of a decent hotel room, which is a bit too much if you are used to 75 sqm suites in your own hotel. Their superior rooms have the usual 4 star size and are acceptable.

The main reason for my verdict in favor of the Lady Diana is that their roof terrace is much more spacious and spectacular than that of the Celal Sultan with a far better view over the city, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara with the possibility to have breakfast on the roof. The Celal website is the best of the three. It gives good photo impressions of its interior, but is scarce in giving rates and prices. They should upload newer photo’s of their renovated roof terraces. At least the rack rates I saw announced in the lounge of the Ceal Sultan are higher than the rack rates of the Lady Diana published on their website. As everything in Istanbul one should negotiate the best rates.

Kybele Front
The Kybele Hotel Front view with owner in red and rosa
Photo © Happy Hotelier

The Kybele Hotel is just located between the two others and is also a very nice place for a drink, a lunch or a diner. It has a street terrace and a nice and cosy inner court terrace, without view, and is probably the cheapest of the three. I did not actually see their rooms, but I like the owner who decorated the hotel with thousands of small Turkish lamps (which he sells off course) and who, when we were looking at an Europa Cup football match between Istanbul’s Fenerbace and AC Milan, wore an AC Milan shirt, but was very satisfied that Fenerbace won 1-0 against AC Milan, the 2006 Europa Cup winner.

Istanbul and the art of booking a hotel online: Nothing Zen! Part 2

After publishing part 1 of this story, I asked my friend the frequently traveling CEO, for suggestions, but alas he had no other suggestions than only Istanbul’s most expensive and luxury top hotels. So there I go with my conclusion in part 1.

My lady friend who organizes the trip for “Art en Route” came up with a travel agency that suggested following hotels:

and

Finally, however, on suggestion of the travel agent, a reservation has been made at the Celal Sultan Hotel.

We will see what will happen and I will keep you posted later this year.

Just for now I would like to conclude that at least for group travel a travel agent still seems a better bet than a DIY reservation. Especially because various hotels put only a small number of rooms available through travel portals or even through their own website, or have no possibilities to book well in advance.