Luxury At Its Very Best: Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul – Hotel Review
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Luxury At Its Very Best: Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul – Hotel Review

Alanna Ospina checks out this new hotel

‘Culture is the foundation stone of the Turkish Republic,’ said Atatürk, the founding father of the Republic of Turkey, which celebrates its centenary this year – and he had a point. After centuries of imperial rule, the city of Istanbul is a dazzling blend of Byzantine, Genoese, Ottoman and Turkish architecture, food, and traditions. The constant is the mighty Bosphorus Strait flowing as a life blood through the city: an ancient trading route, a river connecting Asia to Europe, and on whose banks lies a new modern palace, the Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul.

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Hotel Review: Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul

Best Time To Visit Istanbul

Istanbul’s climate is temperate year-round but, to avoid the crowds, visit outside the summer months (June–September). 

The exterior of the Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul

(© Kate Woods)

STAY

Situated between Ottoman palaces of varying splendour and opulence, the latest hotel by luxury hotel group, Mandarin Oriental, fits right into its enviable riverside location in one of the city’s smartest neighbourhoods, Kurucesme. Its sweeping entrance makes way to a 100-bedroom property where every detail has been carefully curated by international design firm, Tihany Design, to reflect the hotel’s unique surroundings, the city’s rich Ottoman heritage, and the brand’s oriental DNA. 

Look up in the reception and see a curvaceous wooden installation inspired by the waves of the Bosphorus. A modernised geometric motif of the Turkish tulip, an important symbol of the Ottoman’s Tulip Era, features in each bedroom and across the public spaces. A giant ethereal chandelier in the lobby, Nuage, is designed by Concept Verre, a company that produces bespoke designs for sultans and palaces. One can’t help but feel heady at the delicious scent that has been curated for the hotel by Fiolas. 

A bed in the hotel

(© Kate Woods)

The Royal Bosphorus Suite is one of the biggest in Istanbul and is positively palatial, but even the entry level rooms at the Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus are enough to make you feel like a veritable Sultan or Sultanah. The finest Italian marble has been used across the property in combination with careful Turkish craftsmanship, and find divine Diptyque products in the bathrooms. Erdem Moralioglu, one of the fashion world’s darlings has designed the hotel’s famous fan. This is luxury at its very best.

EAT

Each of the Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus’ two restaurants, Olea and Novikov, are strategically placed beside the Bosphorus, providing captivating views throughout the day, from morning sunshine twinkling off the waves to the bright city lights illuminating the skyline at night. 

Drinking by the Bosphorus

(© Kate Woods)

Olea is inspired by Italian family dishes with a contemporary twist, using the freshest of ingredients to create bold and delicate flavours; we recommend the Burrata e Pomodorini and Pizza Tartufata. Next door, Olea’s Bar serves original cocktails and delicious snacks. 

International restaurant brand, Novikov – originally launched in London in 2011 – has opened its doors here, too, offering an all-day menu of Asian, Mediterranean and Italian fusion cuisine. The daily fish selection is always a winner, as is the wild seabass and coriander and prawn tempura avocado. 

The hotel’s GM, Harun Darsun, was Turkey’s first official sommelier, so expect a diverse selection of wines on the menu, including some surprising Turkish numbers. A new Hakkasan restaurant is set to open in summer 2023, creating a triumvirate of excellent dining opportunities for hotel guests and well-heeled Istanbulites alike.

Novikov menu

(© Kate Woods)

DO

At least half a day in Istanbul should be set aside to indulge in The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, with its spacious 3,500 sqm sanctuary wrapped around a Zen garden, offering some of the most luxurious and comprehensive beauty, health and wellness programmes in the city. You can’t come to Istanbul and not have a hammam treatment, and the hammam here is one of the most magnificent to be soaped, scrubbed and soaked in. There is a pilates and yoga studio, heated indoor pool and well-equipped gym, too. 

Organise a city tour with the concierge to get behind the scenes experiences, from scaling the rooftops of the Grand Bazaar to a yacht ride down the Bosphorus. Istanbul is bursting with things to do, so pace yourself: the Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cisterna, and Grand Bazaar are a must, with a stop at Lokanta 1741 for lunch, an innovative and delicious interpretation of modern Turkish cuisine in the setting of a 300 year old hammam. For a chic evening dining experience, head to Frankie in Nisantasi for panoramic views and flavourful Mediterranean dishes – sharing encouraged.

Outdoor seating at the Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus

(© Kate Woods)

What To Buy In Istanbul

Firstly, pomegranates – a Turkish icon, a sign of abundance and fertility. Nakkas is an emporium of the country’s finest products, with a floor dedicated to Izmir ceramics, and multiple floors featuring exquisite carpets. Head to the roof terrace for some of the best views of the city. 

Or, head to the Grand Bazaar to practise your haggling skills and be overwhelmed by the sheer number of shops (3,700 to be precise) selling carpets, ceramics, backgammon boards and knock-off designer handbags. 

Final Word

The Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus is a contemporary palace with a spa, and a riverside dining destination that exceeds expectations. It’s a hotel with soul, rooted in the heritage and location of Istanbul, reflecting the very best of its past and setting a new precedent for the future of hospitality in the city.

BOOK IT

Rooms from €925 per night. mandarinoriental.com

Featured image courtesy of Getty.