My first two-week visit to Turkey included the thrilling opportunity to stay at the iconic Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, the only Ottoman Imperial palace and hotel where Sultans once lived. It served as the Ottoman Empire’s first Parliament from its completion in 1871 until 1910, when it burned to the ground. After a meticulous reconstruction, Kempinski — Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group — opened the exquisite Çırağan Palace Kempinski in 1991.
The concierge arranged Meet & Greet escorts for my friend and I. From the concierge desk, we were escorted by golf cart to the Palace Building, a historic landmark which houses 11 extraordinary suites; ours was a grand corner suite where the large living room featured six enormous windows overlooking the Bosporus. The room included a large, square coffee table topped with a myriad of glass-domed jars and platters filled with traditional sweets. The ceilings are so high, they accommodate a second-floor loft, where the amazing waterscape is on view through the bedroom’s glass walls.
This vast palace building with its glorious architectural details is the venue for fine dining and extravagant events. Notably, it’s where the country’s most prestigious people host gala events in private rooms surrounding a striking staircase with crystal railings under an enormous crystal chandelier; the original hammam Sultans once used is even available for private functions. The palace’s two waterfront restaurants are open to the public: the opulent Tugra, with its authentic, gourmet Ottoman cuisine; and Italian eatery Bellini Pasta.
Outdoors, palm-tree lined paths and gardens, an imposing arch, swimming pools, outdoor dining and a seafront helipad line the waterfront promenade and lead to the adjacent contemporary, six-story waterfront structure constructed with similar proportions. This main building houses grand public spaces including lounges, a promenade lined with fine specialty shops featuring bespoke clothing, fine and fun jewels and authentic carpets, and all-day dining outlets. Most of the 310 accommodations are on its upper levels.
At our first elaborate Ottoman-style breakfast, our table was set with a bevy of items even before the server took our order for dishes: slow-cooked, dried fruits; charcuterie; Anatolian cheeses; tomato; lettuce and cucumbers; honey; and a variety of breads and pastries. The next day, we indulged in an extravagant breakfast buffet, where glass vitrines showcased freshly squeezed fruit juices; vegetables; olives; smoked fish and sushi; hot dishes; meats; pastries; and typical Ottoman-style delights, such as roasted walnuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios and a large square of raw, pure honey on the comb.
Some Turkish fare was brand new to me: freshly squeezed pomegranate juice; sesame and salt-topped, braided, bagel-shaped, Simit breads; and a spicy dried-tomato and walnut pesto. At lunch, the Meze Platter included appetizers from hummus to stuffed grape leaves — and Pide, a meat-topped, pizza-like pie served as a double-decker.
I had time for a swim in the indoor pool before our scheduled Turkish Bath Ritual at Sanitas Spa. Two Thai therapists — each wrapped in oversized, Turkish-cotton towels and wearing Croc-like rubber shoes — ushered us into the hammam and on to twin mattresses. The service began with neck-to-toe loofah scrubs followed by a soft, warm foam massage. A full-body massage, using oil, followed. At the end, we were led to a bench in an ante-room, where two therapists stood side by side and flipped large white towels up and down, to cool us.
The most seasoned travelers I know adore Çırağan Palace Kempinski; obviously, so do I.
Yıldız, Çırağan Cd. No:32
34349 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Türkiye
tel 90 212 326 46 46
It’s entirely possible France’s most noteworthy eateries define the term “destination restaurant.” Examples of how some of the more enduring Paris restaurants have approached this is compelling. While hot spots like Le Drugstore changed with the times and tastes of clientele, others, like Café de la Paix, steadfastly stay true to the roots and recipes that have delighted guests for generations.
Reconnecting the World: GBTA Convention 2023 Spotlights the Vital Role of Business Travel and In-Person Connection
In an increasingly digital and interconnected world, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention remains an indispensable platform for business travel industry professionals seeking to make the most of the power of face-to-face connections. Taking place August 13–15 in Dallas, the 2023 GBTA Convention provides the unique opportunity for professionals and companies to join visionaries, thought leaders and industry experts for meaningful networking, cutting-edge insights and inspiring innovation.
In 2025, Riviera River Cruises will launch two ships with sailing itineraries on Europe’s Danube and Douro rivers. Riviera Radiance will sail the Danube and offer six itineraries, including one exclusively for solo travelers, and three holiday itineraries. Riviera Rose will be based on the Douro River and sail one itinerary.
Don’t risk losing all the money you’ve spent if you must cancel your trip at the last minute. Allianz Travel Insurance can give you:
PONANT and Smithsonian Journeys unveiled several new itineraries for 2025, covering destinations like the Canary Islands, Tunisia and Mallorca. The 30 new itineraries will feature notable experts and experiences embracing local cultures, each diving deep into a destination’s history, cuisine, language, environment and wildlife.
Condor Airlines recently introduced Condor Cards, a membership program that allows frequent Condor passengers to receive additional benefits. The two card options include World Activity Card, tailored to the needs of sports enthusiasts, and World Family Card, offering benefits for families or friends traveling together on vacation.
Nashville’s once-modest skyline continues to evolve as its luxury market grows. Lavish hotel properties are added to the landscape while acclaimed chefs stake claim in the robust culinary scene and premier cultural offerings round out the city’s repertoire.