You can certainly find more popular tourist haunts in İstanbul — Nişantaşı for high-end shopping, Sultanahmet for eras-old cultural sights, and Cihangir for the hippest happenings — but it’s still the very central, very crowded Taksim that acts as the literal and figurative heart of this cosmopolitan city.
Taksim made worldwide news in 2013 when locals protested the planned destruction of Gezi Park, one of the oldest and last remaining green spaces in the neighborhood, into a commercial development. Things have since calmed down, but Taksim remains the social and cultural nucleus of İstanbul.
Truly, there is no better place to get a feel for the buzz of the city than in Taksim. It’s the main transportation hub of İstanbul, and being here at rush hour overloads the senses: İstanbul receives more than a million people on a weekday to work. Most of them do so through Taksim Square, which houses the city’s major train and bus depots. The same is true for İstiklâl Caddesi, the busiest shopping thoroughfare in İstanbul which, except for a historic tram that goes from Taksim Square to Tünel Square, is a pedestrian boulevard dotted with high-street boutiques, musicians, late-night clubs and restaurants. The stylish rooftop 360 Istanbul restaurant-bar-lounge offers outstanding views of İstanbul and, if the time is right, of national and international celebrities.
İstiklâl’s side streets are just as jam-packed for exploration. Fıccın is a cozy eatery well known for traditional Turkish cuisine. The mantı, a local stuffed pasta, is particularly delicious with a garlicky sauce and peppered oil.
Much of İstanbul’s contemporary cultural scene also thrives in this neighborhood. SALT, an organization focused on creative innovations, transformed a six-story apartment building into 12,000-plus square feet of exhibition space and also includes a cinema, a rooftop garden, a bookstore and more. Arter, another art space for hot Turkish talents, occupies an early 20th-century mansion and has hosted exhibitions from the likes of the interdisciplinary artist Volkan Aslan and Füsun Onur, known for her avant-garde sculptures. The Atatürk Cultural Center is closed for renovations but will add even more cultural cache to Taksim as soon as it reopens.
If you want to stay close to all this action, the Martı İstanbul Hotel, which opened in 2012 with interiors overseen by acclaimed designer Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu, offers tranquil respite from the district’s frenetic energy: A relaxing courtyard and a 9,100-square-foot wellness center equipped with three hammams await.
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Anantara Chiang Mai, the deluxe resort on the banks of Thailand’s Mae Ping River, relaunched the city’s most famous high tea experience, served on the terrace of the 100-year-old British Consulate that today houses the resort’s Service 1921 Restaurant & Bar.
The Hotel Bel-Air hosts a new end-of-summer BBQ with Master Chef Wolfgang Puck on the lawn of the hotel. The event is back after a three-year hiatus, set to take place Sept. 6. Guests will be able to enjoy an evening featuring backyard-style barbeque and seasonal summer favorites.
IHG® Hotels & Resorts certainly has a lot to celebrate, starting with an incredible growth story. Over the past five years, IHG has acquired or launched six new brands: Six Senses® Hotels Resorts Spas, Regent® Hotels & Resorts, Vignette™ Collection, voco™ hotels, avid® hotels and Atwell Suites™. Most recently, IHG reached an important milestone with its 6,000th open hotel. The company looks to further expand its portfolio by 30 percent with 1,800 hotels in the development pipeline, with significant focus on growth in the luxury segment where IHG is positioned as one of the top two hotel chains.
The Oberoi, Marrakech introduces its new holistic wellness program, SAHA. Meaning health in Arabic, SAHA aims to help guests reach their full wellbeing potential. The program operates on four key cornerstones: soul & spirit, active body, holistic treatments and a better plate.
Global business travel is making its way back, even as the pandemic and other world events continue to challenge its return. In a recent poll from the Global Business Travel Association, more than four in five respondents (86 percent) from across the industry said they feel more optimistic than they did at the beginning of the year. Business travel bookings, the need to travel to do business and employee willingness to travel are all on the rise.
Emerald Cruises christened its newest Star-Ship, Emerald Luna, in a ceremony in Amsterdam as it prepares to sail the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers of Europe. Equipped to host up to 180 guests, Emerald Luna saw many members of Scenic Group, the parent company of Emerald Cruises, attend the ceremony, including U.S. travel industry advocate and educator Vanessa McGovern, who took honors as godmother during the ceremony.