The Hedonist: Bar-hopping in Istanbul

What to see and where to be seen

Ask anyone: they'll say the same thing. Istanbul is a historic city, where East meets West, leaving cultural legacies galore, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately, my holidays tend to be those where I return a shameful shade of grey from too many hours spent in a haze of fist-pumps and neon lights. Just this once, though, I decide to do things right. So, bumbag securely fastened, SPF30 smoothly applied, I join the sandal-wearing masses to see the cultural side of this city. I start with a walk around the Hagia Sofia, the soaring church-cum-mosque-cum-church again, but fatigue sets in, so I hop on a double-decker tour bus to see more sights (the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace were the obvious highlights).

I get off at Taksim Square and walk down the Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul's equivalent to Oxford Street. Suddenly I'm back in my element. Slipping off onto a cobblestone side street, I sit for a drink at Lokal Tunel (00 90 212 245 40 28; lokal-tunel.com), a smart-looking café at Tunel Meydanı 186a. Lokal is a popular watering hole with clued-up locals, which I discover when I strike up conversation with a few media types, who invite me for dinner. Well, a girl has to eat – and I'm done with sightseeing for the day.

We meet up at Karakoy Lokantasi (00 90 212 292 44 55; karakoylokantasi.com), a smart restaurant along the up-and-coming Karakoy dock area. The place is buzzing with groups of well-groomed diners nibbling on tiny dishes. It seems that no weekend meal here is complete without raki – an anise alcohol that's a national favourite. I take a sip and the liquorice flavour takes me back to my schooldays. In two minutes the first carafe is gone.

After hours of feasting and a lot more raki, we stumble out and head for aperitifs. By night, Istanbul seems to be even more abuzz. We make a beeline for 5Kat (00 90 212 293 37 74; 5kat.com) at Soganci Sokak 7, a rooftop bar with attractive martinis. But bar-hopping's the thing here, so we're swiftly on to another watering hole called Dulcinea (00 90 212 249 8753; dulcinea.org).

Fast forward a few hours and I am strobing to deep house in a tiny club called MiniMuzikhol (00 90 212 245 1996; minimuzikhol.com) back on Soganci Sokak. It is clearly the place to be. The room is packed with pursed-lipped hipsters.

Thank goodness I'm staying at the Georges Hotel (00 90 212 244 2423; georges.com), a new 20-room guesthouse. The informal, no-lobby policy means my fumbled 7am entrance is hardly noticed and the roof bar makes for an excellent nightcap before hitting my goose-down duvet.

I miss my 9am pick-up to tour the Bosphorus and decide to view it from a sunlounger instead. At the top of the Marmara Pera Hotel (00 90 212 334 03 00; themarmarahotels.com) on Mesrutiyet Caddesi, I find everything I need – a pool, a bed and a 360-degree view, way better than spending six hours crammed onto a tiny dinghy.

But my head still thumps, so I get a hammam spa treatment at Ian Schrager's Edition hotel (00 90 212 317 7700; editionhotels.com) on Buyukdere Caddesi 136. An hour later I'm squeaky clean, headache-free, and ready for round two.

The writer travelled to Istanbul with Pegasus Airlines (0845 0848 980; flypgs.com), which flies from Stansted twice daily from £134.98 return.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress and 100 others on 'master list' after massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
i100
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor