The Hedonist: Bar-hopping in Istanbul
What to see and where to be seen
Friday 13 July 2012
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
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 5 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
Natural wonders in the UK: From Giant's Causeway to Durdle Door
Flight from Britain to Turkey delayed by 7 hours after champagne cork damages ceiling
Exclusive Escapes: Upmarket holiday company goes bust on the eve of bank holiday weekend
What's it like on board North Korean airline Air Koryo - the worst in the world?
The most powerful passports in the world
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...
£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...