Stay the night: A'jia Hotel, Istanbul

Adrian Mourby glides by the congested city on a river taxi ride to this elegant boutique hotel

A'jia means Asia, an appropriate name for one of the first buildings that visitors to Istanbul encounter when they cross to the Asian side of the Bosphorus.

Recently, this luxurious all-white boutique hotel has found a splendid new way to help guests to avoid Istanbul's nightmarish traffic jams. A romantic weekend in one of the greatest cities in Europe (and Asia) can all too easily be wrecked by two hours spent crawling into the city by car from Ataturk International.

Everyone admits the traffic is getting worse, so, making the most of its position on the waterside, A'jia will now send a polished water taxi to collect you. The transfer price is €150, which is twice what an ordinary taxi might cost, but the journey time is halved and the view of Istanbul, as you glide along, is simply superb.

The hotel itself is a refurbished yal (Turkish for house or mansion on the waterside). It was built in the 19th century for Ahmet Rasim Pasha, who in 1873 was appointed mayor and chief of police in Istanbul. In 2002, a local businessman named Serdar Bilgili bought the derelict yal and converted it into a small luxury hotel which has since hosted such celebrities as Salma Hayek, Bryan Ferry, Mike Tyson and Bill Clinton.

The architect was Resit Soley, another remarkably energetic figure in Istanbul. In his spare time, Soley has turned the Aegean island of Bozcaada into a winery of note under his own Corvus label.

The rooms

The hotel has 16 rooms and all but one of them have views of the Bosphorus. The Pasha Suite is where celebrities try to stay, for its gracious central balcony on to the waterfront. Equally impressive, though, is the Mezzanine suite, which makes great use of the traditional high ceilings of Istanbul's summer houses. All rooms have calm white interiors, natural wool flooring, Turkish rugs and retro armchairs. The televisions all come with DVD players and movies are available from reception for free. Bed linen is Italian and so are the toiletries, by Acqua di Parma.

The food and drink

Hasan Karabulut, late of the Framissima Beach resort, Hurghada, and Casa Dell'Arte, Bodrum's first boutique art hotel, oversees the A'jia Restaurant. This is based in the original owner's dining room but spills out in the summer to feed up to 250 people on the terraces. Waiters in white shirts and black bowties take a genial interest in guests and work from a menu that specialises in Italian and other Mediterranean food. Signature dishes include caramelised rib of beef and lamb shank confit. The wine list has a good range of Californian reds as well as some good (but not inexpensive) French whites. The cheaper – but increasingly well regarded – option is Turkish wines, such as Kavaklidere Bogazkere and Doluca Okuzgozu. Expect to pay €42 (£35) per person, excluding wine.

The extras

A'jia offers free transfers across the river Bosphorus from Istanbul's European quaysides. Pick-up points are in Emirgan, Istinye, Rumeli, Hisari and Bebek. There is no gym, but in-room massages can be arranged at a rate of €100 for two hours. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel.

The access

Children are welcome. Pets are not. There is good access for guests with disabilities throughout the hotel, a lift to all floors, plus one specially modified room. However, boat transfers would not be possible for anyone in a wheelchair.

The bill

Double rooms from €227 per night. Breakfast is €18 (£15) per person. Elixir Holidays (020-7722 2288; elixirholi days.com) offers a three-night package for £960 per person, including boat transfers from Ataturk International, all breakfasts, and one dinner with local wine

The address

A'jia Hotel, Cubuklu Caddessi 27, Istanbul, Turkey (00 90 216 413 9300; ajiahotel.com).

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory