20 October 2015

26th Birthday in Istanbul


WHAT Marti Hotel, Istanbul service of Excellence 
WHEN  19th October 2015
WHERE  Online

From the moment our plane touched down in Turkey I knew it would be a week-end to remember. Traveling with my best friend to visit my girlfriends, who went to University of the Arts with me, was an ideal birthday plan. I always make a point of traveling somewhere on my birthday as I feel it makes the occasion even more memorable.

As we came out into the arrivals hall I saw my name in lights on an iPad held by our driver. We were whisked into a gorgeous BMW and began our journey to cross two continents (Asia and Europe) over the Bosphorus Bridge. With its lights glittering and slowly changing colour, the bridge looked like a giant jewelled bracelet, not unlike the magnificent jewels at Topkapi Palace, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We arrived at the multiple award-winning Marti Istanbul Hotel and was greeted promptly by the hotel staff including our new friend Martha.  After checking in we decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant and were treated to a delicious meal, a bottle of champagne, and a freshly made birthday cake with my name on it. To say the least, it was a hospitable and considerate introduction to the hotel, and indeed the city of Istanbul.  

Martı Istanbul Hotel, an elegant new hotel located in Taksim, the shopping, cultural and commercial heart of the city and also home to foremost entertainment venues and bustling nightlife. This glamorous property is within easy reach to all major historic sites and ancient bazaars, as well as a short ride to the famed Bosphorus shores. Both new and repeat visitors to Istanbul, one of the world's most exciting destinations, will find a tempting new address in Martı Istanbul Hotel.  

After dinner we ventured up to the hotels roof-top bar where we were treated to a 360 degree view of the city. I have to say it was one aspect of the hotel that I think makes it unique. Everywhere we went in the hotel had magnificent views. Our suite and bathroom had expansive views of rooftops and mosques - their domes and minarets cutting arabesque shapes deep into the horizon. A view which could only be enhanced by the most spectacular sunsets.

Designed by internationally acclaimed interior designer Zeynep Fadillioglu, Martı Istanbul Hotel comprises 270 luxurious guest rooms and suites spread over 11 floors. Complemented by an imposing Atrium, this contemporary structure features unique touches that reflect the heritage of its setting. The Hotel offers a full range of luxury services and amenities, from tastefully appointed restaurants and generous meeting facilities to an exceptional, top-floor Spa.

The next night was my big birthday celebration and let’s just say, the hotel’s traditional Turkish bath we had the following morning, was the best remedy (if not the cure) for a late night. If cleanliness is next to godliness we had arrived at the gates of paradise! The ‘hammam’ lasted for over an hour (if not more) - I have to admit I fell asleep at one point during the bathing. Laying on a big slab of marble my lovely bather filled bowl, after bowl, of warm water to pour over me, round after round, of scrubbing and lathering of soaps and oils. My best friend and I agreed our skin had never felt so soft and even now, four days later, it is still soft and moisturised.  

The next day we ventured to the Topkapi Palace where the Ottoman Sultans lived and ruled for over 400 years. There we saw jewels and opulence on a grand scale. One room was dedicated solely to house the sultan turbans – a room inlayed with tons of tortoise shell and mother pearl mosaics intricately carved windows with silk day beds beneath them. At the palace we had a birthday lunch of lamb which had been cooked for 4 hours and melted like butter in your mouth. In fact everywhere we went in Istanbul we enjoyed delicious fresh food, a colourful cuisine from aromatic rose desserts to robust griddled meats – yum.

Whilst we’re on the subject of food, I have to mention the bakery at the Marti Hotel Istanbul. As everyone knows macaroons are my kryptonite and when the hotel discovered this - I was sent up fresh macaroons almost every day. The breakfast bar was overflowing with fresh pastries, deserts, blocks of honey comb, even a chef to cook you an individual omelette... breakfast was definitely worth getting up for- lol.

Our last night in town happened to coincide with Istanbul Fashion Week. Well you can imagine how excited I was to see this. After my meeting with the hotel’s manager Bozkurt Atabek, I discovered the Marti Istanbul Hotel was one of the sponsors of  Istanbul Fashion Week and he surprised us with tickets to two shows! See my interview with him below:

1) What's different from Marti hotel comparison to others?

Its a unique boutique hotel, quiet artistic with amazing service. All the suites are unique and offer a Turkish Hamam inside them with gorgeous view of Istanbul that no other hotel has. It has that contemporary Ottoman suite. We only use the best products such Molton Brown product in our guest bathrooms and in the spa we use Espa products.

We have received many awards in the last two years including the prestigious The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences award which only three hotels have received. 

2) Do you think the online world is beneficial for the hotels?

Of course, In the last 5-10 years everything has become a digital platform. Its huge from consumer research to reading reviews. Even the websites have to become visual and have a signature online as they say a picture speaks a thousand words. I would say the online word has control on over 90% of sales 10% probably word of mouth and service.

3) Any famous people stayed at Marti Hotel?

So many of course. International ones such as Orlando Bloom, Stephen Baldwin, Michael Madsen and many many more.

 After arriving at Istanbul Modern (Istanbul’s modern art gallery) we were greeted by Feride Tansun. Sadly we had missed our first show as we had not anticipated the heavy traffic we encountered en route. Note to travellers: 15 million people live in 20% of the city – so the traffic is a nightmare! She kindly escorted us to the Mercedes Benz Press Lounge where we met Nina Mayweather, the Fashion Editor for The Guide Istanbul. Remarkably she invited us both to another show for designers (and sisters) Raisa & Vanessa Sason - held at a horse-back riding arena. There we mingled and danced the night away at the after party.  

A trip to Istanbul wouldn’t have been complete with a visit to the Grand Bazaar - the world oldest shopping mall! I should have seen it coming, but, dressing down just isn’t how I roll. A mini riot broke out in the Bazaar with people flocking to take a picture with me! Luckily I managed to escape the crowds, and ducked into a stall, where I haggled for some beautiful scarves and jewellery for my loved ones.

After saying goodbye to my best girlfriends we, were driven back to the airport by the hotels private driver, who regaled us with stories of encounters with politicians, princesses, and movie stars. As we touched down in London I awoke and rubbed my eyes wondering if I had been in a beautiful dream this whole time – but soon realised it had been reality and that I would be dreaming of returning to Istanbul for a very long time to come.

I have to say Marti Hotel is one of my favourite hotels in the world. I can't emphasis enough that this is a hotel worth staying and checking out before traveling to Istanbul.

P.S. I wanted to make a special mention to Grifco Co. and we loved meeting Marta so much and felt as if we had made a new friend during our stay! Marti Hotel Istanbul should consider themselves very lucky to have such a passionate and genuine member of staff. Another special thank you to the entire team at Marti Hotel & Bozkut, Esra and Dogan. 


Address: Abdülhak Hamit Cad. No:25/B Taksim İstanbul - Türkiye

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