29-31 May, 2015
It was time for a city trip. A weekend in Istanbul was all we needed to get an injection of unmistakably Turkish charm. A place of two moods, of contrasts, of juxtapositions, which made it the perfect destination for our next travel story.
Once there, before we’d even ventured above ground, it was all undeniably worth it. We mostly stood entranced, losing all sense of time. We have no idea if it’s really the best city in Europe, but its power and aura simply does it for us.
Istanbul isn’t exactly short on mosques. In fact, the neighborhoods are slotted in-between them, which makes for spectacular scenery. But even given this glut, the city is something a little bit special. There’s a difference between impressive and magical. Many places are obviously impressive, and in most instances, they’re designed to be so. But this city was magical in the most simplistic way – and if you can’t fall under its charm, then heaven help.
Wandering through the many complexes squeezed into the old city, felt like a step back in time. Staring and gasping was simply not enough; if a building looked spectacular from the outside, then chances were it was inside too. And whenever the sightseeing fatigue started kicking in, or we had the impression that everything was just ‘too much’, we stopped and took a breath. Then started walking again.
You’d be hard-pushed to find a more beautiful hotel than the Mama Shelter one on Istiklal Avenue. Istanbul has a fair number of design-focused hotels, but Mama brings a vibe along with the flair that’s a step sideways from the norm. There’s always a dividing line between relaxed hip and try-hard cool chasing, and this hotel resolutely falls on the right side of that line. It just has it all: a young feel, cool interiors, and an amazing rooftop terrace.
But it’s not just the hotel decor that gets the look, the food does too, especially the breakfast, which was a fantastic start to our day. And, given that the hotel is in the heart of the most engaging quarter of Istanbul’s city centre, it is, for us, a heavyweight candidate for the title of Istanbul’s best hotel.
Our room? Huge, it was not. Cosy, it most certainly was. But it had everything we needed, including a super-comfortable bed, silence, and charm. Nothing felt scrimped on; it was definitely an individualistic, highly accomplished interpretation of elegance.
Magazine: Hello Mr.
Leather jacket: Acne Studios
Sneakers: Raf Simons Adidas
It’s easy enough to get an idea of Istanbul by walking around and ticking off the highlights. But once you get beyond the area where it’s all about mosques, the city starts to get a whole lot more interesting. The rest of our stroll through Istanbul was a case of having eyes opened. Istanbul’s art program is a success story with something new to see at every couple of blocks. Galleries popped up over and over again.
It’s just a few that really require a double take, however. We explored the best bits like Salt, Arter or Galerist, and uncovered a city you just want to know more about. Galleries are also something of a marvel when it comes to picking out good photo spots. But most of all, it’s a great art lesson, too.
There are some places in the world where, if you don’t put your hand in your pocket and do it properly, you’re just cheating yourself. And nowhere is most true than Istanbul. The are some places in the world that are spectacular because of their natural setting, whereas others are spectacular for entirely man-made reasons. And we seriously doubt that there are many cities in the world with a skyline as impressive as Istanbul’s.
Something about this city makes us feel alive.
Goodbye for now Istanbul, thanks for the great show.
Polo-shirt: Adidas / Jeans: Levi’s / Shoes: Converse
Shirt: Eton / Tee: Uniqlo / Shades: Super
Polo: Raf Simons / Shorts: Topman / Shoes: Raf Simons x Adidas
Jumper: Acne Studios / Trousers: Carin Wester / Shoes: Converse