Thursday, October 12, 2017

Holiday by the sea: Four Seasons Hotel at the Bosphorus, Istanbul

Goodbye to the Four Seasons Hotel at the Bosphorus, for now, and see you again

Christine Cunanan experiences the best of Istanbul at the Four Seasons Hotel at the Bosphorus

The Bosphorus is synonymous with the romance of Istanbul, a city straddling two continents and yet anchored on the waters that flow in from the Black Sea and eventually rush out to the Sea of Marmara, separating the continents of Europe and Asia.

Hotel on the Bosphorus

On the shores of this 32-kilometer narrow stretch of water, sometimes calm and occasionally tempestuous, the Four Seasons Bosphorus sits regally like a beautiful lady of the Ottoman Empire, practically a destination in itself, especially for frequent travelers to Istanbul like myself who wish to revisit the city in relaxed style.

Istanbul is full of great places to explore, both known and unknown. For art lovers, the city is bound to captivate them as it is a treasure trove of contemporary and modern art. Travelers looking for an artistic and culturally enriching stay in Istanbul should definitely check out the Park Hyatt Istanbul. 

With a clear views of Turkish skies from day to night, it's impossible for mind and body not to feel relaxed at the Four Seasons Bosphorus
I’d been to Turkey many times before; so on this particular trip, all I wanted to do was walk around the old neighborhoods of Galata and Karakoy discovering quirky shops and cool cafes, visit the Istanbul Modern, and then spend the rest of the time on R&R right by one of the most strategic waterways in the world.  

The advantageous position of the Four Seasons Bosphorus in Istanbul, so near the historic sights of Istanbul and also so comfortably away from it that the hustle and bustle seem centuries away, is most ideal for a relaxing holiday.

On the other hand, the Four Seasons Resort Marrakech may require some patience to reach, but we assure you that the hours-long drive is worth everything and more. See the captivating North African hotel that's a destination in itself in this article. 

The Bosphorus, of the most strategic waterways in the world 

Back in time 

For my stay, I chose a 2nd floor Palace Bosphorus room which is one of the most attractive rooms in the hotel. Located in the historic main building, a 19th century former Ottoman palace, it still had remnants of its grand old self, with unusually high ceilings and old-fashioned windows facing the Bosphorus so that I could see the Asian side and the Maiden tower in the distance.

Meanwhile the interiors were classic Turkish turn-of-the-century in feel – dark furniture and plush fabrics – although with all the magical gadgets of modern technology.

The best part of the day 

Within this oasis, one of my favorite rituals was partaking of the delicious breakfast buffet worthy of a Pasha at Aqua, the hotel’s contemporary Italian restaurant. 

I began my days in a wonderfully languid fashion at this sleek but cheerful venue, with freshly pressed pomegranate juice and a typical Turkish breakfast of assorted cheeses, clotted cream, olives, honey, and breads.

A common Turkish meal: a plate of marinated cold fish enjoyed as is, or with a side of bread

These alone are enough for most guests, but I could never resist sampling the extensive selection of marinated fish afterwards. Seeing the fish laid out so beautifully on large plates always made me hungry again.

Health and wellness, Turkish style

By the time I finished breakfast and the daily newspapers, it was almost time for lunch – which I always skipped in favor of clocking in the hours at the spa in an effort to regain youthfulness and vitality. Aside from the usual five-star hotel spa facilities, the hotel’s 2100-square meter marble spa offers a traditional Turkish hammam.

The spa had a wide range of treatments but I just had to book the Turkish hammam experience on one of these spa days, of course. This began with a short steam treatment followed by a body scrub, foaming wash and massage that ended just in time for afternoon tea in the hotel gardens where tables are set up right next to the sea so that on a beautifully sunny afternoon this was just about the best place to be.

An irresistible plate of seafood as one of my last meals at the Four Seasons Hotel at the Bosphorus 
Then, just like the pace of everything else in Istanbul, a city full of moments worth savouring slowly that slip by all too quickly, we were soon reluctantly calling it a day. 

All the while sitting at the same spot outdoors, afternoon tea seamlessly turned into sunset cocktails; and then darkness crept in and we walked a dozen or so meters back to Aqua, this time for an authentic Italian dinner of pasta, steaks and gelato cooked by an Italian chef, reportedly Istanbul’s best.

We’d been so mesmerized by our VIP seat on the grand show that is life on the Bosphorusone of the greatest attractions of Istanbul itself – that, ironically, the hours had ever so wonderfully slipped by unnoticed. And this is how it was everyday for the rest of our stay as well, until it was time to say goodbye to Istanbul and to the Four Seasons Bosphorus. 

Four Seasons Hotel at the Bosphorus

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