The Peninsula Istanbul

Incredible views from The Peninsula Istanbul

Christine Cunanan

Perched right along the Bosphorus, just at the end of Galata Bridge, the new The Peninsula Istanbul is a testament to luxury and fine taste in a city already known for its aesthetic elegance and sensibility. This opulent retreat, chosen the Best New Hotel in the World for 2023, was seamlessly put together from three port area buildings — including what was once Istanbul’s shipping and cruise terminal — plus an entirely new building.

From many of its premium rooms and suites, it offers unparalleled 180-degree views of an extraordinary panorama: the majestic Bosphorus with the bridges in the distance, the enchanting Asian Side, and the iconic silhouette of the historic district of Sultanahmet.


The luxury traveler may take such views for granted, thinking that many good hotels in this city will have the same. However, those of us who know Istanbul very well understand that such a remarkable trio of views from one’s in-room couch is practically unheard of elsewhere. There is always a trade-off. Furthermore, you have almost no choices if you wish to be within shouting distance of the boats plying the Bosphorus.


However, The Peninsula Istanbul seems to have defied all logic and laws of physics vis-a-vis Istanbul. It has managed to bring together under four roofs and one incredibly large underground spa, everything a fussy traveler might wish in an Istanbul hotel. It is even walking distance to the Old Town while remaining stylishly far enough away from it.


Each building has a different ambiance as well as unique interiors. Three are from the early 20th century while one is an entirely new building. But very cleverly, the designers have installed glass walkways to connect the buildings and kept the feeling of the original interiors as much as possible so that you are aware of the transition. They have also installed bronze plaques on the floors at the entrance that tell you the name of the building and exactly how old it is.


I stayed in the new building, which initially felt disappointing — who does not want to stay in a heritage building in Istanbul, after all — until I entered my suite with a corner enclosed in glass that instantly became the best place to be in the city on a beautiful day. And even on a cloudy or rainy one. So now this building is my favorite.

Typically of the new Peninsula hotels, this suite reeked of sophistication, refinement and technological ease. Yes, someone had taken the time here to make sure guests would not need a manual or to call the front desk in the middle of night because they did not know which button to push to turn off the foyer lights or the reading lamp.

Everything was easy and effortless here, and the views from every floor-to-ceiling window are just jawdropping. What a treat it was to see the outlines of the Topkapi and the Ayasofya, while watching the boats go by, over a room service breakfast every morning. The Bosphorus, a vital waterway steeped in history, stretches out majestically within shouting distance, providing an ever-changing tableau of maritime activity.


If there is a perfect way to start the day in Istanbul — or anywhere in this part of the world perhaps — this is it. But the joys of this suite do not end here. In fact, they just begin. As the day unfolds, the suite transforms into a front-row seat to the mesmerizing dance of colors on the rooftops of one of the word’s most beautiful cities. And it lasts throughout the day until sunset.

The suite at The Peninsula Istanbul

The warm hues of the sinking sun bathe Sultanahmet’s domes and minarets in a golden glow, casting a spellbinding aura over the ancient peninsula. The transition from day to night is a spectacle in itself, with the city’s lights shimmering like a constellation, creating an enchanting atmosphere that I never got tired of, during my week in Istanbul. A living canvas exists around you, changing with each moment so that you are transfixed.


Meanwhile, the interiors are meticulously designed. The designers chose a comfortable contemporary feel, opting for a harmonious fusion of modern elegance and timeless Turkish aesthetics. The color palette is tastefully curated, with muted tones accentuating the natural light that floods through the expansive windows, framing the breathtaking vistas beyond.


The suite at The Peninsula Istanbul

Being a new build allowed the architects and designers to create the kind of spacious sanctuary of comfort and indulgence that is perfectly aligned with their idea of a beautiful Istanbul suite. The living space is adorned with plush furnishings, carefully curated art pieces, and modern amenities. The bedroom, a sanctuary within a sanctuary, beckons with luxurious linens and an ambiance conducive to restful nights.


And let’s not forget the walk-in dressing room, which has become a Peninsula Hotel trademark. I could have happily lived in this corner alone.

My suite’s walk-in dressing room was as big as the guest room in most other hotels in this built-up city. It had a proper dressing room and three open wardrobes. Meanwhile, one side opened to a marble bathroom of about the same size. — and this was the real luxury in a suite with this word stamped all over it. Adorned in marble and equipped with gold fixtures, it is a spa-like retreat that provides a sanctuary for rejuvenation.


And wait. There’s more. A private balcony offers an alfresco haven to savor morning coffee while enjoying the water views.


As guests step into the world of The Peninsula Istanbul, they are welcomed with an impeccable sense of service. If you stay a few days, the doorman remembers your name and the concierge inquires about your visit to the Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar) upon your return. The housekeeping team know what kind of baklava you like and whether you prefer the curtains closed at turndown. The staff is attuned to the desires of discerning travelers who pass their main entrance so every moment is an experience tailored to satisfaction.

This is the kind of detail luxury travelers truly seek to feel at home.


By the way, don’t miss the Turkish breakfast of poached eggs in garlic-flavored olive oil, served with freshly baked Turkish pita bread. They are highly addictive. Even just for this wonderful breakfast, you will not want to leave The Peninsula Istanbul.

And when you do make a booking, it’s Suite 4201 rocked my world.


Formerly known as Galata, the Karakoy district has been a pivotal center of commerce and maritime activity since Byzantine times. Its strategic location at the confluence of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus made it an essential port, witnessing the ebb and flow of trade and cultures over hundreds of years. In the 19th century, during the Ottoman era, Karakoy flourished as a commercial and financial district, marked by the construction of grand buildings that still grace its streets today.

Karakoy’s allure today lies in its labyrinth if streets, where historic structures seamlessly blend with contemporary boutiques, cafes, and art galleries. The district has undergone a renaissance in recent years, attracting a creative and entrepreneurial community. Strolling through Karakoy, one encounters a fascinating juxtaposition of traditional Turkish architecture and cutting-edge design, a testament to the district’s ability to embrace its historical roots while also incorporating modernity.


The Peninsula Istanbul, strategically positioned in Karakoy, benefits from this dynamic backdrop. Guests find themselves surrounded by a plethora of cultural and culinary gems within walking distance. From the bustling Karakoy Pier with its ferry terminals to the lively fish market, every corner tells colorful stories.

The neighborhood’s culinary scene is also a delightful journey. Traditional meyhanes, serving delectable mezes, coexist with chic eateries offering contemporary interpretations of Anatolian dishes. Karakoy’s waterfront restaurants, overlooking the Bosphorus, provide an enchanting setting for a memorable dining experience.

In essence, Karakoy embodies the soul of Istanbul – a city that bridges continents and cultures.

Read more about The Peninsula Istanbul and what to do in Istanbul in Travelife Magazine.

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