Hotel Insider The Park Hyatt is an unexpectedly fabulous base in Istanbul.
Park Hyatt Istanbul offers indulgence in a distinguished setting
The three-year-old Park Hyatt is discreetly located down a side street in the exclusive district of Nisantasi, and the smart but unshowy entrance matches this. There's a security check to pass through, but once you're inside, you're ensconced in open-plan luxury. On the left is a chic wine bar; on the right is the Lounge restaurant, while reception is quietly tucked away at the back.
Sophisticated, upmarket Nisantasi is packed with designer boutiques. On the Park Hyatt property but accessed from outside are branches of Emporio Armani and Gucci; hundreds of other designer and boutique shops, cafes and restaurants line the surrounding streets. This is a residential and shopping centre, not far from Taksim Square and Istiklâl Caddesi, and within 10-20 minutes driving distance of Sisli and the new Istinye Park shopping centre. Local historical attractions include the Fine Arts Museum, Dolmabahçe Palace, Ciragan Palace and Bosphorous Bridge. For those used to staying in Sultanahmet or Beyoglu, this posh and untouristy area makes a very pleasant change.
Businessmen and holidaying couples and families from Europe, the Middle East and Asia seem to make up most of the other guests when I visit. Because the hotel has only 90 rooms, it never feels crowded and there's a cosy atmosphere at night when both hotel residents and outside guests visit the wine bar and coffee lounge. The hotel's interior designer was Randy Gerner of New York's Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel, who has done well to include plenty of local elements in his state-of-the-art designs and lit the place exquisitely. The building is a former 1920s apartment block so there are some faded Art Deco mirrors and stylish lamps to complement the contemporary mosaics on the walls, fine pieces of modern art and textured walls.
My room was a Park Spa room, which was 60 sq m and had its own steam room and small Turkish bath area. You can call the spa and have someone give you a Turkish bath in the comfort of your own bathroom; alternatively, the hotel's much larger sister property, the Grand Hyatt, has a huge traditional hammam attached to its Gaia spa. The glass and limestone-clad bathroom was a highlight, with a huge free-standing bath, separate shower, huge sinks and a choice of coloured lighting. The bedroom, separated from the bathroom by a glass wall, felt like a large, upmarket boudoir, with its wood floor, silk curtains, chaise-longe style chair, small chandelier and large black-and-white prints by photographer Ara Güler on the walls, and excellent lighting and bedding. Quietly situated at the back of the building, it was an ideal city retreat.
Staff were welcoming, helpful and intelligent, without being overbearing. The room staff cleaned while I was out and didn't knock at other times. I enjoy feeling anonymous, and generally staff didn't intrude on this feeling, except at breakfast, where I found one or two of the male staff a little in-your-face.
At Prime, the hotel's steakhouse, service was formal, swift and flawless. The concierge, who sits unassumingly just inside the hotel's main entrance, was tireless in her effort to help me confirm a changed flight booking without a reference number, calling the airline direct and successfully extracting my details from its system.
I loved the small breakfast buffet served in the Lounge, particularly the fresh, thick, local yoghurt and honey and the crusty sesame seed bread spread with local butter.
The Prime, the hotel's signature restaurant, specialises in steak and seafood and is open for lunch and dinner. Small and intimate, with oak furniture, linen tablecloths and wall-to-ceiling wine cabinets, the decor is particularly cosy in the evening. The grilled sea bass, fresh, firm and pure white (79 lira [Dh156] for 180 grams) and the beef sirloin, straight from one of the city's best butchers (65 lira; Dh128) were worth the money.
The comfort level throughout the hotel, the homely and un-corporate feeling and the sense of indulgence that is delivered here.
Trying to find the hotel on foot. Returning after a day of walking, I got lost in the warren of streets surrounding the hotel and had to ask several times for directions to find it again.
An unexpectedly fabulous base in Istanbul. If I could afford it, I'd stay for a month.
The bottom line
Double rooms cost from €243 euros (Dh1,130) per night. Park Spa rooms cost from €459 (Dh2,133) per night. Prices include taxes. The Park Hyatt Istanbul, Tesvikiye, Bronz Sokak No 4, Sisli Istanbul (http://istanbul.park.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/; 00 90 212 315 1234).