A sample of city life at Marti Istanbul


The Marti Istanbul is located in the Taksim neighborhood.Looking to my right, I can see Istanbul's historical city, with its imposing mosques, Roman aqueducts, ancient city walls and lavish sultan's palace. Off to the left, I can see the glass and steel of the modern high-rise buildings in Istanbul's financial district.

These are the views from a balcony of the new Marti Istanbul Hotel, a five-star property that debuted this year.

Located in Istanbul's bustling Taksim neighborhood, the hotel is a microcosm of the city itself, bringing together the old and the new, the traditional and the modern.

Like all the city's hotels, the new property was affected by demonstrations in May. At that time, government plans to build on Istanbul's Gezi Park, near the hotel and next to Taksim Square, led to nationwide protests and violent clashes between protesters and police in the Taksim area.

According to Sedat Nemli, the hotel's general manager, the protest initially "affected access to hotels in the Taksim neighborhood. … [But] as events dragged on, all Istanbul hotels … began to suffer cancellations, for the months of June and July primarily."

He added that Gezi Park, now renovated and reopened, has become a magnet for visitors.

The Marti Istanbul is the Marti group's first city hotel, after having opened Turkey's first real resort hotel in the seaside city of Marmaris in 1969, followed by two additional resort hotels.

The Marti Istanbul was designed by Zeynep Fadillioglu, who gained renown as perhaps the first woman to design a mosque, Istanbul's Sakrin mosque.

Her company, ZF Design, paid much attention to the artistic touches. Throughout my three-day stay, I was constantly noticing new details: Ottoman designs on the ceiling of my room, the popular Turkish talisman to ward off bad luck hanging in the lobby, the intricate gold metal latticework on a meeting room's doors.

A guestroom at the Marti Istanbul.For Fadillioglu, it was important to bring together traditional Ottoman designs with modern Western style.

"I wanted to reflect the culture of Istanbul in a modern way," she said. And for business travelers, she said, "You want them to have a business atmosphere with the softness of home life."

As a guest of the hotel, I stayed in a corner suite. The room was spacious and welcoming, with marble floors, a cozy sitting area and an extremely comfortable bed.

Most striking, though, was the expansive bathroom. The glass-doored shower doubles as a mini-hammam, or Turkish bath, with heated marble benches, a marble basin to fill with water and traditional bowl for scooping out the water.

While only the suites and above have the hammam-style shower, most of the hotel's 270 rooms have marble bathrooms.

Its Brass restaurant, located off the lobby, serves French and Asian food.

On the mezzanine, the Quad restaurant and bar is set in an atrium that reaches to nearly the full height of the hotel.

The Quad also features a comfortable lounge area under a traditional Ottoman-style tent — again the link to Turkish history.

Suite guests can take breakfast on the balcony of a top-floor space called Lounge 11, with spectacular views of the city.

The spa and fitness center is also on the 11th floor. At the glass-enclosed gym at night, I could run on a treadmill while admiring the city and a lighted Bosporus bridge, connecting the European and Asian sides of the city.

The extensive spa offers treatments ranging from the traditional Turkish bath experience to Swedish and Thai massages as well as a sauna and steam room.

For more information, visit www.martiistanbulhotel.com.


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