When to go
Istanbul is hot and humid in the summer, while winter may even see heavy snowfalls. Spring and autumn definitely see the city at its best, with fine weather and milder temperatures.
PlanesIstanbul Atatürk (www.ataturkairport.com) is the main international hub | a 30-minute cab ride from the city centre (without traffic). The journey costs about £25 – try to avoid flights that arrive or depart around rush hour. From the UK | there are regular scheduled flights from London and Manchester to Atatürk. EasyJet flies from Luton daily to Sabiha Gökçen airport (www.sgairport.com) | 30 miles from the city centre. Remember to bring a £10 note for your Turkish visa on arrival at the airport.
BoatsThe ferries and water taxis on the Bosphorus are one of the most attractive ways to get around the city. Boats can transport you from Europe to Asia in a matter of minutes, or whisk you from the city centre out to the peaceful Princes’ Islands (see www.ido.com.tr for timetables). Hotel A’jia has its own private launch, to chauffeur guests around in style. Korfez (a fish restaurant on the Asia side) also has a private boat to ferry its guests across the Bosphorus.
TrainsIstanbul has a modern and efficient metro and tram system. The network goes as far as Atatürk airport, and is as fast as a taxi in heavy traffic.
AutomobilesDriving is a bad idea; the twisting streets are clogged with traffic and it’s very difficult to navigate – stick to taxis. There are also express buses between Taksim and Atatürk airport.
TaxisYellow taksis are relatively inexpensive but have the infuriating tendency to refuse to take you somewhere if they can’t face the traffic. During the day, the meter displays gündüz (day rate). From midnight to 6am, the gece (night rate) is in effect, adding 50 per cent to the cost (if the meter is not on, get out and take another taxi). Don’t expect your driver to know where he’s going; ask your hotel to write down the address.
At the heart of Nisantasi and styled by Autoban, this elegant hotel has impeccable taste. Understated and arresting, the entire building is filled with touch-me-now textures: bookshelves bulge with coffee-table tomes, sofas are plump with cushions and the monochrome prints are from a local photographer. Superior King Rooms overlook the design shops on Abdi Ipekci Street and has mahogany furniture you’ll want to bring home with you. Soft brown suede covers the bedroom chairs, mirrors partially panel the walls and the caramel carpet makes the room toe-scrunchingly cosy. The smart grey-and-white marble bathroom yields a stash of fragrant L’Occitane treats.