Bebek Hotel is in Istanbul’s elegant Bebek enclave, a cosmopolitan neighbourhood by the Bosphorus strait.
Istanbul Airport is the closest, just under an hour’s drive from the hotel. Transfers can be arranged for €99 (plus tax) each way.
The Orient Express sadly no longer runs to Istanbul, but there are multiple train routes reaching the city through Europe. If you’re travelling from London (via the Eurostar), Paris or Amsterdam, choose to travel via Budapest and Bucharest or Belgrade and Sofia – either route is rich in cultural treasures.
The hotel is a 10-minute taxi ride from central Istanbul, so if you’ll be coming and going a lot it may be worth securing some wheels. There’s valet parking on-site from €10. However, the neighbourhood is easily explored on foot and it’s possible to explore using the Metro – the nearest stop is Etiler İstasyonu, a 10-minute walk away.
There’s a commuter-ferry port next-door to the hotel, which can take you to other parts of the city.
Worth getting out of bed for
There’s little to do at the hotel by day, but by night the duo of restaurants fill up and locals and guests alike take to the rooftop bar (open from May to September annually). Before you try the hotel’s excellent Chinese cuisine, take a culinary tour through Istanbul’s backstreets. The flavour-packed capital is well-renowned as a gourmet hub, so tuck in to mezze platters, smoky-from-the-grill kebabs, zingy salads, laden flatbreads, toothsome kadayif and more, washed down with brain-slapping gulps of strong Turkish coffee. Walk all that off with a stroll over Galata Bridge to see the fishermen go about their business. Or wander south to the Blue Mosque (officially the Sultan Ahmed Mosque), a highlight of any Insta screen-scroll. The Balat District’s rainbow-coloured houses are begging to be papped, too. For beach lazing with beautiful people, hop on the Kadikoy Adalar Vapuru ferry and head to Elio Sedef resort on Sedef Island, where four-poster day-beds and waiters whisking over drinks await. The Bebek neighbourhood is where the city’s wealthiest keep elegant houses, so it’s worth getting to know: see the mansion that holds the Egyptian Consulate, amble along the waterfront to the Rumeli Fortress and stop for a pint in one of the few breweries in Istanbul: Taps Bebek.
Yeni Lokanta has built its reputation on artfully updated Turkish classics and trailblazing tasting menus, all served in a relaxed, blue-hued space. Markus is less humble in its design, with a giant Rembrandt-inspired mural on one wall, many-branched chandeliers and tiled ceilings. Ribs (and rib-meat hamburgers) are the order of the day – something Markus does very well. For something a little less messy, Nicole’s tasting-menu dishes accessorise one ingredient with complementary flavours and textures – the result is beautiful indeed, and incredibly tasty.
The hotel’s terrace and buzzier rooftop bar may suffice for Turkish red wines, well-mixed libations and panoramic Bosphorus views. But, for drinks and high drama, pick your poison below Halet-i Ruhiye’s vintage vaulted ceiling and decorative lanterns.