An economy stronger than most BRIC nations, government tax incentives and thriving tourism market have made Istanbul one of the hottest destinations in the world for hoteliers. Over the past 5 years the luxury hotel market has gone from being dominated by two major international brands to luring conglomerates from Jumeiah and Starwood to boutique brands like Edition and Mama Shelter. Now comes a new influx of competitors that include outposts of Raffles, St. Regis and Soho House with a Mandarin Oriental and rumored Aman on the way.
With better hotel options than LA, Sydney, Berlin and even Moscow; Istanbul stands on common ground with London and Paris in terms of bling brands with prices that make it a value for summertime bargain hunters. Similar to the explosion seen in Barcelona in the 2000s, Istanbul has emerged with massive infrastructural investments like Zorlu Center that feels like the Turkish version of Berlin's Potsdamer Platz but with better shopping options like Saint Laurent and Moncler as well as restaurants like Jamie's Italian and an Eataly. It's also where you'll find the new Raffles Istanbul with its opulent yet modern lobby, butler check-in and destination spa with organic pharmacy that makes-up for Zorlu’s less-than-ideal location for visitors.
Newer St. Regis Istanbul is more ideally located in Nasantasi on the city's European side known for its fashionable streets, art galleries and top eateries. Emre Arolat Architects prove a formidable backdrop for moody, sophisticated interiors with a polished deco feel. Wolfgang Puck brings a bit of celebrity panache at in-house Spago located in a glassy rooftop with lounge and terrace overlooking Maçka Park and the Bosphorus. And for shoppers, there are boutiques by Lanvin, Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford. But for the privileged few its opening is out-shined by the new Soho House Istanbul in a 19th Century mansion that once housed the US Ambassador in Beyoglu. One of the most impressive debuts to date for the UK-born member's club, the property features the prerequisite club lounge, dining room, rooftop terrace and Cowshed Spa as well as open-to-the-public Cecconi's eatery and 87 very chic rooms that now become the hottest reservation in Istanbul.