Images: The Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus Opens in Istanbul

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than five years since a faction of the Turkish Armed Forces staged an attempted coup of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016. A lot happens in five years, including a treacherous American president coming and going. And a recent New York Times story bore the headline, Turkish Opposition Begins Joining Ranks Against Erdoğan, signaling perhaps more significant change ahead.

During the better part of the last decade, as well, Istanbul had taken center stage as one of the global cognoscenti’s most favored destinations (it even got its own Soho House). And with COVID travel restrictions methodically receding, there’s no reason to believe that situation won’t just pick up right from where it left off. Of course, great new hotel openings do have a way of encouraging cultivated travelers on to a particular city – and the plush new Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus most certainly has “destination hotel” written all over it.

In fact, in spite of the ongoing pandemic conditions, MO have been very busy, opening a new property in Madrid this past spring, rebranding properties in Riyadh and Lucerne, Switzerland, and announcing Zurich for 2024, Hangzhou, China for 2025.

But back in Turkey’s cultural capital, the new hotel’s name veritably gives it away, as it is indeed located right along an ethereal stretch of the Bosphorus. So, of the 100 rooms and suites, those bearing the same name as the hotel are the ones that come with those breathtaking river views included in the rate – with the Royal Bosphorus rooms clocking at 473 square feet of space, plus each with a private winter garden. For those feeling particularly flush, however, the gorgeous Naile Sultan Suite is most definitely the choice, with a Bosphorus facing hot tub, and a dedicated dining and bar area, perfect for a spontaneous soiree.

Downstairs, there’s an outpost of the haute Novikov restaurant (famously serving the jetset in Miami, Doha, Sardinia, etc), with a menu ranging from sushi, sashima and robata to risotto, pasta and pizza – the very fancy kind, of course. It boasts a waterfront terrace and pool bar – so those will obviously be the truly coveted tables.

This being a Mandarin Oriental, there’s a lavish signature spa on site, which is curiously enough being billed as the first luxury destination spa in the city. (Who knew the Turks hadn’t yet discovered upscale self-care?) It offers Thai massages, heat and water experiences, and immunity-boosting light therapies, amongst other treatments, and has a state-of-the-art fitness center attached, for those necessary post-pandemic workouts.

It must be said that after so many months of lockdown and being unable to travel internationally, the new Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus represents precisely the sort of pampering, luxurious splurge we’ve earned going into the new year. And whatever the machinations going on the Presidential Palace 440km away in Ankara, Istanbul remains a city of endless discovery.

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