Warm sunshine, cool hotels, great food – Turkey has everything for a chic summer break
Of course there’s the food – flaky baklava, charcoaled meats, and the richest coffee – which is a fantastic starting point for any holiday. But phenomenal design and inspiring experiences also lurk under Turkey’s perfect, azure skies.
Istanbul’s historic centre, once dubbed the ‘crossroads of East and West’ has rapidly zipped up on the inside lane as the hip city to visit, with invigorating architecture, art and design. This status has been confirmed by the arrival of Soho House, which transformed a 19th-century palazzo in the heart of the old European Quarter into its latest stylish retreat. Away from the city, the Istanbul elite have baggsied the Çeşme and Bodrum peninsulas for chic weekend breaks, and we’re more than happy to follow in their wake.
For pure relaxation with side orders of design, check into the rustic-chic Alavya or bedecked Maçakizi, destinations brimming with cliché-defying originality guaranteed to stir you – if you ever make it out of your hammock.
The lowdown The go-to address for Bodrum’s beautiful people.
Best for Clubbers who like to lie low by day and live it up at night.
Expanses of wood and concrete take on a softer timbre under the endless sunshine at this established centre of cool. Gorgeously understated rooms set the mood (the bespoke furniture hits a Heal’s-on-holiday note), but you’ll find yourself mysteriously drawn to the cascading sun decks that seem to hover in layers down the hillside, before spreading out over the shimmering sea.
These luxe lounging areas are shaded by sail awnings or thatching, so feel laid-back by day, but the pace steps up around the bar come sundown. The food is what originally reeled in the Euro yachties and beautiful of Bodrum and it continues to deliver. Sea bass glazed in squid ink, chilled Anatolian Sauvignon Blanc and a view over the glittering sea – Livingetc’s idea of bliss.
Book it: Double rooms from £337.
The lowdown A secret garden with cottages exuding Ottoman charm.
Best for Relaxation with a rustic vibe.
Alavya is a hamlet within the village of Alaçati, Çesme, its walled garden dotted with six stone houses that take Aegean escapism to new heights. Each of the 25 rooms has been dreamed up by Turkish designer Hakan Ezer, who balances white walls and kilims with modern art, Alexander Calder mobiles, Gubi pendants and mid-century chairs.
With a pool, shaded yoga sessions and silk-cushioned ottomans tucked into nooks around the garden, you’ll slow down from 60 to 0 in a matter of hours. Reinvigorate at the beach (it’s a windsurfers’ mecca) or the immense, ancient Greek amphitheatre at Ephesus, 90 minutes away. Closer by, explore the village’s blue-shuttered streets, with a Saturday market selling spices, supersized fruit and luscious cheeses. When you feel the need to resume horizontal position, Alavya has a crewed yacht for hire.
The lowdown An iconic palazzo redesigned for business and/or pleasure.
Best for Soho Housers with a sense of adventure.
The march of the Soho House franchise into the heart of the former Ottoman Empire has set design hearts aflutter with its mix of London cool and Anatolian extravagance. The hotel is a reworked 19th-century palazzo in the arty district of Beyoğlu. Built by a Genoan merchant (partly as a place to hook up with his mistress), it was later home to the US embassy, which painted over some of his saucier frescoes lest they distracted staff from shuffling paperwork.
Today, decadence is back in style, with slick SH touches (Livingetc adores the bathroom tiling), overloaded chandeliers, acres of Carrara marble and glass lighting by Felekşan Onar.
Choose from 87 bedrooms (it’s SH’s largest enterprise yet), then hang out at the club areas with visiting DJs and bands, or head for the rooftop pool, with views of a skyline that mixes Manhattan-style skyscrapers with ancient minarets.
Book it: Double rooms from £144.