I recently had the good fortune to pay visit to a city I’ve wanted to experience for as long as I can remember: the city of Istanbul. Hearing from those that had been, I’d known it was a city rich with history, breathtaking landmarks, incredible cuisine, great cultural and commercial shopping, and that at some point, I had to see it for myself.
I was only there for a day, but that still left me the opportunity to stay at any hotel in Istanbul—and so I was elated to learn that I’d be able to experience the Marti Istanbul. And you would have been elated too! Here are 12 reasons why:
1. It’s new!
The Marti Istanbul is a sheik new 5-star hotel offering 270 stylish guest rooms and all the amenities one could ask for. This includes 31 amazing suites spread over 11 floors, several restaurants and bars, a gym, spa and wellness center, banquet and conference rooms, a gourmet shop and even a private gated main entrance!
2. The location
The Marti is located in the heart of Istanbul in an area known as the Taksim, the shopping and cultural heart of the city. So no matter your destination for the day, you’re just minutes away. From the airport it’s a scenic 25- to 30-minute ride along the Sea of Marmara, and the hotel can arrange for a car to pick you up or drop you off. Or you can always hop in a cab.
3. The Brass Restaurant & Bar
Located next to the main lobby, this stylish restaurant and quaint bar offer a pleasant option if you decide to dine in or just meet for drinks before heading out. The bartenders and wait staff are incredibly nice and the food is fantastic!
4. The spa
After a long day of discovering Istanbul, spend some time at the Marti Wellness Center and you’ll be sure to leave feeling like a Sultan or a Queen. From the minute you step off the elevator you’re immediately transported into a utopia of simple bliss and relaxation. And if you like some of the products used while visiting the spa you have the opportunity to purchase them in the Spa Shop, which is also in the Wellness Center. And don’t forget to stop by the Vitamin Bar!
5. The hammams (Turkish steam rooms)
There are four relaxing hammam units at the Marti Istanbul, and this includes sections for ladies and gentlemen. I’ve been to several hammams around the world and none were as opulent and relaxing as those at the Marti. Beautiful wall-to-wall marble with subtle hints of color created an atmosphere like no other. Perfect before or after your massage or any time spent at the Marti Wellness Center.
6. The staff
The staff at the Marti provides unparalleled hospitality. Want a reservation or recommendation? Forget your charger? Need to change currency or a ride to or from the airport? “Of course we can help with that.” And always greeted with a sincere smile. I was only in Istanbul for about a day and the staff went out of their way to make sure that not only was my stay memorable but that so were those of others I had met at the hotel as well. Five stars to the Marti staff.
7. The rooms & beds
Sweet dreams! The Marti spared no expense when deciding on beds to make sure you get a good night of sleep. So whether you’re staying in the opulent Regal Suite or one of the other 269 rooms, you’ll be in heaven when you lay your weary head to rest. The 100% down pillows and duvets are reminiscent of the cumulous clouds that cover this incredible city. The rooms are spacious, quiet and many have their own private hammam steam room.
8. Breakfast at the Quad Restaurant
They say it’s the most important meal of the day so why not stay at a hotel that offers one of the best? Served every morning in the Quad Restaurant, this breakfast is loaded with all the best options to start your day. How many hotel restaurants do you know that provide raw honey still on the comb for your tea? I know of one and it’s the Marti. It’s this kind of simple detail provided by the Marti that will sweeten the start of any guest’s morning.
9. The gym & fitness center
Located on the top floor and above the spa, the hotel gym is a perfect place to get in some cardio while traveling. With several elliptical machines, stationary bikes, treadmills and free weights, you can spin your exercise wheels while overlooking Istanbul in this spacious fitness center. If yoga is your thing, there is lots of open floor space in the center allowing you to get your stretch on without being disturbed. There is also an incredible roof deck open in the warmer months, so if you’d like to relax in a chaise lounge or soak in one of the spa’s jacuzzis, this is the spot for you. It’s quite an impressive space for exercise and the view is incredible!
10. This guy
The executive chef at the Marti Istanbul is Eyup Sabri Yunusoglu. Not only is he responsible for the menu creation and kitchen operations at Brass and the Quad Restaurant & Bar, he also puts his stamp of approval on everything for the Lounge 11 executive club and the hotel’s 24-hour room service. He also oversees banqueting and catering for on-site meetings and special events. So if you’re there for a conference or a wedding, you’re in good hands with Chef Yunusoglu. The food is fantastic and he’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet!
11. Guided tours
Why spend time trying to locate your destination for the day? Have the hotel arrange for either a group tour or a private tour to maximize your day. I had a private tour that started around 6:30 am to beat the crowds and it was worth every penny spent. The hotel arranged time with Sibel Kilic, a guide from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. She (like most everyone) speaks perfect English and possessed in-depth knowledge about every stop along the way, including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Royal Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar which are all very large.
12. Attention to detail
One thing I always notice about a hotel is its attention to detail. From the polished marble laid throughout the hotel to the cards given to you to provide a safe return, the Marti goes out of its way to keep their 5-star rating intact by paying close attention to the details that will make your stay memorable. It’s the little things that often matter most and in that respect the Marti doesn’t miss a beat.
I’ll keep the closing brief as I know many of you are busy. It’s simple…
If a resolution for 2014 is to travel, here’s a good start: Go to Istanbul. It’s so full of life, history and bustling with energy that it doesn’t surprise me that it’s regarded as one of the world’s most amazing destinations. The people are fantastic and very camera friendly. As in any country it’s always best to kindly ask first, but every person I asked had no problem with me taking a few pics.
As I mentioned earlier I was only in Istanbul for about a day and I only scratched the surface of everything this city has to offer. The locations I mentioned are all must-sees and the history behind them is brilliant. A truly amazing time. And be sure to fly Turkish Air; the planes are great, as is the Business Class lounge.
Check out the images posted below for a more complete tour of the hotel and my experience there, and check out my photo gallery here to see how I captured my day in the Turkish capital.