I really do love my job as a luxury travel curator, designing holidays for people and letting them experience unique resorts around the world. I consider myself extremely fortunate for the amazing opportunities that come my way. I am sure from the outside looking in, I have a very cushy number – however it has taken a lot of hard work over the past 3 years since launching Unique Family Travels not to mention this has been my passion since I was young including going to college to learn more about the tourism industry.
So when I was chosen to join a trip with LXR Hotels – Hilton’s Luxury brand, I was beyond excited and incredibly honored. Joining the LXR, Hilton and Conrad team along with 4 other amazing agents, we really did have a wonderful time with the most heart warming hospitality, that has left me reassured that my clients will be looked after to the highest level.
Its been a really long time since I've been on a city break. Even though I have visited Istanbul many times, this was going to be a new experience during covid times.
Firstly let me start by reassuring you that Turkey was extremely safe and not busy. Masks are compulsory and there are strict timings that restaurants need to close by.
You need to do a PCR test 72 hours pre traveling and present it at check in along with completing an online form to enter Turkey www.register.health.gov.tr - you must screen shot the bar code to show at the airline check in.
We flew business class with Turkish Airlines which was my first time and I am pleased to say the experience was extremely comfortable and spacious. All flights now arrive into Istanbul’s brand new airport which was empty and very quick though passport control.
We arrived at Conrad Bosporus to a very warm welcome. Previously when in Istanbul I've stayed on the Bosporus but this property is higher up but only 5 mins walk from the Bosporus yet provides the most incredible views of the city showcasing Asia side and many of the bridges.
My suite had an incredibly large window in the living room and bedroom which really showcased the view in its full glory. The suits was very spacious with a separate living room with the coffee table full of welcome edibles – slightly dangerous with my sweet tooth. And a personalized bath robe was laid out on the bed.
The hotel is very grand with a large winding staircase in the lobby and has a glorious ballroom with separate entrance– perfect for weddings with a large outdoor terrace for pre functions. Additional to the gym and swimming pool there’s also two tennis courts and a huge spa and hammam.
I had the most amazing hammam in the Turkish spa which I can only describe myself as floating on a soap bubble while my hair was being washed and my skin was being rubbed down – total bliss – highly recommend.
The hotel offers many dining options, ranging from the Mediterranean-style Manzara Restaurant to the Summit Bar and Terrace, which offers skyline views from its perch on the 14th floor.
You can either book a private yacht or enjoy the bustling ferry, whichever boat you take a cruise on the Bosporus is a must. Enjoy a thriving city crossing two continents – Europe and Asia enjoying Istanbul from a different perspective should be top of your list.
Ortakoy Mosque located on the edge of the Bosporus in a busy neighborhood, popular with art galleries, nightlife, bars, restaurants.
Hagia Sophia has been standing for more than 1400 years. It served as an Orthodox Cathedral until 1453 until Ottoman Sultan Mehmed 11 (who conquered Istanbul) and now it has been converted into a mosque.
During the conversion, the Sultan covered the religious symbols rather than removing them, so today visitors can witness a unique monument that straddles time and religion.
Topkapi Palace Museum (located next to Hagia Sophia)
This Palace served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman Sultans.
Topkapi Palace and Harem (Topkapi Saray) are likely to have more colourful stories than most of the world’s museums put together.
Libidinous sultans, ambitious courtiers, beautiful concubines and scheming eunuchs lived and worked between 15th and 19th centuries when it was the court of the Ottoman Empire.
A visit to the palace’s opulent pavilions, jewel-filled treasury and sprawling Harem gives a fascinating glimpse into their lives.
If you enjoy being slap bang in the historical area I highly recommend Hagia Sophia Mansions which is located between Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace down a cobbled street. These stunning suites which are beautifully designed and perfectly located for tourists to explore the area also offer a private spa and fitness area.
Sofia Terrace restaurant has Hagia Sophia as your back drop or you can enjoy a fine dining experience at Sarnic Restaurant which is a couple of steps away. This extraordinary building was built over 1000 years ago and is supported by six stone pillars and high domes in the ceiling.
Remember to also visit:
The Blue Mosque – One of the most famous and iconic destinations for tourists in Istanbul which is commonly referred to as the Blue Mosque. It was built in 1616 and has over 20,000 handmade ceramic titles.
Grand Bazaar - is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world built in 1461, stretching over 70 streets and consisting of over 4000 shops!
Next stop Bodrum
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