Last updated: 10:43 PM ET, Mon October 10 2016

The Pera Palace: An Istanbul Icon

The Pera Palace offers guests modern-day luxury – with an eye toward its 19th-century past

Vacation Agent | Destination & Tourism | Art Kramer

The Pera Palace: An Istanbul Icon

PHOTO: The elegant lobby of Istanbul's Pera Palace. (photo courtesy Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah)

When travelers step through the heavy wooden doors of Istanbul’s Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah, they will be immediately swept back to a golden age of travel and history. Ghosts of the past pulse through the grand lobby and up the sweeping staircase. It’s easy to picture men in suit jackets sipping whiskey in high-ceilinged dark libraries, while ladies take tea in the afternoon to the sound of live piano music.

After a two-year restoration and renovation, the Pera Palace was upgraded to meet the needs of the 21stcentury traveler, but the energy of the 19th century is still alive and well.

The property, which is located in the Beyoglu district overlooking the iconic Golden Horn, was built in the 1800s to fill the missing luxury gap in Istanbul. The famed Orient Express would make its last stop in the city, and there were few accommodations that could cater to its well-heeled passengers who made the journey from Paris. The hotel guestbook is scrawled with historic notables such as Queen Elizabeth II, Emperor Franz Joseph, Alfred Hitchcock, Agatha Christie, Ernest Hemingway and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the country’s late president, who is widely revered as the founder of modern Turkey.

Fanciest Suites: The crème de la crème of accommodations at the Pera Palace are the King Edward VIII and Emperor Franz Joseph Suites, which measure 1,237 square feet and feature impressive views of the Golden Horn. Each has a dressing room, and living and dining area with a study.

Most Common Accommodations: The most common accommodations are 84 Deluxe Rooms, 44 of which have street views. Many of these 322-square-foot guestrooms are equipped with French balconies. Rooms and suites in all categories retain the charm of the late 19th century, with hand-woven Oushak carpets, white Carrara marble and Murano glass chandeliers. There are also 10 Grand Pera Studio Rooms, which measure 485 square feet.

What’s for Dinner? The Agatha Restaurant serves cuisine blending French, Italian and Turkish flavors, with chefs working in an open kitchen. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Patisserie de Pera, with just over 20 seats and styled in the fashion of the Belle Epoque, serves cakes and pastries. The lobby-level Kubbeli Saloon Tea Lounge features traditional English afternoon tea served with 120-year-old silverware and live piano music.

Who Books This Resort? The Pera Palace caters to an affluent, well-traveled guest who craves exposure to history and the arts. The property’s location overlooking the Golden Horn puts it a short taxi ride away from Istanbul’s most popular historical attractions.

Insider Booking Tips: Recommend that your clients take a tour of Room 101, which was Ataturk’s favorite. The room has been converted into a museum that houses some of Ataturk’s belongings, including his clothes, hats, shoes and glasses.

Also, because this is Istanbul, recommend that your clients try the traditional Turkish bath in the Pera Spa, which will envelop them in scented steams, soap and body scrubs of the traditional Ottoman Hammam. The hotel’s spa also features three treatment rooms, a steam room, sauna, indoor jet stream swimming pool, Jacuzzi and fitness center.

Key Selling Points: The Pera Palace is iconic – much in the same fashion as The Plaza in New York or the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris – and its storied past is evidenced in its public rooms. In the evenings the Orient Bar comes alive as creative cocktails are served in a dimly lit atmosphere with deep leather sofas and chairs. Guests can channel their inner Hemingways and sit at the bar nursing a whiskey, as the author used to do.

READ MORE: Pera Palace, Where Progress Stayed in Istanbul

In addition to being in close proximity to myriad historic attractions, the Pera Palace is also near Istanbul’s trendier neighborhoods of Karakoy and Galata, appealing to the night owls. The main street of Istiklal Avenue, flanked with boutiques, cafes and bars, is within walking distance.

It should be noted that some of the city’s most popular nightclubs are right at the hotel’s doorstep, which can create slight traffic backups on weekend nights. But the energy and vibrancy of the neighborhood will not go unappreciated.


Hotel Name: Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah

Size: 99 guestrooms, 16 suites

Year Opened: 1892 (renovations 2008-14)

Facilities: Kubbeli Tea Lounge, Orient Bar and Terrace, Patisserie de Pera, library, spa with indoor jet-streamed swimming pool and Hamman, the Agatha Restaurant, fully equipped gym, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Museum Room

Rates: Nightly rates range start at $218 plus tax for a Deluxe Pera Side Room. Travel agent commission is 10 percent.

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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the October 2016 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.