Istanbul - Read our Stories and Reviews


On our last family trip to Europe it was time to go further East than ever before. Amongst the island, coastal and rural mix of the itinerary Istanbul was our big city - so our days were jam-packed with mosques, palaces and bazaars as the layers of the world’s fifth largest metropolis revealed themselves. Istanbul is also the only city in the world that spans two continents, Europe and Asia, so visitors are on the edge of two different worlds.

For me Hôtel Les Ottomans, right on the famous River Bosphorus, was the only choice. The opulence of the architecture and exotic Sultanate décor in rich plums and reds - with Moorish embellishment - cast a spell worthy of Istanbul’s fascinating past as a centre of the Roman, Byzantine and Muslim world.

Not that a visit to Istanbul is simply a history lesson - the city has a vibrant al fresco culture with restaurants on a grand scale, fancy cars, trendy music, cool clubs and young people with increasingly modern lifestyles that look forward to Turkey’s booming future.
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This time I was looking for a new country in Europe that interested me and had an earthy, child friendly culture that would stimulate the kids. We needed somewhere less formal than the glamorous, jet set Cote d’Azur and Amalfi Coastline that has drawn Sheira and I in the past.

We did not travel much in Europe in 2008, because of Josh’s all-important final school exams, but the year before that close Melbourne friends, whom we had spent time with in Thailand and Mykonos, had invited us along to Turkey. We ended up in Positano and Santorini instead but they raved about how amazing Istanbul was. I decided that it was time to discover such a layered, exotic sounding city and travel further afield around Turkey while there (see BODRUM and CAPADOCCIA). 

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