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Overnight in a bank! Vault Karakoy, Istanbul:
While I am a firm believer that you should never have regrets, there are occasions when I allow myself the odd wish. After my very short trip to Istanbul staying at Vault Karakoy hotel, I’ve been looking for the Genie to make sure he’s got the message that I’d actually rather like to go back. Before arriving at Vault Karakoy I was slightly concerned. It was the day of a big football match and the traffic, which I learnt later is generally heavy, was particularly bad. The trip from the airport to the town centre took over an hour. I did wonder where I had found myself.
But, walking up the steps into the stunning hotel, I was immediately put at ease. While the Vault Karakoy is a boutique hotel with just 63 rooms, the entrance lobby is rather splendid and belies the intimate level of service and attention to detail throughout the building. Magnificent high ceilings, stunning marble columns and patterned floors provide a backdrop to an interior which has been carefully planned to feel contemporary and comfortable and yet traditionally Turkish.
Throughout the hotel you’ll find a collection of contemporary art and the welcoming atmosphere is enhanced by stunning displays of flowers and by shelves lined with books about art, culture and music. I learnt that they have their own in-house art curator, Zeynep Berik, who is the editor in chief of contemporary Turkish art magazine ICE, which perhaps explains the level of perfection in the art collection.
It feels grand and yet in no way intimidating. The hotel was at one time a bank, like most of the buildings on the street. Restored by Han Tumertekin, an award-winning Turkish architect, the hotel has retained many of the original features countered with comfortable furnishing and some stunning art.
Opening the door to my room had a real wow factor. The ceiling must have been 20ft high, painted in traditional Turkish style and lit both by a central light and carefully placed wall lights. Floor to Ceiling curtains were so heavy they had to be opened using an electronic control. It was at once luxurious and very tasteful. And there was a kettle and a good quality coffee machine on the sideboard, something which really makes a difference for me if I am on a short visit and don’t have time for breakfast.
The marble lined bathroom was also beautifu, perhaps partly because of the rather unusual and very distinctive veined marble. Once again, impossibly high ceilings made for a luxurious feeling. There were perfectly fluffy white towels and a robe. And some beautiful bespoke Turkish toiletries.
Just before I set off on my walking tour I enjoyed a coffee on the rooftop bar. That alone would have sold me the Vault Karakoy. It’s the kind of place where I could sit all day, just looking out over the Bosphorus. With a mixture of seating, comfortable sofas and chairs, bar tables and stools and with a view to die for, I’m surprised it wasn’t busier.
I didn’t get a chance to eat at Kasa Lokanta, the hotel’s main restaurant. Located in the main lobby, it is where, had I not been leaving at 5am, I would have been able to enjoy breakfast and later in the day the restaurant serves a menu of Turkish and International dishes.
While Vault Karakoy itself is on the other side of the Bosphorus to the Old City and the main tourist attractions – the Blue Mosque and the Cathedral of St Sophia, it’s a short tram or taxi journey there. And, the Karakoy neighbourhood is full of galleries, restaurants and cafes, including the SALT Galata arts and cultural centre. If like me, you prefer to stay a short distance from the main tourist district and get more of a chance to see the real heart of a place, Vault Karakoy is certainly worth visiting. It’s somewhere you’ll find a warm welcome and a luxurious level of comfort.
Oh, and next time, I’m definitely booking the penthouse suite – with its stunning panoramic bathroom!
The Vault Karakoy Hotel is part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World
Vault Karakoy Hotel
Bankalar Cd. No:5,
34421 Beyoğlu/Istanbul, Turkey
+90 212 244 34 00
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Disclosure: I was invited to stay as a guest of The Vault Karakoy Hotel.