Istanbul Likes The Nightlife


Reina is heating up the Golden Mile with its outdoor flavor next to the Bosphorus Bridge.


Frenetic, inspiring, and endlessly fascinating, Istanbul is a city of history and culture. (And 2010—when Istanbul reigns as European Capital of Culture—promises an endless range of exhibitions, performances and major arts festivals.) It is also a city for wining and dining…and partying with the “in” crowd through the wee hours of the morning. The nightlife rivals that of the most mischief-prone world capitals—with glittering Bosphorus views to boot. Whether hitting the lively bars in Beyolu or getting glam at the super clubs along the Bosphorus, your clients will revel in the city’s unmistakable verve and electrifying energy. Here’s our take on the famously hot scene.

The stretch of Bosphorus shoreline between Ortaköy and Kuruçeme is dotted with world-famous nightclubs mobbed by couture-clad sybarites. (Note: The new Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus, reviewed in the December 2009 issue of Luxury Travel Advisor, is a stone’s throw from all the action.) The hot ticket on the “Golden Mile?” Reina, a hedonist’s playground comprising many open-air restaurants clustered around a bar that edges the waves. Note: Yachts can dock nearby. When night falls, headline DJs spin tunes and the super club springs into action. Last summer, we dropped into the outdoor nightclub and were captivated by the setting: purple and gold lounge seating, beneath a crystal canopy, against the backdrop of the twinkling Bosphorus bridge and Asian hills beyond. At this glitterati haunt, your clients can mingle with the who’s who of Turkey.

Tip: To ensure your clients get past the door staff (and avoid the notoriously long line), make reservations for any of the restaurants inside ([email protected]; 011-90-212-259-5919/5921). The number of restos changes seasonally, with Reina Restaurant serving flavorful Mediterranean cuisine year-round. Kösebai, one of six eateries open in the summer months, stands out for its award-winning kebabs. The club capacity may be 2,500, but reservations are still a must. Regular club entrance is $33 and includes a drink.

Offshore, Suada is a floating pool complex that morphs into a glamorous club at night. Touted as “an island between two continents,” Suada has mesmerizing city views from its anchorage swaying in the currents. Lined with white daybeds and beach umbrellas, the Olympic-sized pool glows florescent blue at night. Your clients can tan with the pretty people, sup on the Bosphorus, then indulge in a seaside summer soiree. Getting There: A complimentary boat service ferries guests from Kuruçeme to the man-made island, where guests pay an entrance fee for the pool. Note: Call ahead for the DJ lineup and special event calendar in the summer ([email protected]; 011-90-212-263-7300).


Istanbul, where East meets West, offers a hodgepodge of nightlife and dining.


For more bling on the Bosphorus, Anjelique, Blackk and Sortie promise similar fashionable nightclub experiences.

In Istanbul’s happening Beyolu neighborhood, your clients can take happy hour to new heights at penthouse bars like 360, one of the most popular watering holes in the city. From its perch on top of a 19th-century apartment building, 360 boasts sweeping views of the city’s architectural wonders (hence the bar’s name).

Another sultry scene: Leb-i-derya atop the Richmond Hotel. Your clients can sip on some raki (aniseed-flavored Turkish liquor) while getting intoxicated on the views. Mixologists also blend a range of creative potables (think cosmos, Champagne mojitos and basil margaritas). For lunch and dinner, clients can tuck into delectable Mediterranean fare—from parmesan-and-pancette crusted sea bass to pomegranate-marinated lamb loin shish.

Haven’t got your fix of rooftop panoramic views? Mikla, atop the Marmara Pera Hotel, is arguably Istanbul’s best restaurant, with a beautiful bar to match. The talented young chef Mehmet Gürs serves up Mediterranean dishes in a Scandinavian-inspired dining room. It’s hard to determine the star of the show here: the inventive cuisine or jaw-dropping vistas of the Golden Horn.

Up north, in the trendy Nisantasi district (where fashionistas frolic in upscale boutiques), Longtable Restaurant and Bar draws a sophisticated, high-heeled crowd to the first floor of the Sofa Hotel. The club was opened by Izzet Çapa, the nightclub entrepreneur behind Cahide and Al Jamal, favorites among the jetset. Extravagantly decorated to conjure up the Vineyards of Babylon, the design drips with florid touches—strands of pearls draped from the ceiling studded with crystal chandeliers and upside-down paintings in gilt frames. Tips: Longtable is particularly popular in the winter months. Clients staying at the Sofa, which is a member of Design Hotels, can get reservations through the hotel’s 24-hour “Anything, Anytime” concierge service.

Advisor Insight:

Earl Starkey of Sophisticated-Travel in New York is a top travel specialist for Turkey and a 25-year veteran in the travel industry. Needless to say, he knows Istanbul’s nightlife scene quite well. “Izzet Çapa, the nightlife impresario, has very popular clubs, including Al Jamal, a Middle Eastern-themed nightclub with Lebanese/Turkish cuisine and fantasy belly dancing, and Longtable in the Sofa Hotel,” he says. “Al Jamal is really the most popular at the moment and reservations are required. In the Kuruçeme area, I recommend Blackk, Sortie and Reina. Anjelique offers good food and a nightclub in Ortaköy. Nearby in Beikta, Vogue is a very good international restaurant and nightclub. For excellent views, head to Ulus 29, on a hilltop overlooking the Bosphorus.”

Starkey also suggests the Beyolu and Tünel areas as prime spots for evening entertainment. “There are so many good meyhanes [taverns] to eat at and Babylon is a really good disco with live music. Also on Istiklal Street, the pedestrian street that runs from Taksim to the Tünel area, many small clubs play rock and Turkish music. Visitors will also find great jazz in Istanbul. There is the Istanbul Jazz Center in Ortaköy, plus Nardis near Galata Tower.”


Mikla takes up the top two floors of the Marmara Pera Hotel.


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