The Insiders' Guide To Istanbul's Best Shops

Mark C. O'Flaherty, The Daily Telegraph, September 04, 2013

Shopping in Istanbul can be a hugely rewarding activity for those who know where to look. Beyond the well-publicised charms of the Grand Bazaar, the city is home to an impressive range of independent boutiques, design shops and the ateliers of local craftsmen. To guide you to the city's best addresses, four renowned locals share their pick of Istanbul's best shops.

Design shops: Seyhan Özdemir
Özdemir is one half of the celebrated Istanbul-based design duo Autoban . The company has its flagship furniture store in the city and has created lounges for Turkish Airlines, hotels and cafes for The House Hotel group and the interior of the award-winning Muzedechanga restaurant.

Robinson Crusoe 389
So far, we have designed two types of bookcases in our product range and those bookcases need books. In my house and office, the majority of those books are about product design, interiors and architecture, and they are generally sourced from this shop, located at the tail end of Istiklal Caddesi in Beyoğlu. The owners are seriously passionate about their inventory.

Robinson Crusoe 389, İstiklal Cd. 195A Beyoğlu, 34433 İstanbul; +90 212 293 6968

Ece Ajandası
My profession requires me to draw sketches and make notes all the time, so I always find myself buying notebooks and planners. Ece, the diary maker, is one of the oldest, genuinely Turkish brands. It is 103 years old to be exact, so much older than everyone’s Moleskine. The company recently opened a five-floor shop – their first – in the historic district of Karaköy. It makes a very good excuse for me to visit the quarter at least once a week.

Ece Ajandası, Necatibey Cd. 30 Karaköy, İstanbul; +90 212 522 5544

Yastık by Rıfat Özbek

Even though there is now a London branch, no other shop in Istanbul feels this local. Famed Turkish-born fashion designer Rıfat Özbek switched careers to give us luxurious cushions in bright hues and bold prints, using textiles mainly sourced from parts of Anatolia and Uzbekistan. The store is a gem for those who have a taste for all things exotic. It is a great place for gift shopping for friends living abroad.

Yastık by Rıfat Özbek, Şakayık Sk, 13/1 Teşvikiye, 34365 İstanbul; +90 212 240 8731

Magnolia Culture
Magnolia Culture is a small but well-curated gift shop that mainly stocks design-related books alongside unique and small decorative objects. There are two locations, but I prefer the original one in Galata, where our office used to be located. A visit to the shop means revisiting memories and meeting familiar faces along the way, and definitely returning with a nicely packed gift for a friend, if not oneself.

Magnolia Culture, Lüleci Hendek Cd. 49B Galata, 34425 Istanbul +90 212 243 1042

Arts and culture shops: Dyala Nusseibeh
Dyala Nusseibeh is the director of the new modern and contemporary art fair ArtInternational Istanbul . Before taking on her new role, Nusseibeh completed her MA in Contemporary Art at Christie’s, and worked at London’s Saatchi Gallery for many years.

Iznik Art
If you can make a beeline anywhere within the maze of alleys that is the Grand Bazaar, make one to Iznik Art. If you can’t find it, ask around – everyone knows Ismail Yigit’s superior modern reproductions of classic Turkish ceramics. This is the place to come for souvenirs after being inspired by the elaborately tiled mosques of the old city and the ceramics collection at the Topkapi Palace.

Iznik Art, Orta Kazaslar Sk. 64, Kapalıçarşı (Grand Bazaar) 34440 Istanbul +90 212 512 3473

Alba Gallery

While living in Ankara, Selmin Altinordu garnered a formidable reputation as a dealer in antique Ottoman-era engravings, books and postcards. Last year she opened an Istanbul showroom in the ground floor of her daughter Zeynep’s environmentally sensitive restoration of a historic Istanbul building near the Galata tower, which has now been converted into four luxury serviced apartments (Baylo Suites). I particularly love the old European engravings found in boutiques like this – a reminder that Istanbul has fascinated artists for centuries.

Alba Gallery, Galata Külesi Sokak 24A, Beyoğlu, Istanbul +90 212 245 9860

Patika Bookshop and Café
I love dropping in on Müslüm Üzün at Patika to peruse his coffee-table art books, and for an excellent Turkish coffee. We’ve invited Müslüm to bring a pop-up Patika to ArtInternational – an essential stop for collectors looking to buff up on the rich artistic heritage of Istanbul. Patika also stocks the glossy magazines which can be tricky to find elsewhere in Istanbul.

Patika Bookshop and Café, Abdi İpekçi Cad, Milli Reasürans Çarşısı 43-57 G Blok, Nişantaşı, Istanbul +90 212 231 1660

IKSV Design Boutique
Run by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts in the organisation's headquarters, the IKSV Design Boutique focuses on local designers' work and has the sophistication of a museum shop. The varied collection includes jewellery, accessories and decorative items by emerging designers, as well as reproductions of artwork by several 20th-century Turkish painters on ceramic items, pillowcases and the like.

IKSV, Sadi Konuralp Cad. 5, SishaneIstanbul, Istanbul +90 212 334 0830

Clothes, style and accessories shops: Dilek Hanif
Fashion designer Dilek Hanif creates contemporary red-carpet dresses and couture infused with Ottoman influences. She was the first Turkish designer to show during Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week, and this year created new uniforms for Turkish Airlines.

Gönül Paksoy
Since early youth, I’ve always been inspired by ethnic designs from my own culture. Gönül Paksoy designs her collections with a timeless simplicity, transforming traditional Turkish clothing and accessories into something new and exciting - something that lies between design and art. I love to mix her ethnic pieces with contemporary fashion. What I appreciate most about Gönül Paksoy’s work is that every piece is unique.

Gönül Paksoy, Sokak Genç Apartmanı1/3-4, Istanbul +90 212 236 02 09

Sevan Bicakci
I don’t wear jewellery often, but wearing a Sevan Biçakçi piece always makes me feel special – it’s a unique work of art. Once you step into his world, you sense the cultural heritage of Istanbul and Turkey, the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires all at once. My favorite pieces are the leather wrap bracelets with diamond dagger closures.

Sevan Biçakçi, Molla Fenari Mah. Gazi Sinanpaşa Sk. No. 16 Cağaloğlu 34440, İstanbul + 90 212 520 45 16

Haremlique is one of the first shops that I stop at in the summer, for cotton bikinis, kaftans, beach dresses and tunics. You can also find bed and bath linens and other homewear. The products are unique, with exquisite prints and delicate embroideries – the embodiment of contemporary Istanbul. Most of the presents I buy for my friends abroad are from Haremlique, including premium quality raw Turkish coffee.

Harmelique, Vişnezade Mah, Şair Nedim Cd. 11, İstanbul +90 212 236 3843


This vintage boutique reflects owner Fatos Yalın’s imaginative style. It’s one of my indispensable shopping destinations. Fey sells its own-label clothing alongside redesigned vintage pieces and other Turkish designers. When you step into the shop it is really hard to miss Fatos’s rare vintage finds – I am particularly drawn to the unique vintage necklaces she always has on sale.

Fey, Mim Kemal Öke 9, Nişantaşı Istanbul +90 212 219 8724

Culinary shops: Tarik Bayazit
With his partner Savaş Ertunç, Tarik Bayazıt co-runs Changa and Muzedechanga, two of the most famous, critically acclaimed and design-focused restaurants in Istanbul.

Haci Bekir
One should not be allowed to leave the city without tasting kaymaklı lokum (Turkish delight stuffed with fresh clotted cream). Its shelf life is only four or five days, although once you start, it is virtually not possible to stop before finishing the whole box. While you are in this shop, which has been in business since 1777, grab a bag or five of crunchy and aromatic coriander seed sweets (kişniş sekeri) to take home with you too.

Haci Bekir, Istiklal Caddesi 83/6, Beyoglu, Istanbul + 90 212 245 1375

Sensus Wine Bar
Take home some award-winning Turkish wine. Before or after visiting medieval Galata tower, Sensus Wine Bar within the nearby Anemon Hotel provides a great opportunity to taste and buy bottles of the ever-improving wines made from indigenous Anatolian grapes. Öküzközü, Boğazkere and Kalecik Karası (reds) and Narince, Emir (whites) and their “fusion” wines with international varietals are particularly worthwhile to taste. Doluca’s Karma series and Kavaklidere’s Coté D’Avanos are strongly recommended.

Sensus Wine Bar, Bereketzade Mahallesi, Büyükhendek Caddesi Kuledibi, Beyoğlu, Istanbul +212 245 5657

Malatya Pazari
After eating at Chef Vakkas’ famous Seyhmuz Kebab House, walk downhill to Mısır Çarşısı (Spice Bazaar) and Malatya Pazarı, a market that carries local foodstuffs from various parts of Anatolia. Purchase some kebab-inspired ingredients to take home, like local sumac and isot (smoky and deep dark red pepper flakes from Urfa) and maybe a small vacuum-packed biber salçası (a seductive crimson red pepper paste).

Malatya Pazari, Mısır Çarşısı, 40 Eminönü, Istanbul + 90 212 522 5592

Mehmet Efendi
Contrary to general belief, Turkish coffee isn’t higher in caffeine or stronger than most of the other coffee varieties. Mehmet Efendi is the largest and the oldest coffee company in Turkey and a visit to their heavenly smelling shop in Eminönü may convince you to take home a pack along with a smart looking and extremely practical Turkish coffee maker by Arçelik.

Mehmet Efendi, Tahmis Sokak 66, Eminönü, Istanbul +90 212 522 0080