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As I planned my trip to Istanbul staying at the iconic Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah, built by the Eastern & Orient Express Railway in 1892 to serve the guests of the iconic Orient Express luxury passenger train, was at the top of my list. I had heard stories and watched movies about the magnificent train transporting kings and movie stars to the heart of Constantinople and this was a great opportunity to get to experience this bygone era of luxurious travel.
Reading about the Pera Palace’s history before my trip I could not contain my excitement. I would be staying at a hotel that not only had hosted a long list of famous and influential guests from Agatha Christy, Ernest Hemingway and Greta Garbo to Ataturk (founder of the Turkish Republic) but that had pioneered modern building practices and ultimately influenced the standard for luxury accommodations worldwide!
The Pera Palace was not only the first luxury hotel in Turkey but was also the first private building with electricity in the area; the only other buildings with electricity in Turkey at the time where the Ottoman palaces. The hotel also played a very important part in Istanbul’s history hosting the first Republic ball, the first fashion show and the first art exhibit in Turkey.
Stepping out of the cab in front of the hotel’s entrance I wondered if the Pera Palace would live up to my expectations but as I walked through the glass doors and into the lobby my apprehension quickly disappeared. I immediately felt like I was traveling back in time. The luxurious yet unpretentious spaces of the hotel combined European elegance and beautiful Ottoman details both in the architecture and in the interior design.
The hotel underwent a very extensive renovation a few years ago (it was closed from 2006 to 2010) and it has not only been restored to it’s original grandeur but has also been brought into the 21st century. This museum hotel does not seem stuffy or old, on the contrary, the whole building seems to be pulsating with life.
After checking in we got a short tour of the hotel and where taken to for a ride on the original elevator, which is maintained in perfect order so that guests can experience it. The beautiful wood and wrought iron elevator was the first in Turkey and the second elevator in Europe after the one in the Eiffel tower.
Under the management of the international luxury hotel chain Jumeirah the Pera Palace combines luxury, history and fantastic service. From the moment we arrived we received a royal treatment and felt as if we where the only guests in the hotel and our stay was made memorable and special by the hotel staff’s attention to detail. In our room we where delighted to find an assortment of delicious baklava’s and other Turkish pastries.
The rooms are bright, comfortable and decorated with a classic elegance that feels luxurious yet homey. We stayed in a room on the top floor overlooking the Golden Horn. The view from our private balcony was simply breathtaking!
You can also stay in one of the rooms named after the celebrities that have stayed there like the Agatha Christy room or the Greta Garbo room; these suites are decorated taking into account the personalities of these famous hotel guests.
Staying at the Pera Palace Jumeihra was an experience like no other. I have stayed in many amazing luxury hotels before but the Pera Palace Juheira’s character, elegance and legacy combined with a sense of intimacy and an exceptional Turkish hospitality that makes you feel right at home is exceptional!
The Pera Palace Jumeirah is without a doubt one of the most iconic luxury hotels in the world but the best part is that it’s prices are very attainable with rooms starting under €175 in low season and around €225 in high season.
Even if you do not stay at the Pera Palace you can still participate of it’s history. Many Istanbul city tours include a visit to the Pera Palace and everyone can visit the Ataturk Suite, a museum room dedicated to famous Turkish leader Ataturk (who stayed in the room many times himself). Teatime at the Pera Palace’s is an event on itself; you enjoy tea and pastries in the grand Kubbeli Saloon under the beautiful domes and the tea is still served in the original silver tea set. You can also visit Patisserie Pera and delight yourself with their amazing sweet creations.
To learn more about prices and availability be sure to check the Pera Palace Jumeirah website and like the Pera Palace Facebook page to lear more about their special events like their weekly Jazz Nights at the Orient Bar, monthly literature gatherings and cultural and artistic events throughout the year.