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How to Explore The Best of Turkey

This summer, head to Istanbul and Bodrum for the ultimate sensorial vacation

With half of the city in Europe and the other half in Asia, Istanbul quite literally straddles East and West, the gleaming Bosphorus Strait in the middle. Split your time between the sights of the bustling city and a relaxing beachside respite in Bodrum. Here’s where to stay and how to get there.

The pool and grounds of the Çirağan Palace Kempinski

How To Get There

Getting to Istanbul has never been easier or more luxurious. Turkish Airlines, which flies to more countries than any other airline in the world, currently operates from 17 gateway cities in North America, including its first-ever Pacific Northwest route, from Seattle, Wash., which launched earlier this year. Business class perks include seasonal gourmet dishes (served by candlelight, upon request), new designer amenity kits from Coccinelle and Hackett and access to state-of-the-art business class lounges. Beyond the world-class food and hospitality, one of the best parts of flying Turkish Airlines is traveling on the airline’s 787-Dreamliner aircraft, which flies to and from the United States.

The luxurious business class cabin on Turkish Airlines from the U.S. to Istanbul

Where To Stay

On the banks of the Bosphorus, the Çirağan Palace Kempinski boasts stunning views of Asia and the ancient city, featuring palatial suites, Turkish gardens and many dining options (Tuğra Restaurant, Bellini Pasta & More, the waterfront Gazebo Lounge and Bosphorus Grill). The property is the only Ottoman Imperial Palace and hotel on the Bosphorus where Sultans once lived, so the views from the rooms and suites are legendary. A dip in the heated, waterfront infinity pool is also a must, as you can gaze at unobstructed views of passing boats and the colorful lights and buildings on the Asiatic bank. Simply put, no matter where you turn, you’re in for a luxe experience in a gorgeous setting. Don’t miss their authentic Turkish hammam experience at Sanitas Spa.

In-room snacks at the Çirağan Palace Kempinski

Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet, in the Old City, is the perfect basecamp from which to explore Istanbul’s deep heritage, with breathtaking views of the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and Marmara Sea. While in close proximity to Istanbul’s historic sites, the property has a fascinating history itself, as it was once a former prison featuring a landscaped courtyard surrounded by stone walls, a working masjid (mosque) and guard towers. Following its initial transformation into a five-star hotel in 1996, the hotel has undergone a recent renovation by design studio Goddard Littlefair. The new design pays homage to the beauty and history of the site and Old Istanbul while adding the luxurious, modern amenities synonymous with the Four Seasons brand. While visiting, don’t miss the chance to experience the hotel’s rooftop dining terrace with views of the Hagia Sofia and Grand Mosque, or its spa for an incredible Turkish hammam experience that is unpretentious yet utterly luxurious.

The historic exterior of the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet

Surrounded by the tranquil Sea of Marmara, the new 204-room JW Marriott Hotel Istanbul Marmara Sea hotel offers guests a relaxing and luxurious stay in the Atakoy district. The guest rooms are spread out across 17 floors and are as spacious as they are sumptuous—marble bathrooms with large soaking tubs and rain shower heads, smart lighting and modern amenities. Ceres restaurant serves Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian fusion cuisine, with a focus on seafood and this summer. Michelin-starred chef Akira Back will debut a new restaurant offering innovative Japanese cuisine.

The presidential suite at the JW Marriott Hotel Istanbul Marmara Sea

Open May-October, Bodrum Loft is a hidden escape in the lush heart of Demirbükü Bay on the Aegean-facing north coast of the Bodrum peninsula. The 36-room property, developed by Akfen Holding, offers high-end suites and villas that will be your home-away-from-home this summer. With a swimming pool, beautifully landscaped gardens, fitness center, spa, private beach and restaurants (Paper Moon and Nobu–the first in Bodrum–and the casual Patisserie Loft), you never need to leave the resort. Also on site is a boutique by high-end Turkish brand, Vakko.

A villa at Bodrum Loft

How To Tour

With only three days is Istanbul, we relied on Eda Sokmen, whose bespoke tour and travel agency Istanbulite is the go-to for tours of key sights including the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome and Topkapi Palace. From helping book luxurious hotels to coordinating historical, shopping, art and photography tours, cooking classes and paper marbling workshops, the team can help you experience the city like a local. You can even book Istanbulite private tours and experiences beyond the ancient city including Cappadocia, Izmir, Ephesus, Bodrum and other off-the-beaten path locations like Aphrodisias and Kaş.