Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul Featured

The historic 19th century establishment at new heights of luxury
by 15 January 2010

1890s, in Ä°stanbul. A solid stone building in the Pera district of the city, overlooking the Golden Horn, is glittering with warm light in the darkness of the night. Waltz music can be heard from the windows. A carriage stops in front of the door. A gentleman in evening tails and two ladies in evening gowns step out. The doorman bows and opens the door for them. The little group enter. They have come to the ball at the Pera Palace Hotel.

The hotel was built in 1892 by architect Alexander Vallaury for the passengers of the Orient Express, and in fact it became known as “the first European Hotel in Turkey.” It was home to many firsts. It was the first and only building, apart from the Ottoman palaces, to be supplied with electricity. Bathrooms with running hot water were another privilege available only to the guests of this hotel. And as for the elevator, British writer Daniel Farson described it as follows: “It is the most beautiful elevator in the world, made of cast iron and wood. This elevator ascends like a lady who curtsies. Tourists can not take their eyes off this utterly remarkable feat of engineering." The hotel has had many famous guests. First and foremost, Atatürk, the great leader and founder of modern-day Turkey. Then, Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie, Jacqueline Kennedy, Greta Garbo, Alfred Hitchcock, Zsa Zsa Gabor, King Edward VIII, Mata Hari, Sarah Bernhardt, Yehudi Menuhin and many more.

The restoration
Pera Palace Hotel incorporates elements of Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Oriental style, and therefore it represents a typical example of 19th century architecture in Istanbul. In that period, architects often blended different style in an eclectic manner, so that Oriental and Neoclassical features are combined with a basically classical floor plan and overall appearance. Oriental character comes to the fore in the Kubbeli Saloon, while the famous elevator is a choice piece of Art Nouveau, in interiors that feature Art Deco. The main concept of the restoration project that started in April 2008 (it was completed in 2010) was based on the premise that Pera Palace Hotel is the ideal setting for a high quality, unique and luxurious accommodation experience. Attention was dedicated to the building’s original architectural characteristics in order to enhance its unique position of being the only such period hotel in Istanbul. At the same time, the latest technical infrastructure was incorporated in order to cater to the needs of modern travellers.
Pera Palace Hotel is a historical building, reflecting the architectural tastes of the period in which it was built, and it is protected by Turkey’s supervisory authority for the cultural heritage. The period decoration on the lobby floor has not been altered, but just impeccably restored. The Pera Palace Hotel opened its doors after this intensive restoration operation on 1 September 2010.

Unique interiors
The hotel still possesses a great deal of antique furniture dating to its earliest period. These pieces, including wardrobes, commodes, coffee tables, drawers etc., are used in guest rooms and public spaces. It also has hand-woven Ousak carpets (made in the like-named Aegean city) in the rooms, and this makes Pera Palace the only hotel in Ä°stanbul with hand-woven carpets in all its rooms. Other valuable décor includes more special fabrics and upholstery, Murano chandeliers, and heated Carrara marble in Turkish Bath-inspired bathrooms.

The hotel also comprises a brand new 300 square metre Spa with fitness centre, treatment rooms and an indoor pool, providing a memorable experience for guests.

The rooms
Pera Palace Hotel has 115 rooms, including 17 suites. Some of the deluxe rooms have a lovely Golden Horn view and others look over the historical Pera district. Suites are named after famous guests of the hotel: Ernest Hemingway, Pierre Loti, Ä°nönü and Bayar. The hotel also has Greta Garbo corner rooms.
The Presidential Suites bear the names of royal guests who have stayed at the hotel; Emperor Franz Joseph and King Edward VIII.
One of the most interesting rooms in the hotel is 411, the room where Agatha Christie stayed many times. It is thought that one of her classic bestsellers, “Murder on the Orient Express” was written in this room. There are still some unsolved mysteries concerning her lost diary and room 411…
The most historical room of the hotel, room 101, is the Atatürk museum room. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk stayed at the Pera Palace Hotel many times, and he always chose room 101. On the 100th anniversary of his birth, in 1981, room 101 was turned into a museum, exhibiting some of his personal belongings are exhibited. This room is open for visits.

Stylish dining
Throughout its history, Pera Palace Hotel has always been famous for its impressive restaurant facilities and its legendary Istanbul gala dinners.
Agatha, the main restaurant, named after famous novelist Agatha Christie, serves French-Turkish specialities in elegant surroundings. Agatha also features a show kitchen, where guests can actually meet the chefs.
The Orient Bar has long been a favourite venue for high society: people enjoy the period setting, the superb service, and the wide selection of wines, spirits and cocktails.
Brasserie 1892 is the trendiest venue, with an enchanting atmosphere and a summer terrace. It is popular as a meeting point before the theatre, after concerts, before meetings or after shopping, in short, at any time of day…
The Kubbeli Saloon/Tea Lounge is right at the entrance of the hotel. Tea here in the afternoons used to be a tradition amongst the Istanbul elite. Today, live piano music adds to the magical atmosphere of the lounge, with its high ceilings, corner windows and parquet floor. It is also suitable for private social events.
Patisserie de Pera has that alluring fragrance of freshly ground coffee and freshly-baked croissants. The traditional patisserie has conquered and enchanted the whole city. All one needs to start the day well is to drop into the the French style Patisserie de Pera, close to the hotel entrance.

Weddings, events, meetings
The Pera Palace Hotel is ideal for weddings, private parties, banquets or meetings. It caters for weddings both intimate and large, with attention to all details, from menu to decorations. For business functions, there are two high-ceilinged ballrooms and three multi-function meeting rooms with excellent daylight illumination. In total, the available space for meetings is in excess of 880 square metres. All these venues are equipped with state-of-the-art technology.
Specialist staff is on hand to ensure smooth running: a private event coordinator, the creative kitchen team, and the professional service team.

The district
Pera Palace Hotel, overlooking the magnificent views of the Golden Horn, is located in the Tepebaşı district of Pera, once known as “Little Europe”. Today, Pera is the cultural and social centre of Ä°stanbul. Over the last 5 years the area has undergone considerable development, becoming an important social and cultural district, with museums, cafes, restaurants, residences, fashion and designer fashion boutiques, art studios and boutique hotels. Pera Palace Hotel itself adds further impetus to local development.
The hotel is within walking distance of the city centre (Taksim), just 20km from the Atatürk International Airport, and 5 km from the Old City.

For further information visit Luxos pages for the Pera Palace Hotel or visit the hotel's offical website www.perapalace.com.

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