There is nothing quite as delightful as dancing the night away in an open-air club on the shores of the Bosphorus. But what’s a party animal to do once winter rolls around and the summer venues shutter their doors or significantly scaled back? Thankfully the colder temperatures don’t put a damper on Istanbulites’ desire to go out and have a good time. There is, however, a shift in the places they flock to. That’s why we’ve put together a list of some of the best spots to experience Istanbul nightlife when Jack Frost comes to town.
Located on Istiklal Caddesi in the heart of Beyoğlu, Mama Shelter is a funky spot that quickly fills up in the evenings. It may seem like an odd choice for a club – there are chalkboard ceilings and inflatable swimming rings figure heavily into the decor – but Mama Shelter manages to be both quirky and cool. Generally there’s live music during the week, while DJs take the stage on the weekend. It’s location is ideal if you’re interested in visiting other clubs and bars in Taksim and Asmalımescit. But once the party gets going and the cocktails are flowing, you’ll probably never want to leave. www.mamashelter.com
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This hilltop restaurant, with its remarkable view of both Bosphorus bridges, morphs into one of the city’s trendiest nightclubs once the last plates are whisked away. It has two separate areas for clubgoers to enjoy – the larger club section is pumped with loud electronic music while the DJ at the more intimate terrace bar spins hip hop and pop. Ulus 29 is the rare upscale club in Istanbul that plays excellent music, serves delicious cocktails and is not pretentious in the least. Although it’s a bit far outside the city centre, it’s most definitely worth the trek. www.ulus29.com
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If you happen to visit Kiki in the day, you’d be hard pressed to imagine it as a club. Yet the wooden tables are quickly moved out of sight after the last diners leave, opening up the back room and large garden for Istanbul’s young and beautiful. It’s the preferred destination for those who are looking for something a bit more low key – there’s no glitz and glamour here. But while it may not provide the traditional clubbing experience, Kiki becomes the place to be at 2 am, when crowds of hipsters pack in and dance the night away to music that edges more towards alternative than techno or house. www.kiki.com.tr
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Gaspar, one of the best restaurants in Karaköy, turns into a raucous nightclub on the weekends that has become the place to see and be seen in this trendy neighbourhood. With its dark wood panels and futuristic furniture, it gives off a mysterious vibe that will keep you coming back for more. It is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building that fills up quickly, so make sure you get there relatively early if you want to get in and get your groove on to the loud house music. The bartenders are quite skilled at making cocktails – a rarity in Istanbul – but there are also a wide range of beers on offer. www.facebook.com/Gaspar