Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

10 Karaköy


Oozing calm and design awareness, with Morgan’s signature ‘funky hip’

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10 Karaköy


Karakoy - a vibrant and burgeoning district in the heart of Istanbul

Travel Information

UK Foreign Office advises travellers to Istanbul to avoid demonstrations and abide by the instructions of local authorities

Top Tips

Arrange a tour of Istanbul with one of the hotel's expert personal tour guides - you will not be disappointed

5-Star X-Factors

The amazing loft terrace offers up sensational views of Istanbul's rooftops

10 Karaköy Istanbul

“If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.” Alphonse de Lamartine

Istanbul is the only city in the world that straddles two continents: Asia and Europe. While being the ancient capital of many empires, from Rome to the Ottoman era, it is not the modern capital of Turkey; Ankara is. Istanbul used to be known as Constantinople thanks to the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great and is built on seven hills to match the Seven Hills of Rome.

Karaköy lies at the northern end of the Galata Bridge across Istanbul’s Golden Horn on the European side. It's one of the city's oldest and most historic districts, the centre of Istanbul's maritime trade and commerce since it was settled by the Genoese in Byzantine times. Once home to Armenian, Greek, Georgian, Italian and Russian minorities in Istanbul, it was also a prominent Ottoman economic center, where European and Turkish banks first established headquarters in the 1800s.

Today, its blend of galleries, historical sites, trendy cafes, trendsetting boutiques and glamorous hotels, alongside traditional hardware stores, bakeries and cobblers, makes it both charming and very current. The city is extremely protective of its period buildings, so the spirit of the 19th Century Ottoman Era is still very evident.

It’s no surprise then that Morgan’s Hotel Group, famed for their quirky luxury landmark hotels, spotted not just the ideal building to house a boutique gem, but also an ideal location. 10 Karaköy is a handsome neoclassical building with an interesting past. Enter and you are embraced by its oozing calm and design awareness, along with that distinctive Morgan’s signature of ‘funky hip’. The first thing that strikes you is the mesmerising light feature that cascades down through the soaring central atrium, seemingly weightless, in a series of illuminated bronze circles.

Rooms and Suites

10 Karaköy offers 71 guest rooms, including spacious Loft and Loft Terrace Suites and a deluxe Penthouse on the top floor with a sweeping terrace, perfect for private functions, al-fresco dining, cocktails and even a little samba. All the rooms are finished to a high standard, but my favourite ones were undoubtedly on the top floors. After playing a little bit of Goldilocks, we chose a Loft Terrace Suite. The space was liberating, while an almost wrap-around terrace meant that we could step out from our bedroom as well as the sitting room. In the distance we could see the Bosphorus and the Galata Bridge.

These Loft Suites have a real sense of refined city-chic elegance and are spaciously ‘lofty’ as the name suggests. This is in part due to the pleasing palate in shades of taupe, beige and duck egg blue. The spotless parquet floors, touch-screen-tricky, though clever, lighting, along with fabulous bespoke furniture designed by award-winning architect and designer Sinan Kafadar, makes it feel like a truly plush city apartment. The artwork, both sculptures and paintings, are all from Turkish masters and bathrooms are super slick, unless you require a bathtub. The amenities are the coveted Malin+Goetz while the king-size bed is dressed in serious thread count without a crease in sight.

Dining in and working out

Brasserie Ten is the more formal restaurant, located on the ground floor, and reflects the history of the building in a contemporary and deeply comfortable style. It is a signature restaurant of acclaimed chef Runon van Nunen but unfortunately we didn’t have the opportunity to dine here…this time.

We did, however, enjoy an upbeat cocktail-infused night at the funky ON10 (a play on the number of the building and being on the pulse of hip bar). It’s a great space with views across rooftops, mosque minarets, the Bosphorus and to the Hagia Sofia. It has a sexy sky bar vibe with neon lit slogans reflecting their cheekiness in the floor to ceiling windows, which during good weather, are opened up to the scintillating vista. The flamboyant and funky cocktails are world-class making ON10 on cue and on trend.

We chose to have our breakfast on the terrace of our Loft Suit and, following this feast of cheeses, yogurts, homespun jams, eggs, coffee, fruit platters and beyond, we set off to explore this magnificent city.

The mystery, intrigue, beauty and indomitable spirit

The Egyptian Spice Bazaar

You can catch a tram just outside the hotel, which will take you across the Galata Bridge and into the old town, but you can walk there too. The day before I was so enraptured by the treasure troves of the nearby Spice Bazaar, that I was almost the last to leave and emerged from this famous covered market with eyes blinking towards the setting sun. Istanbul’s second largest covered bazaar, is not only a gastronomic fusion of dried nuts, aromatic spices, Turkish delight, carpet bags and fine oils, it is also well known for its successful trade in gold jewellery. So, magpies beware. It has been in-trade since 1664, is open seven days a week, and carries the wafty scent of this long and spicy trading legacy.

A guide to remember

Fatos Esra Ozal, a guide who has shown many a famous name around the city, came recommended by Karaköy. She is fiercely intelligent, locally loved, and knows exactly how to piece together your wish list. We were running against the clock and there were certain places I just could not leave without seeing. Not only does Fatos fast track you, she also explains things in perfect English and in just enough detail.

The Old City

The Old City is mesmerizing. As Gore Vidal once said “today I have walked around one of the greatest cities on Earth, if not the greatest” as he gazed back in awe at the Ottoman palaces, the shimmering mosques and the neon-lit skyscrapers from his yacht on the Bosphorus. It is, though, an ancient city with a modern spirit and the blend is intoxicating.

Our riveting last few hours included a visit to the staggering Sultan Ahmed Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque because of the sea of blue tiles that adorn its domed interiors and walls. The Mosque is the result of two centuries of Ottoman mosque development, and is considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period. It is still used today and we left as men were coming in to the vast carpeted central area for midday prayers. It is truly overwhelming in size, splendour and grandeur.

Across from the Blue Mosque is the Hagia Sophia. Serving, in its time, three different religious institutions, it is today a museum. There can be nowhere else in this extraordinary city - having hosted as many civilizations over the centuries, of which Byzantium and Ottoman Empires were the most famous - to feel Istanbul’s mystery and intrigue more intensely than inside this dazzling and humbling dome of wonder.

Following our guide around these two architectural and cultural feats, it was time to visit the bazaar of bazaars the world over: Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. There is only one thing worse than too much time and that’s too little. Some people spend three days inside this labyrinth of colour and ordered chaos and it’s easy to see why. It was built in 1461 by order of Mehmet the Conqueror and grew over time to cover a vast area of ‘lanes’ under vaulted ceilings and is today one of the largest in the world. It is for me, the most exceptional I’ve explored; and I’ve seen many.

The quality of the artisan’s produce, from kelim to cashmere to shoe to handbag is, on the whole, outstanding and with Fatos as your guide, you can avoid any mistakes. Stopping for that famous coffee is mandatory and we didn’t have to sip any sweet tea while bartering either. Going in and getting lost is one way of doing it, but with little time in hand Fatos fast tracked us to exactly what we wanted. I purchased two cashmere shawls from Cashmere House for the price of one in the U.K

Finally we went for lunch in a restaurant called Nar, situated on the top floor of an extremely sophisticated high-end bespoke gallery-styled store called Armaggan, dining on the terrace. I felt almost lost in such lavish refined glamour after enjoying such authentic and mystical pleasures in the Grand Bazaar, but it worked a treat. After a fabulous meal from a spotless and tantalizing buffet, accompanied by a bottle of surprisingly delicious local Serafin Chardonnay, we were desperate to hold onto time. With only minutes remaining we rushed from floor to floor of this store, completely bowled over by the craftsmanship and quality of the local goods, from glassware to embroidered silk eveningwear to handbags to sculptures, fine furniture, bed-linen, even jewellery. And, another excellent call from Fatos.

The truth is, we can’t wait to go back to Istanbul and to Karaköy, whose staff could not have been more welcoming, unobtrusive, thoughtful and caring. After a fond farewell we crossed the Galata Bridge with the sun preparing the sky for an eye-catching sunset over the Bosphorus as the city glowed golden. Istanbul is, as Gore Vidal said, one of the world’s greatest cities.

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