The Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul Will Treat You Like Ottoman Royalty

As the sun sets, lazy yachts sail quietly by the rippling shades of blue, purple and pink of the Bosphorus, providing the perfect backdrop to drinks on the sprawling terrace of the Ciragan Palace (officially the Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul). Built by Ottoman sultans, the 17th century palace and historical site still boasts majestic surroundings and offers guests the best in hospitality, dining and comfort.

The property is a result of a complete restoration after several iterations and functions. It has served not only as the abode of the highborn but also as a football field and public swimming pool. Its history begins as the mansion of the distinguished Admiral Kılıç Ali Pasha after which Sultan Mahmut II rebuilt the area in the 19th century. The current palace was a dream of the late Sultan Abdülmecid but his elaborate plans for the palace were abruptly halted when the Sultan passed away suddenly, leaving the completion to be carried out by his brother Sultan Abdülaziz.

It was during this time that the Ciragan Palace hosted some of its first celebrity guests which included the Empress Eugenie de Motijo of France, the wife of Napoleon III, with whom a rumoured love affair is said to have blossomed with the Sultan. Nevertheless, the empress was enamoured with the ornate marble Turkish bath of the palace and to this day, this historic feature of the hotel remains one of its main highlights at events and fashion shoots.

In modern times, the Ciragan Palace was a result of restoration works after the hotel was victim to a fire in 1910. It lay abandoned for most of the 19th century and only opened its doors as a modern hotel in 1992. Today it is part of the Kempinski group and stays true to its elegant origins as the only accommodation on the Bosphorus which can be accessed by sea, road and by air while offering the experience of living like a true member of the sultanate.

It cultivates a unique experience in its choice of accommodations as the original palace hosts 11 suites in its imperial section. In these, you will find lodgings that boasts its own 24-hour butler service, spacious bath tubs, complimentary mini bar and all the trappings of Ottoman luxury living. The star of these private suites is the incomparable Sultan Suite (from EUR32,400 per night) located on the second floor. It is one of the largest suites in Europe and has seen the likes of Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein and Queen Rania of Jordan grace its rooms. The large windows with a clear view of the Bosphorus greet guests who enter the suite through a spacious hall decorated in the finest of Turkish design, including two fireplaces and antique silk woven carpets of the highest quality. On either side of the hallway two elegantly decorated bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms with a handmade marble hammam, a Turkish bath with a private steam room and rain shower with gold-plated and crystal bathtub faucets. If you are entertaining, a kitchenette and a dining area that seats 12 is available. Another 20 more suites are available in the hotel wing of the Ciragan Palace with rooms in the middle section allowing for unobstructed views of the Bosphorus as you lounge on the ample balcony space.

For the culinary enthusiast, the Ciragan Palace leaves the guest spoilt for choice. Those after a one-of-a-kind Ottoman experience will find the Sultan’s Dinner enchanting, offering a classic dining experience against the backdrop of a real Ottoman Palace. It begins with a welcoming reception that includes fasil, a suite in Ottoman classical music and a delightful Turkish tradition. This is accompanied by a popular sherbet beverage popular in the days of the empire. The rich banquet that follows promises a spectacular array of royal delicacies prepared from recipes handed down from the Ottoman epoch. To top off the experience, the dining room would be carefully decorated with flamboyant accoutrements such as embroidered uniforms for the banqueting team befitting of a magical journey in time.

As the most prominent feature of the Ciragan Palace, the infinity pool is so inviting that guests cannot help but want to spend most of their stay lounging on the pristinely manicured lawns surrounding the pool or taking intermittent dips. As it’s heated in the winter and open all year, swimming in the Ciragan Palace’s pool will invoke a sense of floating on the Bosphorus as you watch the boats passing by on the horizon.

Should you want to continue your poolside entertainment well into the evening, the new concept bar The 47, which debuted in summer 2019 is the place to be. Taking its concept from the tropical outdoors, adorable ape decorations greet you as you lounge by the sea side to live DJ beats and sip on assertive cocktails. Note that the both resident mixologists and DJ are female, further adding the progressive vibe and setting this bar apart from other venues along the Bosphorus.

Keminski Istanbul


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