Pera Palace Hotel
By Laboni Pradhan
When Abdullah Tuncer Kececi, Country Manager of Turkish Airlines, invited Sunil Shrestha along with other media persons to Turkey, naturally he was delighted. He thought that getting to explore the transcontinental country would be a titillating experience. While he was still pondering over his Turkey to-do list, Abdullah informed the group that they would be staying at Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul.
When somebody knowledgeable heard about this, he immediately asked, “Isn’t that the hotel where Agatha Christie stayed and wrote ‘Murder on the Orient Express’?” It turned out to be true and everyone was very excited and looked forward to getting there. Staying at the hotel where the great novelist penned one of her most notable works would mean a great deal to anyone who reads novels. So, with high expectations, the group was off to Istanbul on a Turkish Airlines flight.
Landing in Istanbul, a city with a glorious past itself is exciting. Then they were driven to the Pera Palace Hotel where they’d be staying. However, they were disappointed to learn that they could not see Christie’s room as a Russian film crew had occupied it for a film shoot. But rather than being disappointed by this outcome, Shrestha found himself intrigued by this most famous hotel in Istanbul and wanted to learn more about it.
The next morning, they were given a tour of the hotel, and they were all in awe of its splendor and heritage. Unfortunately, Agatha Christie’s room was by now occupied by a guest and they could still not get to step inside or even take a peak. They were amazed to learn that this world famous room could be booked and people could actually occupy it.
Pera Palace Hotel comes foremost on the list of luxury accommodations in Istanbul, Turkey. Opened in 1892, the hotel is steeped in history dating back to the 19th century, making it a historic landmark and not just an elegant 5 star hotel. It is located in Beyoglu, in the Tepebasi neighborhood of Pera, one of Turkey’s best looking cities, once known as “Little Europe”. Designed by a French-Turkish architect, Alexandre Vallaury, the building boasts of a combination of neo-classical, Art Nouveau and Oriental styles. The cleverly designated location of the hotel overlooking the Golden Horn enables guests to admire the beautiful view of the natural estuary and major urban waterway.
After undergoing a massive renovation that took four years, Pera Palace reopened in September 2010 as a “museum hotel”, emphasizing the rich cultural history of Istanbul. Initially owned by the Ottoman Armenian Esayan family, the hotel not only has cultural significance but it also symbolized the initial steps of development of Istanbul. It was the first building in Turkey to be powered by electricity, other than the Ottoman mansions and is also known as the home of the second electric elevator in Turkey.
Serving the guests with modern luxury amenities whilst still preserving its century old grandeur is one of the many specialties of the Pera Palace Hotel. The ambience is a unique blend of antiquity and modernization. The layout and exterior of the property follows a neo-classical approach whereas the interior of the building is more Oriental and incorporates eclectic Art Nouveau features. The guests are treated with immensely eye-pleasing
aesthetics as every section of the hotel is graced with fine antiques and artworks.
The guests love the hotel’s French patisserie-‘ Patisserie de Pera’, famed Moorish-style tea salon- ‘Kubbeli Lounge’ and their signature restaurant- ‘Agatha’; all wonderful places to soak up the excellent hospitality of the hotel. A spa on the lower level features a sauna, a fitness room, jet- streamed swimming pool and a luxurious marble hammam.
The 115 elegantly furnished rooms and 16 suites of the hotel have tasteful decor, wholeheartedly committed to providing the guests with the ultimate comfort. The use of dark wood, fine white silk linens, feathered duvets and beautifully patterned textiles, all culminate to make the stay at the hotel rooms a memorable experience.
One of the most notable attractions of the hotel is the Ataturk Room 101 or the Ataturk Museum Room where the founder of modern day Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, first stayed in 1917. The room preserves many personal items and reading materials of the great leader. Pera Palace Hotel has also hosted notable literary figures like Ernest Hemingway and The Orient Bar on the ground floor of the hotel was Hemingway’s favorite spot. In Hemingway’s short story ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’, the main character stays at the Pera Palace Hotel while serving in the military during World War I. The hotel is also known for hosting royalty and Hollywood celebrities as it was here that King Edward VIII, Queen Elizabeth II, Sarah Bernhardt, Alfred Hitchcock and Greta Garbo chose to stay.
The overall aesthetics and the rich history of Pera Palace Hotel serves as a reminder for all to preserve one’s history and culture overriding the need to meet the ever evolving luxury requirements of the modern world. Thus, visiting Istanbul’s modern hotel with a century old past should be in the bucket list of every world traveler. Moreover, as Pera Palace Hotel is the official partner hotels of Turkish Airlines, when you opt to fly with the airlines, you might get a golden opportunity to stay in this remarkable hotel!