Istanbul is one of the world’s great mega-cities, and TLE discovered that if you want to get the inside track on this vibrant metropolis then stay in the über-cool Karaköy district. And the best address to call home? Well that probably should be ‘10 Karaköy’, a Morgans Original Hotel. Found in a landmark, renovated neo-classical building, transformed by award-winning architect Sinan Kafada, this luxury boutique property, with signature Rudolf restaurant by Rudolf van Nunen, is filled with art, and striking design.
But is it all style over substance? TLE finds out.
As the name implies, this stylish and upscale hotel, which opened in the autumn of 2014, is found at number 10 on the main street running through Karaköy, the Kemeraltı Caddesi avenue. It’s easy to catch a tram from here to the historic quarter of Sultanahmet; alternatively, within a few moments one can walk south from the hotel’s entrance across the Galata Bridge; or head north and reach the iconic Galata Tower and the chic boutiques and stores of the Galata. Yet the chances are, you won’t want to go far, as Karaköy is where it’s at. This former port area of the central Beyoğlu district, on the northern shore of the Golden Horn is now not only a commercial centre at the heart of modern Istanbul, but also a burgeoning artistic, creative and tourist area.
10 Karaköy is without doubt in the city´s hottest neighbourhood, full of quirky and artsy independent cafés, bars and restaurants, as well as art galleries, studios and one of the best harams in town.
What to Expect
In short, expect style, glamour and luxury. Although it has 71 guest rooms, this property positions itself as a boutique hotel. The art/design aesthetic is all about the clever mix of classic period features with contemporary flair and design.
The original building dates back many years, and was a port hospital. The neoclassical period exterior has been retained yet gives little indication of the creative lobby interior, with its open atrium, running up through all the floors. From the ceiling is hanging multiple circular light fixtures, a remarkable deisgn installation that defines the heart of the building.
In fact art is found throughout the hotel. The lobby bar, filled with orchids, has a simply, yet beautiful sculptural water feature of bronze fish, on iridescence ceramic tiles – it’s as if the fish are cascading down with the water. Each side of this main open lobby bar are elegantly furnished seating areas, intimate, opulent spaces perfect to hole up in with a whisky.
The lobby certainly has the ‘wow’ factor and makes you feel you are staying somewhere special.
In the basement is a fitness room, and large room suited to private dining or meetings.
The ground floor signature Rudolf restaurant by Rudolf van Nunen is making a name for itself in the city, attracting non-residents. Lunch and dinner is also served at the hotel’s smart top floor sky terrace.
Check In & Welcome
The taxi took me to the door – you have to exit the car fairly swiftly as the entrance is on a busy thoroughfare, and Istanbul drivers aren’t the most patient. The doorman was on hand to help with baggage. Once inside the chaos of the traffic outside was soon forgotten!
Welcome and check-in was swift and professional and the receptionist escorted me to the room. The lift is housed within a glass shaft, so as it climbs you can take in a view of the whole lobby atrium. The corridors to the rooms are also partially open to the central atrium – all contributing to a feeling of space.
I always think it’s a nice touch when a hotel can take you personally to the room, and show you the space and how things work. It really makes the welcome more personalised and exclusive.
The hotel has three main room categories, ‘standard’, ‘superior’ and ‘deluxe’ – with subtle differences between the grades – differentiated mainly on their location within the hotel, views etc. Standards of presentation are the same across all grades.
There are also the standout Loft and Terrace Suites and an amazing Penthouse.
I was given a Superior Room with queen bed. The door opened into an entrance vestibule – the elegant bathroom directly in front, the wardrobe with safe to the right and the bedroom to the left.
This was a corner room, so the bedroom had windows on two sides. Although the space was contemporary, the arched stone ceiling and period design windows gave cues to the buildings historic past. The rooms have been created by award-winning designer Sinan Kafadar who has worked to pull together the historical details with a modern, fresh approach.
The beautiful herringbone wooden floor with rug added warmth and the plastered walls had a stylish tadelakt effect. The aesthetic echoed the colours of the hotel, with use of a natural, light woods, colour accents of aquamarine and black
A standard-out feature was the pristine bedlinens. Rarely do guest beds look as flawless as the website photography, but in this case the reality more than matched the marketing. I am not sure how the team get the sheets to be completely wrinkle-free, but either way it added a special touch – a feeling of luxury and refinement – part of the magic of staying in a luxury hotel.
Two upholstered, custom designed seats and a table by Sinan Kafadar provided a small area to relax. The writing desk housed the mini-bar with Nespresso coffee machine. There was speaker with an iPod dock.
The space was compact (around 25 square metres), but the stylish, coherent design, high ceilings and light woods made the space feel comfortable and calming. The lighting was good, with bedside lamps, indirect under-shelf lighting, and uplighters for the ceiling.
However, despite the smart contemporary light and climate control panel looking swish, I couldn’t get it to dim the lights. They were either on bright or off. The air-conditioning control was equally difficult to manage. Front desk were very accommodating and said they could control the temperature remotely on my behalf. It seems the hotel is already aware of the issues with the controls.
The bathroom was also compact, (with a W.C., single vanity unity, and shower) yet was elegantly presented. The rich green of the tiled shower and warm green marble of the vanity continued the cohesive aesthetic of the guestroom.
Bathroom toiletries were by on trend MALIN+GOETZ.
Overall I really liked the room – despite being relatively small, the corner aspect and two windows made it feel bigger, and the clever use of floor to ceiling, wall to wall sheers and curtains made the original windows (with wooden shutter jalousies) appear larger.
One the writing desk was a glass pyramid, each layer of the conical glass filled with a different treat from the pastry chef, from candied fruit and ginger to chocolate truffles and a macaroon – a very imaginative presented welcome gift indeed!
Rudolf & the Sky Terrace
10 Karaköy did however serve up plenty of wow in its restaurant Rudolf, headed by acclaimed Dutch chef Rudolf van Nunen. The ground floor restaurant also serves meals on its Sky Terrace, where I experienced a lunch of ‘slow food’ from Rudolf’s new menu featuring Mediterranean and world cuisine.
The Sky Terrace is the place for evening cocktails, and at night has a sexy, urban feel, with subtle lighting that allows the city view be the protagonist. Yet during the day, with the windows folded back, letting the outside in, it feels very much a light filled space with views across the he neighbourhood rooftops to mosque minarets, the Haga Sophia, and the Bosphorus.
I enjoyed a splendid lunch, and as the dishes began to arrive it was clear that Rudolf van Nunen is an artist. Each distinct starter dish had small elements of colour and texture that tied it with the others, making the table look stunning.
The seafood starter of oysters and prawns comes with a side order of theatre – as the waiter pours on the light sauce, dry ice wafts up from the dish below, creating a feeling of the sea. The carpaccio with mozzarella was a delight, whilst the ‘lollipops’ of foie gras and liver parfait were rich and indulgent.
My main dish was three large king sized prawns, perfectly cooked; yet I wasn’t stopping there. I had to try the puddings, and the pastry chef excelled with a selection of treats that were mini works of art, that celebrated classic recipes yet with clever, contemporary twists, such pineapple carpaccio with ginger and coconut ice cream, and Turkish coffee Crème Brûlée with passion fruit cream and biscotti. It was a memorable way to welcome in summer in Istanbul.
Rudolf restaurant is certainly a draw at this hotel.
The downstairs Rudolf restaurant is also where breakfast is served. The space is elegant and understated, with muted earth tones in the fabrics and walls, and a splash of colour in the blue glasses that is reflected in the works by Turkish artist Orhan Kurmalı that are displayed on the walls.
At first the buffet table looks somewhat underwhelming, with just a few breads, cheeses and no warm items or cold cuts – yet I did try a few of the pastries and the jam was absolutely delicious.
The very small buffet was however off-set by the breakfast a la carte menu which was extensive to say the least, with a range of international and Turkish hot and cold dishes, from pancakes to eggs Florentine – but all priced extra.
My omelette was delicious and beautifully presented in a black ceramic plate. My morning macchiato was equally attractive, in a delicate porcelain flower espresso cups.
TLE Final Thoughts
10 Karaköy Hotel is undoubtedly the most prestigious hotel in the desirable Karaköy district; and there is more than just design here. It really delivers as a luxury hotel. Yet, although the hotel has one of the most exclusive suites in Istanbul, the super-exclusive Penthouse on the very top floor of the hotel, the guest room I had was fairly standard for a luxury hotel. Design and presentation were excellent in terms of the quality of the furniture, fixtures style and cleanliness, but I would have like something that really wowed me. In the end it was the restaurant and Sky Terrace that really impressed.
I also loved that I was right there in Karaköy, able to walk to some of the hippest venues in town.
Standard room’s rates are presently very competitive, starting at 95 GB pounds including breakfast.
Address Kemeraltı Caddesi No: 10 34425 Karaköy, Istanbul,
Tel: +90 212 703 33 33
Review carried out by Andrew Forbes