Modern Istanbul at the Divan Hotel

Istanbul, as the cliche goes, straddles two worlds and two continents: old and new, Europe and Asia. While that’s certainly true, it’s most apparent in the contrast between the Old City (the Sultanahmet area where you’ll find the Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar) and the much more modern area around Taksim Square.

It’s in the latter that you’ll find the Divan Istanbul Hotel, which is an excellent representation of what modern Istanbul is all about. Designed by architect Thierry Despont (designer of the Getty Center in Manhattan), the business hotel is a short walk down tree-lined streets to the bustling Taksim Square and İstiklâl Caddesi, a busy street lined with international shops.

The hotel itself is just as cosmopolitan, with modern amenities, professional English-speaking staff, and well-designed rooms. My room felt spacious despite its small size (32 m2 or 355 sq. ft), with a small sitting area and desk, King bed, and large marble bathroom with deep tub and a glass shower. Furnished with a handwoven rug and decorated in muted browns, it was a quiet respite from the energy in the streets below.

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All rooms have heating and AC, wireless internet, laptop-sized safe, flat-screen LCD TV, hair dryer, mini bar, Molton Brown products, and iPod dock plus a few extra perks, like a pillow menu and an outlet converter (a definite plus for business travelers).

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Though the hotel’s excellent location means there’s plenty to see and do nearby, the hotel offers several amenities onsite, a great perk if jetlag mean you’re less inclined to explore upon arrival. There’s a casual dining space where breakfast (an incredibly lavish affair with pastries, breads, meat, cheese, eggs, bacon and other sweet and savory items) is served.

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There’s also a fine-dining restaurant, a sushi bar, lobby lounge, Divan bar (decked out in sumptuous red velvet with a mahogany bar) and an onsite patisserie featuring Turkish delight, cakes, cookies, baklava and chocolate truffles.

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In addition to the basic necessities of bed, food, and drink, the Divan Istanbul Hotel offers 24-hour room service, concierge service, a business center, valet service (and a helipad, for those arriving in serious style), and a spa with fitness center, hammam, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, pool, and spa treatments. In a city know for thousands of years of history, it’s a hotel for those who’d rather experience a taste of Istanbul’s more modern side.

If you go: Room rates start at 180 euros per night. You can book online through the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program or you can book through Expedia, Travelocity or Priceline.

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