Istanbul is many glorious things but one thing it is not is calm. The traffic is diabolical, (estimate the time for your journey, then double it, at least), the bazaars seethe with mankind in all its glory, coachloads of tourists throng Sultanahmet with their mouths hanging open, and the muezzins call the people to prayer five times a day.
And that is why the Park Hyatt Istanbul is such a glorious oasis of peace. The entrance in glamorous shopping mecca Nişantaşı is lowkey, halfway up a side street, just around the corner from the new Chanel store, where several attentive doormen wait under the hotel’s portico, poised to spring at the door handles as your car swings into the drive.
That welcome sums up the hotel for me. Never have I stayed in a hotel where the staff were so charming and so on it. (Often it’s one or the other.) The hotel really is run like a well-oiled machine.
And, although it is clearly an international hotel, with the obligatory banks of ravishing orchids, and a restful taupe colour scheme, the architect has given it a wholly satisfactory Turkish flavour, so you never feel as though you are in an anonymous hotel ghetto.
Of course it helps that the hotel is in the Macka Palas, a gem of an art deco building, constructed in 1922 as a possible apartment complex for the inhabitants of the Italian embassy opposite.
The hotel is small, (although it seems bigger), with just ninety well-sized rooms (including ten suites), twenty-five of which are spa rooms so guests can have the traditional Turkish hammam experience in their rooms.
We had a deluxe twin, which would be called a junior suite in a lesser hotel, with a seating area and large desk, and a very large bathroom, with a shower that was also a personal steam room and a bath large enough to float a flotilla of rubber ducks.
But for me the hotel reached its zenith in the morning. I’ve lost count of the mediocre breakfasts and sloppy service that I have endured in hotels around the world.
Not at the Park Hyatt Istanbul.
Every member of staff was smilingly, crisply in control of their areas. I order an omelette at every hotel in which I stay, and they are never good. The first morning I had a textbook French omelette that would pass muster with Larousse, and the next day ate my way through the buffet, constructing a classical Turkish plate. Homemade yoghurt in a terracotta dish, melon of incredible sweetness, a plate of properly delicious Turkish cheeses (an absolute revelation), olives, tomatoes and very good bread.
I cannot think of a better way to get hotel guests on side than by feeding them so comprehensively and so well.
LLG was a guest of the Park Hyatt Istanbul