Ideally situated in the heart of the city, and near its liveliest districts of Beşiktaş, Nişantaşı and Taksim, the Divan Istanbul Hotel is the jewel in the crown of the Divan Hotels Group, one of the most important and prestigious names in Turkish hospitality.
The people of Istanbul are very familiar with the white silhouette of this hotel, which was established more than fifty years ago but which owes its current opulent and refined decor to a renovation masterminded by Thierry Despont, the celebrated interior designer. However, the traces of its former life have not been entirely effaced; the sign at the entrance to the bar, for example, dates from 1956. Another memory, that of traditional skills, is preserved by the sumptuous chandeliers in the hall, which are the work of glass-blowers. Apart from its luxurious design, the Divan Istanbul also puts the emphasis on marvellous Ottoman hospitality, provided by a team that takes the greatest care of its guests. I was given a really marvellous welcome.
The elegant rooms, with their refined decor, are a homage to Turkish culture and the country’s history. The large, airy Terrace Suite where I stayed is equipped with a walk-in wardrobe, a kitchen, a dining room, two WCs and a magnificent marble bathroom. Inevitably, I fell in love with the immense terrace that gives panoramic views over the Bosphorus and the city.
It would be unthinkable to stay at the Divan Hotel, or even to go near it, without stopping in the hotel’s renowned pâtisserie. Of course, I couldn’t try everything, but I particularly recommend the chocolates and the macaroons.
At dinner time, travellers and natives of Istanbul alike meet at the brasserie for an exceptional gastronomic experience. On the menu are millennia of culinary history, with a fresh touch of modernity. We followed the recommendations of the chef and had salmon gravlax as a starter, followed by tagliatelli (home-made) with seafood. Then I opted for the salmon (I usually prefer fish to meat) and we finished with a superb dessert based on pumpkin, which was as good-looking as it was delicious.
At the Divan Istanbul, I was bowled over by their exceptional hospitality, which went far beyond my expectations. The kindness and helpfulness of the staff, combined with the quality of the restaurant and the rooms, makes this hotel a fine establishment with an authentic touch of ‘Made in Turkey’.