A. PAMPERING in ISTANBUL, a HAMMAM and a FACIAL
A Turkish Bath or Hammam is the variant of the Roman bath, steam bath, and sauna, distinguished by a focus on water, as distinct from ambient steam.
We had our couples’ hammam (Turkish bath) at the spa in the Pera Palace hotel. It was suggested that we arrive early and use the sauna or steam room to get our body to a warm temperature and we sat in the sauna for about 10 minutes. In a beautiful all marble bath area, we lay side by side on marble beds. I was scrubbed by a woman and my partner by a man and we were constantly splashed with delicious water and then we each had a massage. It was a relaxing and soothing 40 minute experience. You can arrange to have longer hammams. Ideally one should rest at least an hour afterwards. We followed our bath with detox tea and water and relaxed for sometime afterward.
B. LES OTTOMANS
C. RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATION: NAR LOKANTA in the ARMAGGAN building
The brand ARMAGGAN combines original design with traditional Turkish craftsmanship to produce unique handcrafted jewelry, art objects,naturally dyed textiles, leather and home textiles. The collections are designed and produced in limited edition in their own ateliers and studios.
The first floor of the building features jewelry and stunning silverware, the second floor clothing and each floor has original designs for the home. The fifth floor houses the restaurant. I bought a beautiful golden glass bird by a Turkish designer and I also bought Turkish Delight candies made with honey. And I could not resist the gorgeous hand-made mortar and pestle made of olive wood. So many wonderful objects, each one lovingly crafted in Turkey. I want to go back!
Below the restaurant on the 4th floor is the YESAM Culinary Arts Center, whose mission is to keep Turkish culinary traditions alive.
NAR LOKANTA, the first restaurant venture by Nar Gourmet is located in the heart of Sultanahmet by the Grand Bazaar. Nar Lokanta offers Anatolian cuisine and showcases Nar Gourmet’s product line that specializes in all-natural regional products from Anatolia. All cooking is done with olive oils that are also sold in the restaurant, the oils come from different regions of Turkey.
I fell in love with a dessert that is made with shredded wheat and pistachios and syrup, topped with a delicious yoghurt.
The decor is very classic featuring lots of marble and paintings from Turkish artists. At the back of the restaurant there are beautiful turquoise tiles surrounding the traditional stone oven where they bake their fresh pide bread (Turkish challah bread). The most striking decor is the vertical garden hanging down to the floor below, covering two stories of the building.
There is also a large terrace surrounded by plants and ivy, with a gentle breeze when we were there.
D. Pera Museum
Pera Museum is a small private museum in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul which was actually around the corner from our hotel, the Pera Palace. It was founded by the Suna and Inan Kirac Foundation in 2005. The museum is in the historic building of the former Bristol Hotel. It was renovated between 2003 and 2005. It is a lovely modern building, with 5 floors, a cafe and gift shop and we noticed a line for a concert in the cafe the evening following our visit.
We started at the top floor to see the Warhol exhibit and then to the 3rd floor to see the Stephen Chambers exhibit. They were both very well done (see photos below). The Pera Museum has three permanent collections: Orientalist paintings, Analtolian Weights and Measures and Kutahya Tiles and Ceramics.