Things to do in Istanbul – Visit the Pera Palace Hotel
Considered to be the ‘Pearl of Istanbul’, the Pera Palace Hotel is an historic landmark located in the Beyoglu district, formerly known as Pera, on the north shore of the Golden Horn. This luxury museum-hotel allows visitors to pop in to take a look around, and since it’s a short walk from the main pedestrian street İstiklal Caddesi, it’s a nice little detour on your stroll through the neighborhood.
Opened in 1892, the hotel catered to the elite of the time, mostly passengers on the Orient Express (the rail company took over part ownership of the hotel in 1894). Over the years Pera Palace Hotel has welcomed an impressive list of high profile guests including King Edward VIII, former Turkish President Atatürk, filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, and writers Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie (she reportedly wrote Murder on the Orient Express during her stay here, and the hotel’s restaurant is named for her).
The boxy Neo-Classical exterior is rather gloomy, but the interior (following 21st century renovations) is 19th century opulence. The décor is a blend of art nouveau and oriental styles.
The common areas, consisting of the main lobby, the multi-domed Kubbeli Saloon & Tea Lounge, and the Orient Bar are decorated with red velvet furnishings, sparkling Murano glass chandeliers, and marble columns. If you get a chance peek into the Grand Pera Ballroom.
Elevator and Stairwell
Wander a little deeper into the hotel for a look at the ornate grillwork of the oldest elevator in Turkey.
Throughout the hotel, you’ll see historical mementos on display, such as brochures, tickets, books, and photos showing the hotel and the high profile guests who’ve stayed here over the years. Notice the antique sedan chair used to transport guests arriving from Sirkeci Station.
Pink Sitting Room
Patisserie de Pera
While you’re here, be sure to pop into the pretty and pink Patisserie de Pera, just off the lobby, where the pastry cases are filled with bonbons, macarons, and other Parisian inspired pastries and cakes.
In 1981, Room 101 was converted into the Atatürk Museum in honor of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and first President of the Turkish Republic. This mini museum, which gives the Pera Palace Hotel the museum-hotel status, holds a collection of mementos, clothing, and other personal belongings of Turkey’s former leader. For more information on the museum and contact info, visit the Pera Palace Hotel website.