Tag Archives: bars

Top 5 things to do in Istanbul

Legendary Shopping District1. The Grand Bazaar
Four thousand shops, stalls, restaurants – even its own mosque. With goods that are both cheap and extravagant you’ll be sure to bag a bargain. Make sure you head over to Dhoku, whose hand-woven Turkish kilims bear ethno-cool designs conceived by the international architecture group Superpool. The best part is that prices are fixed and there’s no hard sell. A sure relief as throughout Grand Bazaar there is an army of arm-twisting  salesmen. For those looking for a piece of Turkish authentic furniture then head over to the Asmalimescit district for some curvy, organic wood furnishings from Turkey’s hottest interior design group, Autoban. Find out more here

Hotels near The Grand Bazaar:
Ottoman Hotel Park
Rast Hotel
Tan Hotel

Italian restaurant2. Lucca & Babylon
The Lucca, an Italian restaurant and cocktail lounge for people who want to  indulge in the city’s top after-work and pre-party scenes. The cozy interior sets the atmoshphere, plenty of artwork and even a few books, a DJ spins loud house and soul music while the professionals and socialites sip champagne cocktails and pomegranate mojitos. If your looking for a place with excellent music then Babylon is a must. The best live music from Turkey and around the globe, as well as the occasional star DJ, join the cool kids and dance until your hearts content. Find out more

Hotels near the Lucca & Babylon:
Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
Radisson Sas Bosphorus Hotel

3. Mikla
For a fantastic view of Istanbul’s amazing skyline why not do it in style at the Mikla. This beautiful restaurant thanks to celeb chef Mehmet Gurs serves global-fusion food. Foie gras and porcini terrine, cherrywood-smoked lamb loin with walnut pistou, Turkish coffee, millefeuille and much more await if you can pry your eyes from the view.

Hotels Near the Mikla:
The Marmara Taksim
The Marmara Pera
Pera Rose Hotel

4. Topkapi Palace
The Topkapi oozes history, of course there are other attractions such as the ruins of the Roman Hippodrome, the massively vaulted Hagia Sofia Cathedral, the cobalt-tiled Blue Mosque. But the best stories lurk in the centuries-old walls of Topkapi Palace, where sultans plotted murders and invasions, eunuchs and harem girls cavorted in plush dens and court artists and artisans fashioned some of the most beautifully wrought creations in Islam. Make time to pop round the corner to the Blue Mosque – just avoid prayer time. Find out more

Hotels Near the Topkapi Palace:
Arena Hotel
Gülhanepark Hotel
Hotel Yasmak Sultan

5. Istiklal Caddesi
This 19th century, French influenced area is where Istanbullus eat, shop, drink and have fun. This cosmopolitan area includes cinemas, bars, theatres and restaurants as well as a wide range of shops. On the main drag there are cake shops of appalling sinfulness (Inci Pastanesi, Istiklal Caddesi, No 124), some of the best bookshops in the world (Pandora, Buyukparmakkapi Sokak, 3, and Simurg, Hasnun Galip Sokak). Nevizade Sokak is the place to go to drink beer and rakı. This is best approached through the Fish Market (Balık Pazar), which has its own Armenian church (Uc Horon). Find out more here

Hotels Near the Istiklal Caddesi:
The Marmara Taksim
Misafir Suites Istanbul
Nippon Hotel

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Fifth Floor Bar at Harvey Nichols gets a revamp

This is excellent news. This bar on the top floor of the famous Knightsbridge department store has always looked great on paper, perfect for a cocktail or two after flexing the plastic at Harrods and Harvey Nichols on a Saturday afternoon. My experience in years passed, however, was often less than spot on, usually fuelled by the trashy clientele of cash-rich car dealers and ‘professional’ Russsian women clad in fur and bad leopard print.

Recently revamped, the place is looking great, with a cocktail list heavy on vodka based drinks and a Baltic-influenced menu in the adjoining restaurant. Definitely worth a visit if you are in Knightsbridge and licensed now till 3am. We’ll be visiting very soon.

See press release at Harvey Nichols.

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Filed under London Hotspots, London recommendations, Other interesting stuff, Restaurants we love

The best hotel bars in London

Hotel bars are brilliant for many reasons. The late opening hours, the cosmopolitan crowds and the fact that they retain a feeling of exclusivity even if anyone can walk in for a drink. And if you really can’t get home, you can always try getting a room at the hotel at the end of the night. Here’s Gekko’s top five London hotel bars.

Artesian at The Langham, West End
For a bit of old-school glamour, you can’t beat The Langham. One of London’s finest grand hotels, this Victorian pile has just been refurbished to the tune of £50 million. The chic east-meets-west interiors and pagoda bar make things as urbane as they get this close to Oxford Circus, and with rum the spirit of choice, there’s plenty of classy daiquiris and hurricanes to be enjoyed.
Find out more about The Langham

Bar 190 at The Gore, Knightsbridge
Bar 190 blends opulence with tradition to dramatic effect. It was famously the setting for the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet film, and a certain Medieval bacchanalia remains with mahogany panelling, formal oil paintings and intimate lighting set against a neon-lit bar. At the back of the room, a jewel-studded ‘Cinderella Carriage’ holds a VIP table for six. The tapas menu is also fabulous.
Find out more about The Gore

The Long Bar at The Sanderson, West End
A bar that lives up to its name and, in keeping with the rest of this achingly hip hotel, is a designer’s dream. Full of media types and moneymen of an evening, the DJ pumps out nightly beats whilst the cool crowd lap up the special cocktails. Martinis are the real star here with some inventive combinations. Check out the ‘Sanderson Predicts’ nights to hear the best live new music in the perfect setting.
Find out more about The Sanderson

The Connaught Bar, Mayfair
Ferociously chic and immaculately turned out, the prices might be dizzying but so is the experience. The Cubist-style design fits perfectly with the bespoke martinis from the seriously professional mixologists. Completing the picture are fashionable titbits from stellar chef Hélène Darroze: sashimi of scallops & truffle vinaigrette anyone?
Find out more about The Connaught

Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel
An original stained-glass window is now the only survivor of this room’s Balmoral baronial past. It is now a slick noughties lounge named after 1960s photographer Terence Donovan which attracts stylists and fashion editors like barflies to superior Cognac. The bar displays many of Donovan’s best works which pleasingly complements the monochramtic design. The cocktail list is addictive as is the feeling that you are drinking with the in-the-know crowd.
Find out more about Brown’s Hotel

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