Don’t be put off by the crusty carpets and fake Fendi, this mother of all markets hides a treasure trove of Turkish artisan crafts. For an extended itinerary plus VIP shopping experiences, nab a copy of the LUXE Istanbul guide.
Sure, upon entry, Istanbul’s famed Grand Bazaar might seem like a maze of over-priced tourist tat – evil eye bracelet anyone? Or how about a glass lantern? But buried beyond the faff, deep in the warren of winding narrow passages, lie wondrous wares by some of Turkey’s most gifted makers. Just follow this shopping list and get ready to drop some serious Lira, Meera.
Itty bitty boîte Cashmere House is stuffed to its hand-painted ceiling with butter-soft folded fabrics. Pash-man owner Ilyas will sit you down with an apple tea and drape you with his embroidered silk shawls and prized sheminas, personally sourced from the homes of family makers in northern India and Nepal. A variety of colours and qualities, plus an extra spesh hidden stash (ask nicely and Ilyas might let you have an ogle).
A pair of rug sister spots that thankfully go beyond the standard tribal troupes seen in most carpet showrooms. Dhoku ditches Persian floral patterns in favour of chevron stripes, bright block prints and whimsical, nature-inspired imagery all spun from organic wool, while Ethnicon stitches together vintage kilims offcuts to create one-of-a-kind patchwork pieces that are as culturally kaleidoscopic as Turkey itself. Art under your feet. Sweet!
A cache of ikat everything from colourful screened-silk and pashmina pillowcases to hand-embroidered wall hangings and Sultana-worthy kaftans. When Soho House moved into town they came to Yazzma for all their plush pieces, so you know it’s as cushy as it gets.
If all the tiles of the Blue Mosque have quartz your eye, head to this one-stop shop stocked with hundreds of hand-crafted and painted ceramics. Though you might not espy many of the flat wall wares when you first enter Iznik Works, ask owner Ismail and he'll start rifling his drawers for the flat-packed pieces – or peruse decorative plates, bowls, vases and jewellery holders. Iznik tick!
Skip into this glass box, hung with endless strings of semi-precious stones, and you’ll usually find owner and jeweller Ali surrounded by a harem of in-the-know Istanbulites begging to see his baubles. The best bits are in the drawers, or if you still can't decide, he can knock you up something bespoke same day.
After your own at-home hammam experience? Stock up on all manner of fragrant, all-natural, essential oil soaps, linen robes and patterned peştemals in atmospheric, bare-brick bathing beauty Abdulla. And, conveniently, right next door is salad and sahlep flopspot Fes Cafe for a must-needed mid-retail refuel.
Dervis is the place for Turkish towels and throws. 100% cotton, hand-loomed silk and waffle wraps that soak up just like Edina and Patsy at an open bar, plus cosy blankets in patented patterns and beautiful copper bath bowls.
Updated November 2018.
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