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In the Mood for Istanbul

Frequent globetrotters know the trick for beating jet lag is to set watches before flying. In a similar vein, if you’re jetting into Istanbul, why not set the scene ahead of time? Travel pro and LUXE resident curator Basak Gokkilic recommends the books, films, music and flavours to get you in the mood for Istanbul.


For fiction, Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence is a classic; history buffs will love John Freely’s book Istanbul: The Imperial City.


Ferzan Ozpetek’s films always capture the mysterious beauty and diversity of Istanbul, particularly the film Red Istanbul


Keep an eye out for work by architect Emre Arolat, and visual artist Gulsun Karamustafa.

Bathtub soak

Pop on Brooklyn Funk Essentials’ In the Buzz Bag, which features Turkish folk elements, Wax Poetic’s Istanbul album, or Chocolate Distance by Karuan which never gets old. 


Wine culture in Turkey has expanded exponentially in the past decade, with vineyards like Chamlija and Suvla producing lovely collections of wine. I recommend Likya Acıkara for red, Selendi Morali Narince for white, and Vinkara Yasasın Blanc de noir if you’re in the mood for bubbly. 

Solo spots

If you’re travelling solo, head to Efendi and Alexandra Cocktail Bar where you’ll meet a friendly fashionable crowd. For quieter moments, the benches on the Bebek Promenade are ideal for daydreaming, while the armchairs of Backyard make for a cosy reading spot. 

Dress code

A chic shawl will come in handy during the day when visiting historic mosques, and keep you warm on breezy nights at seaside restaurants and rooftop bars. Men need not cover their hair.

When to go

If you don’t have a trip booked, it’s worth planning your itinerary around Istanbul Jazz Festival (June/July 2020), when legendary musicians from around the world play historic landmarks in the city. 

Don’t miss

Ferry rides, Bosphorus views from Mikla, gallery openings, hammam scrubs, and of course, the food.

Looking to unlock the best of Istanbul? Yes h’mmam…

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