Famously set on the Bosphorus strait, straddling Europe and Asia, Istanbul maintains a fascinating equilibrium of ancient and modern. Two major business districts – Levent and Mashattan – reflect a robust economy, while the mosques and minarets of the historic centre have helped propel tourism arrivals towards 30 million annually. A quarter of Turkey's population lives in Istanbul, so getting around can be a challenge and punctuality is not always a priority.
Voted best European Business Hotel in 2011, the Moevenpick’s (www.moevenpick-istanbul.com) cool ‘Empire State-style' exterior shields an oasis of calm within. It is located a few metro stops from the central Taksim Square and has a wonderful 20th-floor Skyline Club lounge. One of the city's newest offerings is the striking Le Méridien Istanbul Etiler, a 259-room property that marks the hotel brand's debut in Turkey.
Agatha’s Restaurant at the Pera Palace (www.perapalace.com) offers superb food, impeccable service and a great atmosphere amid its 19th century splendour. The restaurant is named after Agatha Christie who wrote part of her best-selling Murder on the Orient Express from her favourite guestroom here, number 411. It serves a blend of French, Italian and Turkish cuisine, paying tribute to three stops on the Orient Express route of old.
360Istanbul (www.360Istanbul.com) on Istiklal Avenue and close to the Pera Palace is definitely the place to enjoy a cocktail or two. As the name suggests, it has unrivalled views and a large terrace too. Consider also the lively Ortakoy district nestled just below the Bosphorus Bridge, where revellers will discover a labyrinthine network of bars open until the early hours.
Turkish Airlines flies to Istanbul from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester and Dublin. Other options include British Airways from Heathrow; easyJet from Luton and Atlasjet from Stansted.
Shuttle buses depart every 30 minutes for Taksim Square from both Ataturk International Airport (20 minutes from the city centre) and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (55 minutes from the city centre). Istanbul has a reliable public transport system, including a very modern and expanding metro system that helps passengers avoid the heavy rush hour traffic overhead.
Istanbul’s summers are hot and humid while its winters are cold and wet. The currency is the Turkish Lira and the time zone is GMT +2hrs. For more information see www.goturkey.com
The UNESCO designated ‘Golden Horn’ peninsula is home to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar and Basilica Cistern, all of which are within walking distance of each other. Move onto Dolmabache Palace, before boarding a cruise on the Bosphorus. At night, visit the 171metre-high observation deck of the Istanbul Sapphire building for impressive views across this teeming metropolis.
“Personal relationships are highly regarded so no visitor should come straight to the business in hand without exchanging a few friendly words first.”