Destination Istanbul: Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul is a Turkish delight

Destination Istanbul: Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul is a Turkish delight



The luxury hotel is home to world-class hospitality.

It has been two decades since I last set foot in Istanbul, yet the city remains unchanged – chaotic, congested and a culture clash of east meets west. Yet, as the only city in the world to bridge two continents, Türkiye’s largest city (population 15.84 million) is steeped in history, making it the ideal short break for GCC residents looking to escape the desert.

I was a backpacker on a budget when I last traversed the Bosphorus Strait that cuts Istanbul in two with a vast swathe of water separating the older European side from its cosmopolitan Asian counterpart. I may now be much older (and hopefully wiser), but the charming city for which I have such nostalgic memories has evolved, exploding into a busy metropolis where bustling markets, fragrant shisha cafes and historical attractions vie for the attention of visitors.

As we career around the Besiktas district, renowned for disruptive traffic, the confluence of cultures and influences is evident. Istanbul feels alive and I’m ready to revisit this Turkish delight. 

Shangri-La Bosphorus Istanbul

Rooms and suites

We checked into the Shangri-La Bosphorus Istanbul, a luxe property conveniently located on the banks of the Bosphorus River that offers the ideal base for exploration in a bustling yet beautiful part of the city. Known for building stunning hotels in spectacular locations (Shangri-La Dubai overlooks Burj Khalifa whilst Shangri-La London is located inside the sky-piercing Shard), Shangri-La Bosphorus Istanbul takes over a charming 1930s waterfront tobacco house that was renovated into a hotel in 2013.

Shangri-La Bosphorus Istanbul

The grand entrance has floral blooms, a sweeping staircase, gilded golden elevators and sparkling chandeliers. As a brand known for unrivalled luxury, we’re immediately hit with a sense of old-world grandeur. We checked into the Terrace Bosphorus Room, which is located on level five and boasts a private terrace with Insta-worthy views of the river. Spanning up to 60 square feet, it included 300-thread count bed linens, a large marble bathroom with a rain shower and a heated floor. The serene sanctuary was accentuated by soothing cool tones and inspired by palatial Ottoman glamour and Asian design elements.

Shangri-La Bosphorus Istanbul

Restaurants and bars

Istanbul is a city of 23,000 restaurants that boasts everything from Michelin marvels, from TURK Fatih Tutak to international favourites like ZUMA. Guests can choose from four restaurants and bars, which include the Turkish restaurant, IST TOO; Asian restaurant, Shang Palace; afternoon tea in the Lobby Lounge; and international cuisine at Le Bar.

The property ensures everything is done with a sense of occasion to create long-lasting memories, whether that be the world’s only baklava butler who is on hand to offer a sweet afternoon pick-me-up or the ceremonial presentation of bittersweet Turkish coffee upon a golden stand with sugary cubes of Turkish delight. The Lobby Lounge’s afternoon tea is a thing of beauty, and comes with local delicacies – and, of course, that baklava.

Shangri-La Bosphorus Istanbul

During 72 hours of constant eating, IST TOO offered more than your average all-day-dining spot. In addition to a fantastic selection of Turkish delicacies and an appealing wine list, guests can indulge in international fare such as pizza, pasta and sensational sushi.

Shang Palace is Shangri-La’s signature restaurant, and it has elevated the Chinese dining experience. Textured walls and bulbous light fittings create an alluring ambience to complement a Lazy Susan laden with dim sum, Peking duck and crisp beef. If you want to add to the experience, watch the chef hand-pull noodles – and have a go yourself.

If you’re looking for a plush private experience, book one of the cruises. A chilly morning breakfast on a private yacht found me cruising along the Bosphorus while sipping hot apple tea. The backdrop of towering mosque minarets, outstretched suspension bridges, grand summer houses and decaying palaces made for the perfect backdrop for a traditional Turkish breakfast of sujuk sausages and simit bread (a Turkish pretzel) drizzled with fresh-from-the-comb honey and Kaymak (clotted cream).


Shangri-La Bosphorus Istanbul is home to Europe’s first Chi, The Spa. The highlight is the Traditional Hammam Treatment, which showcases the ritual of a Turkish bath. The health and wellness offering includes a state-of-the-art gym and heated swimming pool.

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Like the coffee, our time in Istanbul has been short but sweet, but the changing seasons only heightened our adoration for the city. With Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul firmly anchoring our stay amidst the chaos of Istanbul, there is nowhere better for an enchanting retreat in the capital of empires. 


FACT flew with Turkish Airlines, which is the airline that flies to most countries in the world. FACT flew business class from London to Istanbul, and Istanbul to Dubai.

The Business Lounge in Istanbul Airport spans 5,800 square metres and includes 13 suites, showers, a Turkish museum, a movie hall and Turkish food. On the flight, guests can choose from traditional Turkish cuisine to international dishes, which are prepared by professional chefs with fresh ingredients. And the fully lie-flat seats, which turn into a 188-centimetre bed, ensure you'll be on cloud nine.

GO: Visit for reservations and more information.