Edition Hotel – This smart and grand hotel is found in the Levent business district, a little removed from the city centre. Rooms are indulgently large with modern amenities fit for a princess. Be sure to trial the beautiful ESPA underground spa.
Georges Hotel – located in the centre of the buzzy Galata area, this lovely little luxury boutique hotel is discreet and stylish. Breakfast on the sunny rooftop overlooking the sea and city was a highlight, and the thoughtful service is particularly memorable.
Lokanta Maya – Housed in a chic dining room this hugely popular neighbourhood restaurant offers flavourful and fresh food made by chef Didem Senol. I recommend choosing a range of smaller plates from the tapas style menu, they are irresistibly tasty.
Kosebasi – This traditional Turkish restaurant has several outlets in Istanbul. Serving juicy grilled meats and fragrant salads it is the perfect place for a light lunch, though the service was a bit lofty when I visited.
Mangerie – The Bebek district is by the sea and is where many of the stylish Turkish ladies lunch. Mangerie is at the top of an unlikely scruffy building, with a view of the Bosphorus and a lovely outdoor terrace. The contemporary menu features delicious sweet and savoury dishes.
Cok Cok – Voted best Ethnic restaurant in Turkey this casual eatery serves delicious authentic Thai food, ideal if you are craving a break from Turkish delicacies.
Kofteci Huseyin – we sampled numerous meatball outlets, this modest café serves the best in town. Costing under £5 a head it is a bargain too!
Karakoy Gulluglu – I’ve never liked baklava, that is until trialling this Turkish institution where all the locals get their sweet fix. These fresh and flaky pastry snacks are a must try in Istanbul.
Bar with no name – affectionately known as Alex’s Place, this tiny cocktail place is a hidden secret to the Turkish locals but foreigners flock to try the renowned mixologist, Alex Waldman’s creations. I loved the strong bourbon based ‘God Save the Queen’ drink. Open at 10pm Tuesday –Saturday.
Delicatessen Pera – a lively and atmospheric restaurant and bar in the centre of town, perfect for classic fresh cocktails and a great vibe.
Karabatak – This retro cosy coffee shop is ideal for a catch up with friends. Sit inside amongst the fascinating vintage artefacts, or enjoy the breeze outdoors on the street seating. Karabatak serves the Austrian Julius Meinl coffee, a popular brand in Istanbul.
Fenix – the venue everyone is talking about… Fenix is a sophisticated eatery and bar serving immaculate and exotic cocktails to a gorgeous crowd.
Grand Bazaar – this chaotic market is a labyrinth of little lanes and sparkling jewelled stalls. It is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops.
Spice Market – The Egyptian Spice Bazaar in Istanbul has been selling nuts, fruits and spices since 1664. Fragrant and colourful, the mounds of powdered specialities, sweet dates and Turkish delight are as tasty as they look and smell.
Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami – after an intensive seven-year restoration which finished in 2013, this historic Turkish bath is restored back to its former glory. Men and Women have different hours but receive the same treatment. Let the staff scrub you clean and lather you with moisturising soak, you will leave feeling fresher than ever before.
ESPA spa at Edition Hotel – this extraordinary 20,000 square foot, three-floor ESPA spa offers everything you could need to totally indulge and relax. Opt for a traditional hamam or just enjoy the endless facilities.
Galata Tower – A medieval stone tower in the Galata/Karaköy quarter of Istanbul. Get the lift to the top and admire the 360 views of the city.
Salt Galata – This design haven is a wonderful place to spend time in Istanbul. Now with two venues, SALT explores critical and timely issues in visual and material culture, and cultivates innovative and intriguing exhibitions.
Istanbul Modern – An unmissable contemporary art museum prominently featuring the work of talented Turkish artists.
Pilot Galeri – This hidden, underground gallery aims to be an inter-disciplinary space that supports creative projects. I loved the strange and inquisitive ‘Seeing the Black Panther’ show by Elmas Deniz.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque – is known often as the Blue Mosque because of the azure tiles that adorn the interior walls. This historic mosque in Istanbul was built from 1609 to 1616, and is a magnificent example of religious Turkish architecture.
Suleymaniye Mosque – this Ottoman imperial mosque is located on the Third Hill of Istanbul. It is the largest mosque in the city, and one of the best-known sights of Istanbul.
Dolmabahce Palace – I have never seen such an ornate and lavish building in my entire life. Dolmabahce was built by Sultan Abdulmecid (1839-1861) and remains one of the most spectacular sights to see in Instanbul. Visitors are only allowed round with an accompanying tour guide, who fiercely barked at us as we walked obediently behind her.
Basilica Sistern – Eerie and magical this ancient underground world was a Roman water source held up with 336 marble columns covering 9,800 square metres. Walk through to discover the menacing Medusa stone heads.
Yastik by Rifat Ozbek – Yastik means cushion in Turkish, and that is exactly what you find in this wonderful emporium. The beautiful cushions in this shop instantly transport you to a different place and culture: brightly coloured, patterned and lovely to touch they are carefully designed and made to be the finest quality. I would have loved a selection of the mini lavender-filled cushions to scent all my drawers of clothes.
Selda Okutan – This imaginative and inventive jewellery tells a story. Sculptural jewels and tiny figures are Selda’s specialities, though I fell in love with the silver and gold ant brooches that perfectly resemble the little insects!
Fey – This beautiful and eclectic wardrobe-style shop is owned by the long-time General Manager and Publishing Director of Turkish Marie Claire, Fatoş Yalın. The boutique is stocked with one-off vintage gems and a selection of delicate and divine own branded clothes. I particularly loved the handmade silk shirts which are softer than any I have felt before, and look simple but seductive when worn. Fey is a treasure trove to explore and admire.
Kağıthane – This delightful artisan stationery store is filled with intriguing and desirable accessories and paper creations. There are several outlets, I visited the shop in the trendy Karaköy area. A great little place for browsing and picking up souvenirs.
Sumahan on the Water – Set sail across the water to the Asian side of Istanbul. This elegant and quiet boutique design hotel has 20 rooms and suites, a lovely open-air restaurant and small spa, all on the waterfront of the Bosphorus.