What do you remember of your first love? Which are your sweetest memories? How do you write about the spot that made you feel at the right place at the right moment? You know, the one that awoke these special sensations in you and opened a door to a complete unknown yet exciting universe? That specific hotel which made you understand that everything seemed possible and that life would never be the same after discovering its existence?
I can still recall the emotions I felt when I visited the breathtaking Pera Palace in Istanbul in the fabulous Şişhane neighborhood.
Shall I say I was overwhelmed? Surprised? Speechless? I guess it was a mix of everything, plus a jaw drop that could not be closed as every step I took, was leading to another enchanting revelation.
Visiting this jewel turned out to be quite an adventure as every corner of every room of every hall seemed to scream for my attention and with a valid reason, as every discovery was pushing me towards a historical, architectural and stylish tunnel filled with various original lights and stars that were shining bright like the novelty and authenticity they were representing.
The smile of our guide, the bellboy, literally mesmerized us as not only was it a real and friendly smile, but he welcomed my friends and me by immediately immersing us into the very heart of the palace. It was truly lovely as you could really feel his pride to be working for this museum hotel which is an integral part of Turkey’s who’s who and history.
World history, which could be sensed everywhere and made me realize that the mixture of Ottoman and European culture and taste leads to perfection as the elements that were chosen to represent the two different societies are not the ones you are used to encounter.
Quite the contrary! The palazzo’s domes which can be found on the ceilings have an utterly modern and trendy designed look, the flower bouquets are like the ones I wholeheartedly admired in Château de Chenonceau in the French Loire region, the chandeliers are decorated by tremendous beautiful and delicate Art Nouveau flowers and so are the typical Moresque arches which are surrounding the whole lobby by their glamour and colors.
Although the gem was built in 1892 to host the passengers of the Orient Express, it has always been ahead of its time as it was the first building to be powered by electricity, provide hot running water and was home to the first electric elevator in Istanbul.
But this is not all; the current management has understood the importance of a big and welcoming lobby where all generations (X, Y, Z, Babyboomers and Seniors) can find their happiness and show off their Pepsodent smiles.
You will meet young and older couples enjoying a delicious glass of Champaign, businessmen leading a discreet meeting in one of the many lobby corners, young adults laughing and shooting some stunning and unforgettable Instagram moments, and children running around the premises to discover the secret passageways of this luxurious masterpiece.
No wonder the Queen of detective novels, Agatha Christie, who stayed in room 411 of this stupefying myriad, is said to have written her famous Murder on the Orient Express here, as the place totally answers to the atmosphere needed to create a perfect murder scene in a striking environment.
I can totally imagine that her book might have inspired Alfred Hitchcock to turn her story into an improvisation masterpiece held in the grand lobby where other Pera Palace guests such as Josephine Baker, Sarah Bernhardt, Greta Garbo, Mata Hari and Ernest Hemingway would have been honored to join the party!
I know, you must think my imagination is taking over my existence but believe me, once you will set a foot in these magnificent premises, you will also long to let your creativity lead the way into this mysterious universe which will seduce you and turn out to be an absolute must!