The sparkling new Raffles Hotel in Istanbul proves that designs are created in dreams and luxury can be an extension of fantasy.
Istanbul has been at the crux of social, political and cultural revolutions since ages. While today it is one of the most forward-looking cities of the world, Istanbul continues to carry relics of its affluent past. It is this juxtaposition of influences that makes this great city a must-visit place on every traveller´s bucket list. In a city that has been both ravaged and enriched with time, what can a luxury hotel do to enhance this wonderful confluence? Well, it can add a timeless appeal to the place... the way Raffles Istanbul Hotel has done.
Located at the heart of the new Zorlu Center in Istanbul, Raffles Hotel has breathtaking views of the Bosphorus and the Prince Islands. The interiors of the hotel are as inspiring as the sights outside, with the 181 rooms and suites with door-to-ceiling windows and balconies housing some of the most exquisite contemporary art collections of Istanbul.
Sandra Cortner, Raffles Istanbul Lead Designer, Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), summarises the idea of the hotel´s design succinctly: ´The first question was û what would a guest coming into this landmark building expect? It would be neither historical or classic nor aggressively contemporary. We decided to make it transitional. We need to connect the hotel with the destination to give it a sense of place. Art is part of the fabric of every Raffles hotel, which is seamlessly incorporated into the overall design. That´s how we arrived at our concept, ´The Dream of Istanbul´.
This dream was created by designers at HBA Atlanta (who designed all the guestrooms, lobby, lobby lounge, long bar, writer´s bar and ballroom) and The Gallery HBA in London (who created the schemes for the hotel´s Arola Restaurant, the Champagne Room and Raffles Spa).
The city of Istanbul itself was the inspiration for this hotel´s design. The interiors flaunt jewels worn by the Emperor and Empress from the Byzantine era. The palette and artworks, too, echo the jewel tones. Another indigenous feature is the mosaic tile. Inge Moore, Principal and Creative Director of The Gallery HBA, elaborates further: ´Our aim when designing Raffles´ signature spa, Arola restaurant and the Champagne Room was to reflect the energetic new vibe of Istanbul û avant-garde, cosmopolitan and full of optimism.´
An onyx vestibule with a stunning gold mosaic floor under foot and a sparkling crystal chandelier overhead welcome the guests on arrival, as they proceed towards the grand lobby with reflecting pools. A monumental abstract bronze sculpture by artist Martin Dawe, called Lavinia, is the focal point here. The image of the Dolmabahte Palace by French hyper-photo realist, Jean-Francois Rauzier is another eye-catcher here.
Art meets life
The interiors of Arola Restaurant combine the dark lustre of Turkish black salt with lighter colours and deep accents, while stylised Turkish cut-outs inspired by kilim tapestries are hung from the ceiling. The restaurant has an extended alfresco dining area, too. The Champagne Room has glazed wine displays framed in brass and with a curved counter formed from polished stone slabs. Turkey´s ´whirling dervishes´ inspire the glass bubble chandelier here. The Singaporean Long Bar is re-imagined in Istanbul with mirrors and a sculpture by Oylum Oktem, while the Writer´s Bar sports a ceramic book art installation by Ismail Oklugi.
Moving on from the dining areas, the ballroom comes as an elegant surprise. Here again an installation of woven metal Kaftans by Yasemin Aslan Bakiri greets the guests, while 2,316 crystal stars strewn across the ceiling are reminiscent of the night sky. The spa is designed around the concept of water - be it the droplet-like lights or a water sculpture featuring lotus plants.
The vision of ´The Dream of Istanbul´ culminates in the guest rooms with custom mural depicting iconic landmarks like Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque together with the hand-woven Turkish carpets.
Raffles Hotel stands for the new Istanbul, a city that is full of energy and innovation with a firm grasp on its rich heritage.
Text: Kanishka Ramchandani
Tel: +1 404 873 4379.