A bar without a name, an inconspicuous black door, a foyer looking like it would lead into a job centre. A neighbourhood full of Cafés and Bars, hidden in between narrow streets, alleys and rundown houses. We explored spots in Istanbul, which you can barely find in any travel guide and we picked out tourist attractions, you have to see.
The first thing you should know about flying to Istanbul is, there are two airports. It doesn’t sound extraordinary, but it can cause confusion. Istanbul-Atatürk is the one closer to the city centre. Most of the budget airline flights approach Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen. From there, it’s about 40km to downtown. After arriving in the city, we exit the car at a side alley next to Galata Tower. The Hotel should be here, apparently.
Katha and I look confused until we see someone coming out of an inconspicuous black glass door. A door with no name or sign. The person coming out of the door is the concierge of the hotel, politely welcoming us:
“Welcome to the Georges Hotel”
We get on the rooftop terrace and there’s already a welcome drink waiting for us. We are completely enthusiastic about this hotel now. The view of the Bosporus, the golden horn and those fancy chill-out sofas make it really hard for us to leave the hotel to explore the city.
But before we start, we want to know, where are the “places to be” in Istanbul? Where do the locals meet? Which Cafés and Restaurants are not written down in any travel guides?
Gerrit from the Georges Hotel told us the most authentic and hidden places away from the tourist crowd in our interview. The 34-year old hotel manager from Berlin lives in Istanbul for 1.5 years.
What are your favourite restaurants in Istanbul?
It’s hard to say. Istanbul has an astounding number of restaurants. Most of the popular restaurants got a breathtaking view.
- Karaköy Lokantası: Fantastic traditional food, especially for lunch.
- Dai Pera: A small, charming restaurant with warm-hearted service and traditional food
- Le Furmoir: Is definitely part of the list. I went there quite often before I started working here.
- Naif: A classy restaurant, where I really like to go for lunch.
- Münferit: In my opinion, one oft he best restaurants if you want to feel the energy of Istanbul.
- Pim: You can find it in Karaköy, fantastic for a small snack, you definitely need to order falafel and the Cheesecake-Brownie for desert.
What are your favourite Cafés? Where is a cozy place to have breakfast?
For a good coffee and a comfortable atmosphere I woul recommend following Cafés:
- Seven Grams
- Karabatak – Katha’s Comment: The Cappuccino ist a dream! (for all vegans: you can even get soy milk)
- Geyik: A tiny, cute Café full of cats in Cihangir. In the evening it’s a bar.
What are you favourite bars?
My clear favourite is a bar known as “Alex Bar”. The bar itself has no name, but most of the time you can meet the owner called Alex over there.
Gaspar and Unter in Karaköy
Lucca in Bebek
Mikla: I always like to come here with visitors, just because their rooftop terrace provides a stunning view.
What are you favourite clubs?
For elektronic music MiniMüzikHol in Cihangir. An old flat in the heart of Instanbul, converted to a club.
Ulus29 is a club I love to recommend. Classy, international and a great view.
‘Must see’ attractions and spots you don’t really need to go to – within a stay of four days?
The classics are Topkapı Palast, Hagia Sofia, the big Bazaar, spice market and the Blue Mosque. It probably takes up to two day to do all of this. In my opinion Süleymaniye Moschee, Chora Curch, Pier Loti and Basilika zisterne are worth a vsit.
We are not really lucky with the weather this day, so we just go to a variety of art exhibitions. Next to Instanbul Modern, we go to Galerie Nev and Misir Apartments.
After exploring the city, Katha and I walk back to the hotel to relax on the rooftop for a bit. By the way, the rooftop terrace is not only for hotel guests, visitors are also welcome. And therefore it doesn’t matter if you’d just like to drink a cup of tea, wine or just enjoy the view.
You can feel the individual and friendly treatment of Georges Hotel, thanks to as few as 20 stylish rooms.
Istanbul, Gerrit, Alex – It’s been a pleasure.
“Hoscakal, tekrar görüşmek üzere!”