There is so much more to Turkey than sun and sand: the borders of this vast country skirt around Europe, the old Soviet Union, the Middle East and the Caucasus, and you can find the influence of all of them in various places. The most travelled region is the western coasts, but you can also find dramatic scenery and cooler climes on the Black Sea, rich cuisine and culture in the south and east, and largely undiscovered wonders on the vast, empty Anatolian plateau. These days you can find excellent hotels everywhere, from the famous international chains to charming family-run places.
Right on the banks of the Bosphorus, this hotel is perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway. Book the Bosphorus Pasha Suite with its large patio doors leading to a sunlit private terrace – ready for your morning coffee and eggs. You can even ask the hotel to prepare your room with rose petals scattered across the bed and a candlelit bath. During the day, explore Istanbul from a private luxury yacht, which can be organised through the concierge.
Hillside Beach Club
More than two-thirds of guests at Hillside Beach Club on Fethiye’s Turquoise Coast are repeat bookers — and it’s easy to see why. Beehive-shaped rooms, all 330 of them, cling to a hillside that faces the star of the show: Kalemya Bay, where the Egyptian-blue waters of the Aegean are blotted with turquoise ink and a smattering of million-dollar yachts that come to lust over it from afar. Twenty-five daily exercise classes keep guests busy if they wish, though most choose to sun on one of three beaches: Serenity Beach is reached via a nature trail, Silent Beach, a sleepy cove where children, talking and mobile phones are banned and Main Beach, where waiters deliver freshly shaken cocktails at the touch of a button. There’s a traditional Hammam — perfect for a pre-tan scrub — and a Balinese spa, tucked into a pine-scented hillside. Standards don’t slip when it comes to food (most guests go full board); the Main Restaurant rivals Borough Market, with its choice of stalls piled high with local honey, olives and everything in between, and DJs set up decks on the all-white Pasha by the Bay as you sip frozen mojitos while the sun dips.
Rixos Premium Belek
Just along the oceanfront from Kempinski The Dome, and 50km from the city centre, is Rixos Premium Belek, occupying the largest section of private beach in the area. A great choice for families, there’s a kids club, playground, several massive pools, two-bedroomed suites, inter-connecting rooms and free entry to the nearby Land of Legends theme and water park. All part of the all-inclusive deal. Couples can enjoy the adult-only areas for a more peaceful stay and the privacy of a deluxe swim-up suite. Meals can be taken buffet-style in one of two eateries, or in a choice of three a la carte steak house, Italian and Turkish restaurants. In addition, the resort has eight bars and a full programme of activities excursions and classes.
Hotel Les Ottomans
European banks of the Bosphorus burned down in 1933 before being restored to its former glory in the 1980s, becoming an intimate boutique hotel that’s elegant in the extreme. The 10 unique suites are furnished like a palace, with gold paintwork, velvet walls, detailed mosaics, silk throws and black chandeliers, while the upscale restaurant Park Şamdan & the Bar and the intoxicating Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa are further luxurious touches.
Pera Palace Hotel
Built in 1892 to house Orient Express passengers about to embark on their long journey to Paris, the Pera Palace is an Istanbul institution. Other than the Ottoman palaces of the time, this was the first building in the country to offer electricity, hot running water and an elevator, which still works today. This opulent 19th-century vibe remains throughout each of its 115 rooms and suites. The hotel is located one block from the boutiques of İstiklal Avenue in Beyoğlu, and foodies will also love their stay here: enjoy afternoon tea in the Kubbeli Lounge, take dinner at the glitzy Agatha Restaurant and have drinks at the dimly lit Orient Bar.