During her recent visit to the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, Absolute Travel general manager Leslie Overton (and Conde Nast Top Travel Specialist) encountered the worlds tallest building, gold dispensing ATMs, and even navigated the Bosphorus River. She is full of fresh information, including the abundance of wonderful properties in the regions. Here are a few of her discoveries:
Armani Hotel Dubai: This is the first of the Armani line of hotels and it is located in the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. The location is excellent, adjacent to the Dubai Mall and looking out on the fountains. It is the one area of Dubai where you can actually walk to restaurants and shops. The Armani aesthetic is minimalistic elegance, while the Armani concept follows Feng Shui principles, so there are undulating spaces and no corners in the rooms. The doors are hidden pocket doors, which can be a problem if you are looking for the TV or the bathroom! Lifestyle managers oversee every aspect of your stay, before and during your visit. The rooms were a little dark for me, with striped wood and gray wall coverings, but I loved the public spaces. The restaurants are all reasonable and the food was wonderful. For those staying elsewhere, I highly recommend stopping by for a meal or cocktail to get a taste of the Armani experience.
Pera Palace Hotel, Istanbul: This is the original hotel built for the guests of the Orient Express, and Agatha Christie is rumored to have penned some of “Murder on the Orient Express” here. Originally opened in 1892, the property was closed down a few years ago and totally overhauled. The results are stunning. By eliminating all of the interior rooms they were able to lower the roof dome to just above the lobby, resulting in refreshing natural light (many people may remember how dark it was before). Every room in the “Pearl of Istanbul” houses an original antique… even the silver in the bakery, which was found in a hidden room during the renovations! There is an Agatha Christie suite complete with her key, typewriter, and a collection of her books and news clippings. And on top of all the charming details that make this one of my favorite properties in this glorious city, the location is perfect, just fifteen minutes by foot to bustling Taksim Square. This is my new pick for anyone who wants to experience the history of Istanbul on their journey.
Park Hyatt Istanbul – Maçka Palas, Istanbul: I had been told that this property was inconveniently located, but I disagree! I loved the new neighborhood of high-end retail shops and restaurants. The property itself was absolutely beautiful. The spa bathrooms in the Spa rooms were so relaxing, they had to drag me away from a light treatment! I also loved the bright and airy atrium lobby. This is one of the few city hotels in Istanbul that has an outdoor pool. This modern pick is quickly becoming a favorite among our clients for its location and facilities.
I saw and stayed at many more properties that I loved (like the always beautiful Park Hyatt Dubai Hotel) but I wanted to comment on the few I felt are especially changing the hotel scenes in their destinations. If you are planning a trip to the UAE or Turkey I would love to talk with you about it! Please feel free to contact me for ideas, suggestions or a customized private itinerary for your family!