Travel Spotlight

Istanbul's Karaköy

The banks of Istanbul’s Beyoglu neighborhood used to be known for the Istanbul Modern, an innovative art museum that abuts the Bosphorus. But these days, the Karaköy district is fast becoming the city’s hottest area, attracting in-the-know, cool Istanbulites thanks to innovative galleries, funky cafés, chic boutiques and—now—the arrival of a sophisticated boutique hotel. With a pulsating scene and youthful vibe, the bohemian area is partaking in a cultural revival—and it’s ready for its close up.

Judging from the success of their previous projects, including the ever-expanding House Café and House Hotel brands can do no wrong. The property fuses old and new with its historic residence—within a 19th-century bank—and location in Karaköy, a sub-neighborhood within popular Beyoglu. The boutique hotel, with 63 rooms, retains antique charm (with molding and green marble) while still feeling modern. Art-aficionados will adore the rotating exhibits within the hotel. And despite its size, the hotel has no shortage of amenities; guests have access to a spa, gym and restaurant, and there is even an underground wine cellar, housed in a former bank vault, for those who want to hand-select the perfect bottle. Opened in early March 2014, the chic spot is already popular with younger travelers, as well as those looking for a convenient location that is near the Galata Bridge that leads to the classic sights in Sultanahmet, but also surrounded by new hotspots.

A crop of cozy cafés have recently opened in the up-and-coming neighborhood, like the nautical-inspired Ops Café (Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa, Mumhane Cd. 45) and locavore Naif (Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa, Mumhane Cd. 52), both of which are excellent for a light breakfast or lunch. For something more elevated, foodies adore the fine-dining experience at Surplus (Rüstem Paşa, Mh. No:, Ragıp Gümüşpala Cd. 54).

Shoppers no longer have to travel to nearby Nisantasi for the best boutiques, either, as a number of new offerings have recently opened in this blossoming neighborhood. Lab:Istanbul (Mahmutbey Mah. Tasocagi Cad.) stocks the latest in home décor and accessories; and Hic Crafts (Hacımimi, Lüleci Hendek Cd. 35) has an uber-chic collection of furnishings and art.

Heralded in part by a number of new galleries, the rise of Karaköy has resulted in an artistic, hipster patronage that gives life to the friendly streets. First on the list of locals and tourists is the beloved Istanbul Modern, a waterfront gallery known for cutting-edge exhibitions. For a more one-off experience, plugged-in travelers head to Elipsis (, a fantastic photography gallery.

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