Nişantaşı: Where history meets luxury

ARDA SAYINER @ardasayiner
Published 09.04.2016 00:00

Nişantaşı is the apple of Istanbul's eye. With its restaurants, cafes and luxury stores of worldwide brands, fashion houses, art galleries, modern streets and historic apartments it is one of the most popular districts in the city

When Nişantaşı is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the stones that the district was named after. Following the renovation of the Teşvikiye Mosque in 1853-54, Sultan Abdülmecid erected two stone monuments there as a testament to his wish to establish this neighborhood.

One of these monuments is located in a small space near the Harbiye Police Office on Teşvikiye Street while the other can be found at the intersection of three center streets of Teşvikiye, Rumeli and Vali Konağı. With the inscription that reads: "The monument of the gratuitous kindness of Sultan Abdülmecid, the New Teşvikiye Neighborhood," Nişantaşı's name is derived from these monuments as the very first modern neighborhood in Ottoman Istanbul. The other symbol of the district is the Teşvikiye Mosque. Known for its distinct yellow façade, the mosque was built in 1854 over the wooden mosque that was built by Sultan Selim III between 1794 and 1795. The two milestones in the mosque's garden represent the architectural practices of earlier Ottomans.

As for the venues in Nişantaşı, there are many alternatives. Nişantaşı is home to the only French restaurant in all of Turkey, La Petit Maison. Similarly, a venue that was established by the minorities of the region, Şütte Şarküteri, is another place the district is known for that has unique products. If you want to try distinctly local flavors, Tarihi Saray Muhallebicisi has been serving guests at this location for years, offering milky deserts and delicious döner. The Beymen Brassiere and the House Cafe at the corner of the Teşvikiye Mosque welcome us as the classics in Nişantaşı. In recent months, the trendiest venues have been Grey, Alancha, Wanda and Frankie.

Among the modern places gracing Nişantaşı's streets, the St. Regis Hotel is the most popular. One of the most prestigious hotels in the world, the St. Regis is known for its rich architecture, convenient location, beautiful design and masterpieces, all of which embody its luxury, and the hotel staff is very experienced. Rui Reis, the hotel's general director, is a real professional. He is a gentleman who exudes class, experience and knowledge of the hospitality sector, bringing impeccable quality to this world-known brand. Rui Reis is from Portugal, bringing world-class experience to guests at the St. Regis in Istanbul. As one of the ventures of the CEO of Demsa Group, Demet Sabancı, the St. Regis shines as a pearl.

The lobby of the St. Regis houses the beautiful artwork of world-renowned magical realist painter, Fernando Botero. A giant oil painting of Istanbul, by artist Devrim Erbil, is also in the lobby. In addition, the hotel suites are also pieces of art in their own right. Copper plating in the suites brings a classic style and beauty. The Bentley Suite in particular offers a unique accommodation alternative. Featuring marble floors, lounge suites, door handles and many other details inspired by Bentley automobiles, its designs are all original. Even the mini fridge in the lounge suite is designed to resemble a car seat, and the champagne bottle awaiting you in the mini fridge, accessible with just the push of a button, attests to this suite's unique style. The spa and detox center at the hotel offer exclusive experiences as well.

The Brassiere at the entrance of the hotel is the ideal stop for a tea or coffee break during the day, offering a lunch and dinner menu as well. Here, the black and white checker flooring is very nostalgic. You can see the work of Robert Indiana, designed with letters in the shape of the word "love" in front. It is a unique work of art that is worth a fortune.

However, if you are looking for food at the St. Regis, the Spago is one of the best venues at the hotel. Established by Wolfgang Puck, Spago made its debut in Turkey after having opened in other locations around the world. With Brazilian parquet floor at the entrance, the Marc Queen- and Andy Warhol-signed paintings, worth millions, grace the walls. With lounge suites in aqua blue, this restaurant indeed has a mesmerizing ambiance. Let's not forget to mention the photographs of Wolfgang Puck taken with Hollywood and European movie stars that adorn the walls. Combined with views of Maçka Park and the Bosporus, all these details create a very pleasant ambiance. Since the weather is better now, you can spend pleasurable moments on Spago's terrace. My suggestion is that you try out their signature cocktails while enjoying the view. Each cocktail on the menu is more unique than the next, with my personal favorites the angels & politician cocktail and Pandora's Box.

As for the unique dishes from Chef Peleg Miron, the spicy tuna tartar is a great choice for a first course. Served in crunchy sesame cones, this unique dish is just one of the bar snacks on the menu. Orange marinated meat slices wrapped in crunchy lettuce leaves are also great for a first course. If you are a health nut, the seabream sashimi salad is the perfect appetizer. You can also order pizza with zucchini blossoms to share with a guest. As for the main course, the sauteed Alaskan lobster was indeed delicious. The lobster is picked out at your table and it is served with sambal sauce. For red meat lovers, the dry-aged rib steak is really delicious. In addition to the silver forks and knives, the presentation of the plates that are served on your table, is also quite impressive. As for desert, the fruit millefeuille is quite fresh. The puff pastry is freshly baked to order.

Congratulations to the team at Spago for contributing such unique dishes to Istanbul. If you have not experienced this level of elegance yet, visit the St. Regis Hotel, and Spago, as soon as you can to pamper yourself in the historical and trendy neighborhood of Nişantaşı. Luxury, sophistication and history meet here. Come and be a part of it.

Top 3 Restaurants of The Week

- Spago / Nişantaşı

- Galliard / Etiler

- Mitte / Karakö

Top 3 Hotels of The Week

- St. Regis / Nişantaşı

- Ravouna / Beyoğlu

- Grand Tarabya / Tarabya

Top 3 People to Follow This Week

- Hülya Öz / Architect

- Koray Erkaya / Photographer

- Hande Oğuz / Tourism expert


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