Friday, January 8, 2010

Merhaba! (that's hello in Turkish) and all good wishes to anyone who may be reading this in 2010. My Istanbul book has been out for almost four months, and I'm going to devote my blog to this amazing city almost exclusively until the publication of my next book, which will feature Tuscany and Umbria, and will be available in April.

The photo above is the subject of today's post, a hotel called Tomtom Suites, (, located in the Beyoglu neighborhood of Istanbul. Tomtom hadn't yet opened when I was last in Istanbul, so it's not recommended in my book, but I've been hearing so much about it from friends and acquaintances that I feel I would be remiss if I didn't mention it here. The hotel opened in the summer of 2009 and was once a convent dating from the 1850s -- the original building was part of the French Palace (Beyoglu before the 1920s was home to not only a large French community but Italian and lots of other Europeans as well, and even today there are a number of foreign consulates located here) that was reserved for Franciscan nuns. In 1901 the building was redesigned as the Soeurs Garde-Malades Apartment and was home to many Greek and other Levantine families. Tomtom is just off the pedestrian thoroughfare Istiklal Caddesi, which can be noisy at night; but what I'm told about Tomtom is that it's perfectly quiet if not downright serene, which may be at least partially due to the old, thick walls of the building.

The photo above is of the hotel's rooftop (teras in Turkish) so as you can see the view is terrific, and I imagine it would be an incredible place to watch the sunset. The hotel's exterior has been faithfully restored to its 19th century appearance, but the interior is very modern, with a glass elevator, lots of beige colors, wood floors, flat-screen tvs, Molton Brown toiletries, and white marble bathrooms with heated floors. There are deluxe, junior, and senior suites, which I'm told are all quite large, as well as the top floor executive suite, with its own private terrace and Jacuzzi.

Tomtom is near the Istanbul Modern and the Pera Museum -- both among my favorites -- as well as all of the trendy, chic excitement that thrives on Istiklal, formerly the Grande Rue de Pera. A number of Istanbul's most noteworthy restaurants are within the vicinity of Tomtom, too, and the Old City of Sultanahmet is only a ten minute cab ride away.

Heartwarming to me is that Tomtom also has a library stocked with volumes on Istanbul's history -- see photo below -- which is where I will undoubtedly be spending some time (if I ever leave the teras) when I finally visit the hotel:

Approximate rates, which change seasonally and are per room, per night (there are no rooms designated single or double), are 180 euros for a Deluxe Suite; 220 euros for a Junior Suite; 270 euros for a Senior Suite, and 500 euros for the Executive Suite. (Very thoughtfully, the staff has included directions to Tomtom in Turkish on its website, so visitors may print them out and give to taxi drivers at the airport.)