Hagia Sophia Mansions — Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia Mansions — Istanbul, Turkey

When it comes to pedigree and location, it’s difficult to trump the new Hagia Sophia Mansions in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet quarter.

The British interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard has parlayed his penchant for Middle-Eastern exoticism, geometric patterns and lush fabrics into a 21st-century pasha’s pleasure dome.

Located on the edge of the Topkapi palace, the hotel comprises a sweep of richly textured  75 rooms and a private villa that were carved out of a cluster of Ottoman ambassadors’ homes. The illusion of Arabian Nights romanticism is reinforced by a number of conceits, not least reflecting water pools, chandeliers, brass lanterns and Ottoman-inspired wallpaper to go with the hand-carved beds and mini-hammam in each bathroom.

And if the views of the Topkapi or the Blue Mosque aren’t sufficiently thrilling, the subterranean spa earns extra points for its atmospheric setting in an original Roman aqueduct, as does the house restaurant Sarnic, which is inserted into a cavernous 1,500-year-old water cistern.

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