Raffles — Istanbul, Turkey
On reflection, it was a canny decision to open Raffles in Istanbul’s most ambitious mixed-use development. Designed by architects Emre Arolat and Murat Tabanlioglu, the Zorlu Center, in the Besiktas district, is a mammoth 21st-century bazaar heaving with boldface-name retailers (the world’s third largest Apple Store, for instance), a West End-style theatre, private apartments, offices, food and drink outlets, and art galleries. Occupying the seventh to 21st floors of the east tower, the 181-room Raffles has the feel of a modern pasha’s digs. The LA-based interior design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates has dressed the space in lush Byzantine silk, gold mosaics, traditional Turkish textiles and an impressive collection of specially commissioned paintings, sculpture, video art and photography. All rooms feature a balcony with the best views overlooking the Bosphorus and the Princes’ Islands. If none of that pleases, the two pools (one on the roof alongside the helipad) and a 3,000 sq m spa stocked with products from The Organic Pharmacy most definitely will.