Turkey may feel risky, but work takes Neil Gold there, so he likes to do it in style
Some 2,500,000 British nationals visit Turkey every year and most visits are trouble-free. Obviously recent events have made the prospect of a trip to the country a bit daunting, but like a lot of people in the fashion business, Istanbul features large and as I also love the city so I try to turn it into a positive experience. One way of guaranteeing that is to stay in the right hotel and that’s the Park Bosphorous.
Situated just around the corner from Taksim Square for easy access to the business districts, the hotel is also well located for some of the historical sites and good shops and the Blue Mosque is a short cab ride away. Sadly a business trip rarely involves much sight-seeing, but if you are taking your partner along they will benefit from the location.
After a ‘Gran Prix’ style race from the airport (Turkish cabbies aren’t afraid of speed) it is always a relief to get to the Park Bosphorous and enter the huge lobby area where traditional tea is served in the afternoons to the tinkling of the ivories on a grand piano.
The hotel is big on art and a lot of it is available to buy, though the portraits of sultans’ wives and mothers aren’t going anywhere as the hotel floors are individually named after them.
Ask any businessman what he wants most from a hotel and the response is likely to be good service and an extremely comfortable bed, but the addition of butler service for the suites is most welcome. Rebuilt two years ago with 385 rooms and 65 residences for long-staying guests, the original Park Hotel stood on the site of the Italian embassy in the 18th century which welcomed such celebrated guests as King Edward VII who was there to meet Mustafa Kemal Atatürk , the founder of modern Turkey .
It still gets interesting guests, but they are more interested in the gyms (there are two with one just for women), the classes (pilates, spin, yoga) and the amazing CUK Safira Spa which has an indoor pool, which converts into an outdoor one during the summer.
With every type of massage known to man available, there are also a few Haman’s but if you want the full treatment you can book a private treatment room which is bigger than the ground floor of most houses.
In my bedroom overlooking the Bosphorus, any thoughts of leaving to do some work are put briefly on hold, as the bed is huge, the Jacuzzi bath double-sized and the fridge well-stocked -but a man has to eat.
Istanbul is a great city if you love your food – particularly the Middle Eastern kind, but business travellers like to eat in after a long day in the factories and the Park Bosphorous has enough to offer on site that a trip out isn’t necessary.
The Hezarfen, a modern western-style bar/restaurant with hubba bubba pipes that serves alcohol, pasta and sandwiches is accessed via several roof top bridges or you can eat on The Terrace (the biggest roof top terrace in Istanbul) which has a selection of eateries offering sushi and the like along with Izaka (it means “to taste” in the Ottaman language) which serves the most amazing food, meat,fish and vegetarian dishes which is very unusual in Istanbul. As I said for a visitor who in town on a mission, the Park Bosphorous is the ultimate place to stay and I returned home looking more well fed and contented than one should from a business trip.
There are more Shuls in Istanbul than you might expect, but be aware that they all require appointments in advance.
Ask your hotel for the proper forms and if they can fax over a copy of your passport.
The Ahrida Synagogue is the oldest and in Balat, the neighbourhood, where the Jewish families were brought from Spain during the expulsion in 1492.
The Neve Shalom is a beautiful synagogue located in Beyoglu, which has been bombed twice and now has the tightest security.
Neve Shalom also contains the only mikvah in Istanbul, and is the only Shul currently in use for Shabbat services.
The most well known Kosher restaurant is La Casa De Barinyurt Restaurant in Şişli (+90 212 246 22 25) which is open every day for lunch and delivers evening meals.
• Stay at the Park Bosphorous Hotel in a Superior King Room from £128 per night with breakfast. For more information or reservations