Merhaba!

Hope all is well lovelies! x

My brother was in town a few weeks ago and me being the bestest big sister in the world decided to take him to Istanbul for a couple days! I’ve been before, around the same time last year actually! but it was a first for him and I’m pretty sure he had a fab time (he better have haha)

Istanbul is pure magic on its own, but finding someplace to stay which enhances that is a tad hit and miss. After my last trip, I really wanted to stay someplace in close proximity to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia; its all kinds of beautiful and hearing the call to prayer echo between both mosques amidst the hustle&bustle of people does things to your heart and soul and having the freedom to walk between the two at any time of day is just an experience on its own which leaves you in a state of blessings upon blessings and I just really really love it!

We stayed at the ever so lovely Hotel Empress Zoe, a boutique hotel situated in the heart of historic Sultanahmet and I kid you not, an approximate 8 minute walk to the grounds of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia! (I was hella excited!) A few minutes walking distance from there you’ve got the Cistern and Gulhane Park to visit, and can easily hop onto the metro if you’re headed elsewhere.

Besides its amazing location, the charming interior exudes a contemporary Byzantine feel which is showcased throughout the hotel. From the rooftop terrace, to the décor chosen in both the indoor and outdoor dining areas, to the intrinsic wood detailing in the bedrooms, it was hard not to feel like a modern-day Turkish princess haha (the most precious and fluffiest ginger house-cat included as well!) Given that the hotel is built from the remains of an Ottoman passage and barrel vaulted room, there is no elevator, however staff are more than helpful in taking baggage up and down the beautiful marble spiraled staircase for you. (yes, I took a shoe-fie on the staircase each day #noshame)

The hotel boasts 26 rooms, 4 of them being suites which include their own marble hamam-style bathrooms. A hamam is a traditional Turkish bath usually hosted in a communal type environment; so to have your own personal one is pretty freaking amazing! Pictured below is one of the suites (room 702) which has got its own stairwell entry and terrace, essentially your own private living quarters overlooking the beautiful garden below. Look at all that light legit just beaming through the windows! ah! I’m a big windows and letting light shine through type of person so totally in love with everything that was going on at this moment! It’s also a lovely choice if you’re traveling with your special someone for that added privacy and bit of seclusion from the rest of the hotel.

Breakfast and taxes are included in all bookings at the hotel; breakfast consists of a traditional Turkish mezze which included Turkish borek and a variety of cheeses and breads and olives and cereals etc. in an open buffet style concept meaning you could always go back for seconds so yes, more than enough food lol

We stayed in a double-room with a garden view and ugh, it was just so beautiful. A large wooden four-poster canopy bed to one side with a tradition Turkish sedir on the other (large couch built on the wall covered in textiles and pillows used for lounging on sleeping) (this was basically the brothers bed lol). Consistent flow of water (hot and cold) in the bathroom and shower was ace as well; the only only gripe I had was that the full length mirrors in the room were both on opposite sides of the window lol so to put on makeup or even take pictures just didn’t happen because it couldn’t as everything was just dark, but that might just have been our room!

I have to say my most favorite part of the hotel would be the attention to detail in terms of the décor and furniture chosen to effectively execute a tactile presence of another time. All the furniture, textiles, pillows etc. are made up of a collection of old Turkish pieces, and its careful curation comes off as effortless; broken pieces of paving, Ottoman marble fountains and antique stone artifacts lying about as though they’ve been there for centuries. The rooftop terrace with its breathtaking view of the Bosphorus glistening in sunlight to your left, with the two mosques to your right was another fave, alongside the sunken lobby upon entrance to the hotel. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous!x

If you’re ever in town, or Istanbul is on your bucket list, make it happen in the new year and get yourself a room at the Empress Zoe (click here). Being a boutique hotel, not only will it exceed your expectations and provide a much more authentic experience and appreciation for traditional Turkish architecture, but promise it’ll make your trip that little more special x

Thank you a million and one to the exceptionally helpful and friendly staff at Hotel Empress Zoe for providing complimentary stay for the 2 nights. All opinions are my own.

Merhaba!

A long weekend was randomly gifted to us a few weeks ago so Miss Iman and I ventured to Istanbul where we met up with her mama dearest. I’ve been to Istanbul a couple times before so wasn’t too stressy about itineraries and cramming a whole lot into 3days, but it was such a lovely getaway and the weather was beautiful, that perfect chill where its not too hot and not too cold but a blanket scarf provides the right amount of cozy warmth lol that kind! Being able to just stroll around and have a change of scenery was super refreshing alongside the endless amount of food consumed haha baklava (Hafiz Mustafa is the one!) and Turkish delights and chocolate mushrooms and tea and mmmmmm so so good lol

We initially almost missed our flight thanks to my sleeping in and Iman literally barging into my flat thinking I had died lol (sorry love x ) and then got scammed by a taxi driver upon arrival which wasn’t very fun, but alhamdulillah not too many incidents after that! Stayed in the most ideal location, a 5 minute walk to the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia which made my ickle heart super warm and fuzzy and content with life, especially when hearing the adhan at prayer times. The Blue Mosque is one of those places which leaves you in awe no matter how many times you see it and being in such close proximity to it was beautiful. I decided to be adventurous one morning and head out for Fajr prayers but chickened out last minute because I didn’t want to get kidnapped lawl. but I made it for jumah which was such an experience! I’ve written about my love for jumah in other countries and masjids etc etc etc lol so I won’t get into it again, but one of those heartwarming happy chappy soul feelings which was beautiful x if you know me you also know about my obsession with taking photos and looking for particular angles and such lol but I also love taking photos of  old people and children and went a bit stalkerish both at jumah and during the trip in general but I think it resulted in some beautiful photos which I’m super proud of! does anyone else ever take a really cool photo and think it should be framed in a cafe or someones living room?! (its probably just me but still!)

We munched at this place (I’ll have to get the name from Iman), that do only about 3-4 items on the menu because a) it’s their speciality and b) they’re that good, but dang son. so worth it! In Sultanahmet, I want to say right across the Aksaray metro stop..?!! (I’ll find out and stick it in someplace lol it’ll be a lot easier!)

Also did a Bosphorus cruise which I’d recommend; gives you some beautiful views of the bridge and the Galata tower and the city from a distance! There are a number of boats parked by the water who offer tours and trips so super easy to find and do! Spend a lovely evening in Taksim where we witnessed Tunis beat Libya (go Tunis go!) Taksim at night is a beauty on its own full of people chilling out over a shisha or walking and just essentially having a good time, so definitely worth experiencing if you’re ever in town. The Grand Bazaar was epic! I absolutely love souks and bazaars and anything of the sort which allows you to haggle; I just think it’s proper form and generally expected in such an environment lol but found some lovely pieces of jewellery and earrings so yay! Someone had asked on instagram about what/if there was anything particular I purchase from each country and yes I do! always a magnet and a piece of jewellery (specifically a pair of earrings or a necklace!) I love love love ethnic bohemian jewellery that’s slightly representative of each country and the whole rustic look and vibe they give/add to me collection and wearings so that’s always a must! I’ve also started to pick up either a postcard or a print (painting or a picture) as well which then go on my wall or fridge!

Tourism has generally died down quite a bit in Istanbul compared to what it was due to recent attacks which I presume left people a bit frightened and hesitant to make the trip, but anything can happen anywhere in the world at any point and it’s just one of those things that’s truly out of your control and you’ve got to make a decision as to what extent you’re willing to risk your safety or travel plans etc. We never felt unsafe or uneasy walking about on our own and people were generally nice and helpful so teshakular Istanbul and I’m sure I’ll be back at some point in me life inshallah!

I truly hope you enjoy the photos as much as I do and as much as I loved taking them haha I’m really chuffed with meself in case you hadn’t gathered! Headed home in a few weeks inshallah so yay for seeing mama! Hope all is well wherever you may be and you’re spreading smiles and love and holiday cheer to the world! xoxo

img_2732

img_2769

img_4519

img_4521

img_2859

img_2841

img_4522

img_2798

img_3215

img_3011

img_3521

img_4520

img_4524

img_4523

img_4788

img_4525

img_4733

img_4547img_4529

img_4777

img_4533

img_4548

img_4537

img_4528

img_4536

img_4538

img_4540

img_4541

fullsizeoutput_3b06