When I am away from Paris, the only food I miss is the kebab. I know this must sound odd as Paris is a culinary mecca, and French food is world renowned. That’s just the thing though, due to the worship of French haute cuisine, you can find just about anything “French” from a simple grocery store item, to a facsimile of a dish from one of your favorite restaurants or cafes when you’re in New York.
To my knowledge, there is no place in Manhattan that offers the simple, lousy kebab you can find at windows every few blocks in Paris. Baguette, lettuce, tomato, onion, sliced chicken or lamb off of a skewer, a choice of sauce and fries either on the sandwich or on the side.
Since I was going to the homeland of the Kebab (the proper kebab, not the bastardized european street food version), I figured it would behoove me to try a few out and look for a winner.
So, after my cab deposited me at the W Istanbul and they informed me that my room would not be ready for an hour, I trudged up the nearest street and decided to stop into the first kebab shop I could find.
My first kebab in Istanbul was not a winner. A poor imitation of French bread, a tiny sliver of meat and some sad looking veggies. Still, the endeavor managed to kill the time I had to waste and once my bill was paid, I went back to the W.
As I was checking in, a Lufthansa employee was on his way out with a bag full of Boeing 747-8i introduction promo materials, can’t wait to fly that one.
Surprisingly, my Starwood Gold Status was sufficient to warrant an upgrade, and a staff member brought me up to my room.
I was grateful for the upgrade, and it was a pretty stellar room. Large bed, seating area and a great bathroom.
After my bags were delivered, I closed the drapes and took a brief nap. I hadn’t slept much in Georgia, and the travel had taken it out of me. When I woke up, I went to the hotel gym, which was on the other side of the property from my room and required a transit through the lobby. The hotel said some author was having a book launch party in the hotel bar, but by the time I showered, I didn’t even have enough time to stop in for a drink and evaluate the bar.
My friend Y sent her driver for me, and he dropped me off at Sunset Grill & Bar where I joined Y for her friend’s birthday party.
Pros: Great location, nowhere in Istanbul can really be described as “convenient” since many points of interest are strewn about the city and no location can be close to everything, however it was a cool area. Amazing rooms, decent gym, good vibe. Seems like a good hotel choice for younger travelers.
Cons: I only stayed there for one night.
Verdict: I would absolutely stay at the W again. On previous trips to Istanbul I have stayed at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet and the Kempinski Ciragan Palace. While I enjoyed those hotels, I preferred the vibe at the W, and would be likely to choose it over either of them (unless the Kempinski refreshes their rooms). That being said, there are tons of new luxury hotel options in Istanbul, and I might be tempted to explore other properties before returning to the W. This is not the hotel for families or even necessarily for older couples looking for obsequious service, but for the younger traveler who wants to sightsee during the day and go out socially at night, it’s a winner.