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Benalla Travel | MODERN ISTANBUL
An independently-owned, award winning travel management company that offers professional advice, expertise and highly personalised service for savvy leisure and corporate travellers. Based in Benalla, North East Victoria.
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STAY at the Witt Istanbul Suites; this 17 room luxury boutique hotel is diminutive, discreet and designer without being garishly so. It all makes for the perfect pied-a-terre in the vibrant Beyoğlu neighbourhood, a great location. We liked the cool, friendly (nothing is a problem) service, the spacious rooms and the exclusive bespoke furniture by ‘Autoban’ Turkey’s top interior designers. We relaxed with drinks and breakfast in the hotel lounge which felt more like relaxing at home with friends. The secret is to keep up to date with local advise from Tuncel Toprak, the owner and manager of the Witt Istanbul Hotel with the online ‘Magazine Witt’, its this generosity of local knowledge that encaptures the soul of the hotel.

MEET Erk Erkaya and Umit Aggul, co-founders of Locally Istanbul they create tailor-made tours for you based on your interests, expectations, timing and mood. They are Istanbulites who would like to show you the different faces and lifestyles of their beloved city. We loved the Old City private tour, first visiting the historical sights; Hagia Sophia, The Basilica Cistern and Blue Mosque, finishing with the theatre of the Grand Bazaar. Watching the locals fish while walking across the Galata Bridge to the Bohemian Side of the vibrant Cihangir-Cukurcuma-Galata and Karakoy neighbourhoods. Here we discovered Turkish interior designers, fashion, antiques and art set among some of the cities best cafes, restaurants and music venues. Don’t forget to visit the Asian Side of the city if you are interested in local life, culture & food and a cruise down the Bosphorus when the weather is favourable. Simply tell Erk and Umit what you are interested in and you will definitely experience your Istanbul.

EAT in the Cihangir and neighbouring Galatasaray, Cukurcuma and Tophane area’s. We agree with Mr Yoprak description of ‘Istanbul as a melting pot of cultures, and all these influences pleasantly affected the food scene’. We love the cozy atmosphere and creative design of Lokanta Maya, not to mention its Mediterranean and Aegean fare modified daily and fine service. Make sure you book early to get into the new Yeni Lokanta, serving modern Anatolian/Turkish food by talented young chef-owner Civan Er. The wine list here features a good selection of Turkish labels, such as the excellent blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris by Arcadia, a Turkish boutique wine producer. One of the hotspots since it’s 2013 opening is Ferah Feza serving Modern & mostly Turkish fusion and all with a great view and atmosphere. An absolute must is a visit to Istanbul Modern, Turkey’s first private museum that collects and exhibits modern contemporary art and if not for the art then go for the food and view, just perfect for watching how all the ferries and boats navigate the Bosphorus. When you feel like eating in ask the Witt’s reception for a take-away menu from Miss Pizza, order the authentic wood oven baked pizza and great Turkish meze which they happily deliver to your suite.

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