by Karen Day
As the home to Istanbul Modern, numerous small galleries, dozens of hip cafes and Kılıç Ali PaŞa Hamamı—a stunning Turkish bathhouse designed by the legendary Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan—Karaköy is undoubtedly Istanbul’s hippest neighborhood. But like most creative urban pockets, this desirable hotspot has started to reach max capacity; what was once the antidote to Taksim and Sultanahmet squares now feels a little like its own tourist version of artsy Istanbul.
Searching for a calmer but equally interesting area, we stumbled upon Beşiktaş. This historically wealthy neighborhood running along the Bosphorous is where several sultans kept palatial private residences and is one of the oldest districts on the European side of Istanbul. We strolled along Süleyman Seba Caddesi and found several places that speak to a discerning traveler.
Minoa Bookstore & Cafe
With its MC Escher-inspired floor tiles and rows of wooden bookshelves that reach from there to the ceiling, Minoa is immediately eye-catching. Add to that a charming, laptop-friendly cafe serving fantastic food, coffee and teas on a leafy patio space and you might find yourself sitting here for quite some time. The range of books includes a large English-language section, and is geared toward the intelligent consumer across all genres—from coffee table to Nobel Prize-winning novels.
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Walk up Süleyman Seba from Minoa and you’ll find Slow Public, a spacious new design shop dedicated to Turkey’s contemporary artisans. A few highlights include handmade ceramics by Birce Mete of 1 ce, meticulously crafted copper wares from SOY (including the covetable Turkish cezve for coffee), Giano Chocolate and curiously stylish wooden purses Haydanhuya. They also exclusively carry scarves made in Gaziantep (a city in eastern Turkey) from a fabric called Kutnu, an authentic, traditional Turkish fabric that is woven with silk warps and cotton wefts. All of the information about the makers is written in Turkish, but don’t be shy: co-founder Ege Soley Sürücü is on-hand, speaks English and is happy to tell you more.
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Take a break at Blended, Beşiktaş’ tranquil little fresh juice bar just around the corner from Slow Public. Blended carefully sources its fruits and vegetables from local producers and takes a scientific approach to preparing their “plant food” beverages and a philosophical reason for doing so, quoting Hippocrates famous statement: “All diseases begin in the gut.” Their fibrous green drinks are numbered one to five, stressing the importance of keeping up a detox regime throughout the work week.
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From her shop/studio space next door to Blended, illustrator and sculptor Melis Kolyozyan combines her two talents to create whimsical home goods and wall art under the name Happy Ceramics. Tall vases are painted as adorable little characters and when you fill them with a bunch of flowers or balls of yarn different personalities emerge. In addition to sculpting functional ceramics, Kolyozyan also works as a fine artist and shows in group and solo exhibitions around France and her native Turkey.
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To celebrate their Round The World offering Star Alliance partnered with Marriott TRAVELER to offer Cool Hunting Editor-at-Large Karen Day her dream trip. She chose to explore locations she’d visit on a professional gap year, taking a break from the grind of NYC to explore places that inspire the creative spirit.
Images by Karen Day