Sunset over Istanbul - a breathtaking skyline
Istanbul is maybe the most fascinating and diverse European city, and the Pera Palace is its legendary, mysterious and wonderfully renovated hospitality landmark.
In its early years it was operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons Lits et des Grands Express Europeans, which wanted a hotel to accommodate passengers travelling from Paris to Istanbul on the Orient Express (more under “Legendary Stories”).
To the left you see two book covers. The top one takes you to the elegant and limited-edition leather bound version of the book, the lower one links you to the classic cloth bound version.
Pera Palas had the first electric elevator in Istanbul, with a lift boy in permanent attendance (left). Its generator powered several surrounding buildings as well as the hotel itself.
During World War I (1914-18), occupying Allied forces used the hotel as their headquarters. After the return of peace, it was at Pera Palas that the British gave the ‘key of Istanbul’ back to the Turk nationalist (and later president) Celal Bayar.
Since then, the hotel has accommodated a long succession of famous guests: political figures such as Kemal Atatuerk, Tito and Jacqueline Kennedy; crowned heads like King Edward VIII of England, King Carol of Romania and Shah Riza Pehlevi of Persia; big cultural names - Agatha Christie, for one, as well as the likes of Greta Garbo and Yehudi Menuhin.
In today’s world of sanitised air travel, where adventure has been all but drained completely from most intercontinental journeys, the Pera Palas Hotel represents a refreshing change. Retaining an old world magic, it stands as a reminder of a forgotten era: the age of famous trains, daring travellers and great voyages to the East. Located in the old European quarter of Pera, the hotel is a place of adventure, of romance, of intrigue.
No wonder Agatha Christie found it so inspiring.
Today you find all contemporary conveniences - a very pleasant, tranquil resort in a buzzing city, in walking or short taxi distance to all major sights.