If it seems like Soho House’s goal is world domination, you may just be right. The private club turned hotelier has an outpost in Istanbul, which is a good idea. Located in the former U.S. embassy, Soho House is the center of all the action in the Pera neighborhood. In a tough field of hotel competition, this is how it measures up.
There are some hotels that are destined to be legend. Soho House Istanbul is in the former home of a Genoese merchant, close to the Palazzo Corpi in the Pera neighborhood. This district is known as the Istanbul version of New York’s Soho, and is one of the liveliest areas for bars and restaurants each evening. The hotel and private club was most recently the U.S. Embassy, which happens to still own the building. So you know, if it was an embassy, it’s pretty prime real estate. In the Soho House rendition, the refurb fully respects the original architecture of the building. It’s in the furniture and unique design elements that the Soho House DNA comes through. This may just be one of the most beautiful Soho Houses in the whole portfolio.
The Soho House is not a hotel for tourists with fanny packs, unless yours is Chanel. There’s a reason that there are over 25,000 people in line for a Soho House membership. The clientele and hotel guests reflect the effortless cool and chic that sum up Soho House. The Soho House Istanbul crowd is one of the more diverse of the Soho Houses. You’ll have 20-somethings dancing to the hottest DJs on the rooftop into the wee hours. But also, some of the grey-hair media types will be catching up over drinks and dinner.
I love everything about the Soho House common-space experiences. But I’m not always a fan of the rooms. Sometimes they feel a little industrial and barebones. I prefer a plusher, lighter room decor. However, Soho House Istanbul hits all the right notes. Rooms are all pretty unique, given the historic footprint of the building. But they feel elegant, fresh and open. I had a room that was in the new annex of the building, with a lofted second-floor bedroom. Ceilings have elegant, intricate molding that combines well with the signature Soho Home’s slightly-masculine-yet feminine design. The housekeeping was spotless enough for me to walk around barefoot, which doesn’t happen often.
One of the best parts of Soho House Istanbul for me was the service. Although I’m “Soho Friend” rather than a full member — I’m in it fully for the hotel rooms — I was immediately welcomed into the fold. Sometimes at these trendy hotels, you worry about whether you can depend upon staff for airport pickups, VIP service, and other critical logistics. This was definitely not the case at Soho House Istanbul. The team was on it from the start, and highly responsive to emails. Everything went smoothly from start to finish, and above all, the service was warm and sincere.
Dining and Common Areas
Like many of the Soho Houses, non-members get a glimpse of the hype at the open-to-the-public restaurant Cecconi’s. This location is exceptionally beautiful, with a large open courtyard that feels like a greenhouse, and cozy indoor tables. This may be my favorite Cecconi’s of the whole bunch I’ve been to; it’s design, decor, and food at its best. As you enter the hotel area, the area is like a secret garden, with tables to sit at all day and catch up with friends. It’s prime during the spring, summer, and fall months.
If you’re not a member or hotel guest, you’re sadly missing out. The members club is in a separate building of the former embassy. If there’s a more beautiful Soho House club around the world, I have yet to visit it. What I like so much about the building is that the historic facade and many of the original ceilings and staircases were preserved during the extensive renovation. The ground floor has that vintage clubhouse feel of Soho House, with a large bar, outdoor seating, and cozy lounges. You’ll find creatives meeting over avocado toast. and people working from “home” in the various nook and crannies.
The showstoppers are of course the rooftops, which are core to any Soho House. One area has a Greek restaurant, where the people-watching is excellent. There’s also an upper rooftop. During good weather you’ll find a visiting DJ…and the younger crowd dancing until the early morning hours.
Spa and Gym
We’ve covered the Mandarin Oriental, Ciragan Palace, and Six Senses, and as far as spas go, the Soho House’s Cowshed punches in this weight class. True, the facilities are tiny compared to the larger hotels, but the quality of service is equal. Cowshed is known to hire the best therapists and aestheticians, and they put you into an utter state of bliss. At this location, the crew offers massages, facials, and manicures and pedicures. So, essentially all you need to regroup during a trip. A must is the hammam treatment, where you’re scrubbed cleaner than you thought possible. But the best part are the pillowcases that the staff fill with clouds of suds. I’ve done the hammam at all of the larger hotels above, and this was maybe the top.
Also of note is the gym. There’s a reason why the average Soho House member and guest is exceptionally attractive. This location also has a boxing ring, for those who want to up the workouts.
I loved my stay here. Soho House Istanbul is for the individual who is a world traveler. Stay here if this is not your first rodeo in Istanbul and you want more of a chic, local, upper-end of the Istanbul food-chain experience.
Q: Can anyone stay at the Soho House Istanbul?
A: Previously, the Soho House was open to all hotel guests. However, in the past few years it changed to members only. The owners recently opened the Soho House to a new tier of members, known as Soho Friends. As a Soho Friends member, you don’t have access to the Soho House, but you do get to make reservations at Soho House hotels around the world.
Q: Do you have access to the private club if you stay at the Soho House in Istanbul?
A: As a hotel guest, you get full access to all facilities at the Soho House, including the private club areas.
Q: Is Soho House Istanbul good for kids?
A: Yes, if your kids are cool. And older. If you need the full-scale, white-glove service, check out the Four Seasons Bosphorus.