Turkish Delights: An Insider Guide to Istanbul with Bee Goddess's Ece Sirin
15 May, 2019
Jewellery designer Ece Sirin creates statement pieces inspired by talismanic symbols. Here, the Istanbul-native tells us about her line, her favourite city haunts and the coolest neighbourhood to explore.
My first introduction to Ece Sirin was by way of a signet ring. I was at Soho House Istanbul at the time and across the table a small, glittering eye peered back at me from the outer stretches of its wearer's hand. "Who is your ring by?" I demanded all too emphatically. "Ece Sirin", answered my wary seat partner.
Ece is an archetypal Istanbulite with an appetite for symbols. With a seemingly infinite knowledge of her city - where to go when and why we should be there in the first place - she let us raid her address book (and jewellery drawer) before setting out to explore.
Here she shares her tips on where to find the perfect Turkish breakfast, points out key shopping spots and shares her choice of one book to read before you go.
The best time to plan a trip to Istanbul is…
Spring and autumn.
What's the best way to explore the city?
Walking with a local friend. Taking a boat trip on the Bosporus is also a good option.
Bebek for jet-setting; Galata and Çukurcuma neighbourhoods for design and antique hunting; Fener and Balat for scouting out old houses and churches; Beyoglu for art galleries.
Your go-to hotel…
Hotel Les Ottomans, Sumahan on the Water, Pera Palace Hotel and Splendid Palace Hotel in Buyukada.
Where's good for lunch?
Amanda Bravo, Mürver Restaurant, Neolokal, Alaf Kuruçeşme, Zorlu's Morini Restaurant and Sanayi 313.
And for a late dinner?
Bebek Balikçi, Mikla Restaurant, Sunset Grill & Bar and Wolfgang Puck's Spago in the St Regis Istanbul.
Other food spots to try…
Bi Nevi Deli or Gabfoods for vegan and healthy food.
Where should we go for a big night out?
Klein, Nardis Jazz Club, Ulus 29, Must Nişantaşi or Babylon Bomonti.
Where should we head post-party?
Gizli Kalsin and Lucca Bebek.
Where's good for a pre-bedtime tipple?
Şayan in Gayrettepe and Dürümcü Musa Usta.
One thing you can only do in Istanbul…
Making a long ferry trip on Bosporus with Asia on your right side and Europe on your left.
Where should we head on a Saturday morning?
Go to Belgrad Forest for a long walk and have a Turkish-style breakfast at Yeni Derya Café or take a traditional hammam ritual at Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam.
For Sunday brunch book a table at…
Çirağan Palace Kempinski or Perispri Fener.
Great day trips from the city include…
A visit to Buyukada, the biggest of Princes' Islands.
What's the city's dress code?
Modern and comfortable.
Key pieces to pack for a trip to Istanbul…
A raincoat and trainers.
The best spots for shopping…
Akmerkez and Zorlu Center malls for designer brands, Karaköy for local design shops, Bagdat Street for budget shopping and Ortaköy Square for authentic goods.
Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar.
One place only locals know about is…
Watching the fishermen from Galata Bridge with a nice view of the Old City - plus you can eat fish in bread served directly off the boats by the dockside.
A souvenir to bring back…
Turkish delight (the best is Divan) Turkish coffee (Selamlique is my favourite), a glass evil eye (these are stocked in Paşabahçe stores), Anatolian kilims and Bee Goddess jewellery.
One misconception about Istanbul is…
That it's purely an Arab city. In fact, it's one of the world's greatest cultural crossroads close to European culture.
Underrated spots worth a visit…
Basilica Cistern and The Süleymaniye Mosque.
A book to read before we go?
Istanbul: Memories and The City by Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature.