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Situated in the Genoese (later European) Quarter in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district, the area contains a number of notable edifices. Soho House fills one of them; the 19th-century Palazzo Corpi, former home of powerful Genoese shipbuilder Ignazio Corpi and once the location of the US Embassy.
Travelling to Istanbul as part of Cities Without Houses – a new type of membership opening up the Soho House community to people who live in cities that don’t yet have a club – was an impassable opportunity. A Soho House sleepover in the former Constantinople is as enchanting (and perhaps elitist) as its sounds. Connecting with other House members (predominantly Parisians) on this particular trip made for a raucous weekend of debauchery, some 7AM cardio and a little education.
Over the course of a weekend, which included a morning row down the Golden Horn, an illuminating luncheon with interior decorator Serdar Gülgün and a boozy boat cruise on the Bosphorus, we ate, drank, napped, worked and played – just as we would at home (if home were a hedonic and hauntingly beautiful 19th-century palazzo).
Adjacent to the clubhouse, bedrooms are located in the glass building and annex. Ranging from “tiny” to “the playroom”, 87 rooms include 17 mezzanine rooms and one apartment. With distinctive Ottoman influences, each is fitted with sumptuous headboards, oversized beds and carved armoires. The bathrooms are equally impressive, dominated by Carrera marble flooring and colourful tiles.
Located in the glass building, The Allis serves a simple menu of light breakfast options for hotel guests. At the weekend, choose from the buffet but Monday through Friday it’s a la carte – we’d order the granola and baked eggs all day errr’day if we could. Open to public with outdoor seating available, it’s a great spot for a quick bite or a working coffee, while they also offer mezze lunch and afternoon tea.
How about lunch and dinner?
Hedged in the courtyard between the glass building and the club house you’ll find good old Cecconi’s. Serving a mix of handmade pasta, cicchetti and dishes from northern Italy, the setup is modern romanticism – which we’re defining as the perfect ratio of olive trees clad in fairy lights and whitewashed furniture to punchy flavours and graphic interiors. Visit on Sunday for FEAST – a brunch buffet that will help you work out your hangover cravings one pizza slice, cake serving and cheeseboard at a time.
For dinner, the first-floor terrace’s new restaurant, Naavah, is our favourite spot. Serving an evening menu inspired by the flavours and spices of the Middle East with a local twist, the restaurant originated at Soho House West Hollywood and channels a distinctly LA vibe. Dine at sunset under an overhang clad with Edison bulbs as the sky turns an effusive pink.
Is there a bar?
The Embassy Club is a great late-night bar on the second floor – DJs mix most Fridays and Saturdays and live music sets are a mainstay. For something a little less committal, the ground floor club bar is a pleasant spot for cocktails while reclining in a velveteen shell-shaped armchair. With wall paintings depicting Greek mythological scenes, it’s one of those “just one more drink” places.
Within a short distance you’ll find…
The Pera Palace Hotel is one door up from Soho House Istanbul and certainly worth a look-in. The hotel was the project of Georges Nagelmackers, the Belgian entrepreneur who linked Paris and Constantinople with the Orient Express. Its guests have included Agatha Christie, who supposedly wrote Murder on the Orient Express in room 411.
For those in search of shopping away from the Grand Bazaar, Istiklal Avenue (Istanbul’s main shopping street) is a short walk away. Pick up boxes of Turkish delight, order some hot clams street side and take in the percussive sounds of ice-cream scoopers as their long-handle ladles knock against the edges of the drum.
Things you should know
If you’ve got emails to catch up on, the Club Games Room is a handy workspace by day (and a ping-pong room at night). There’s also a gym fully equipped with free weights, resistance and cardio machines, as well as a boxing ring and studio spaces hosting classes from pilates and yoga to circuits. If you’re in need of TLC, the club’s male and female steam rooms and saunas will help you unwind post flight, then choose a spa treatment at Cowshed Relax or pop by one of six mani-pedi stations. For the men, try a Turkish shave from Neville grooming.
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