A concierge acts as the first point of contact between guests and the hotel. They are tasked with answering guest questions, making reservations, giving advice and clearly marking maps upside down. I’ve had my fair share of useless janitors giving each guest cookie-cutter advice. So when I find a passionate team that listens and creates a bespoke plan based on the collective breadth of their city information, I understand how valuable they are to both the property and guests. This column is dedicated to these stars of the industry.
I recently found such a star team behind the concierge desk.Four Seasons Hotel in Istanbul Sultanahmet.
I visited the recently renovated property with my husband in early September. Before a trip to Istanbul, which included visiting the main attractions close to the hotel, such as the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, I wanted an inside look at a neighborhood rarely visited by tourists.
An idea came to the mind of the young doorman at the table, Sabuhi Yavuzer. He asked me if I had ever visited the Anatolian side of Istanbul as a Kadıköy resident. The fifth largest city in the world in terms of population, Istanbul is spread over two continents divided by the Bosphorus: one half in Europe and the other in Asia.
The Kadıköy district, located on the shores of the Marmara Sea, and especially the Moda district, increased its popularity. Due to the relaxed atmosphere of Moda, it was flocked by young people. Considered artistically and socially freer (see multiple liquor establishments), or as Sabuhi described it diplomatically, he was careful to avoid taking a position on politics.
Sabuhi and his colleagues Alper Günalp, Asena Su Demir and their manager Derya Koçak gave ideas and instructions about the ferry. Sabuhi even provided her Whatsapp number so we could create the perfect itinerary while on the ground. In other words, the team went beyond desk duty.
To go to Kadıköy, take the tram at the Sultanahmet stop near the hotel, and then take the ferry at the Eminönü stop. The 20-minute ride makes frequent runs on the throat, a fun activity in itself. When we arrived in Kadıköy, we passed the busy streets full of restaurants that eventually merged with the Moda border. You’ll know when you get to Moda. Filled with coffee shops, bars and restaurants, this place is somewhat reminiscent of New York’s East Village.
Here’s a guide to the best spots to eat and drink here, thanks to the concierge team at the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet.
ForRestaurants and Cafes
Viktor Levi Winery
According to Sabuhi, it is considered the best “wine house” in Kadıköy. While walking around inside, the main attraction of this restaurant-cafe-bar, the big garden full of plants caught my eye. A mixed menu of Turkish and international dishes, from salads to appetizers and steak. Skip the house wine and order from the bottle list, which touches on parts of Turkey you’ll never find again.
“Ciya offers the kind of food that we grew up with,” Sabuhi said. Indeed, owner Musa Dağdeviren has been collecting traditional heritage recipes from all over the country for 25 years to serve three businesses in the same district, Kadıköy Bazaar. The menu, which changes frequently, is referred to as the “Anatolian cuisine laboratory”, the “ethnographic museum” and the “garden of lost cultures and forgotten tastes” as defined by The New Yorker.
Ground CafeA cozy interior with vintage wooden chairs and a small red shiplap bar add charm to this all-day breakfast-cocktail-bar café. Grab a breakfast of coffee and pastries, pop in for fresh salads for lunch, or drop by in the evening for Turkish comfort food, pastas and delicious drinks. Sister restaurant to yesterday’s popular, creative breakfast spot that is open all day.
Pleasure DinerLocated on Moda’s main street, Zevk Lokanta combines contemporary ideas with traditional regional dishes spanning Turkey, Greece and the Levantine. Pale walls and amber lighting give it a turn-of-the-century vibe, backed by candlelit tables and vintage fonts. Open and spacious, second-floor balcony seats offer a great view of the action.
monday fashionTurks love coffee, it’s a fact that you’ll approve of any street in just five minutes by walking. ut Moda hosts the best in the city, from design to coffee quality. Montag sums up the new or third wave coffee shop that is proliferating rapidly in the city. The glass façade of this convent/cafe is directly visible from Copenhagen.
Refined Espresso BarIf you prefer freshly baked goods with caffeine instead of pouring your espresso strained, Refine is for you. The company also roasts its own beans, which you can buy to take home to remind you of Istanbul’s coffee scene..
Bottom Coffee With an enchanting atmosphere against the backdrop of ivy-covered walls, Altkat offers high-quality espresso-based beverages and filtered coffees such as the single-origin V60 with washed African beans. Croissants, desserts and ice cream satisfy a sweet tooth.
Elephant Bistro FashionElephant Bistro looks like the kind of bustling, three-story bar you can find in Thailand, a suggestion in part implied by the elephant motif. A good beer list is complemented by cocktails and bar food, ranging from pizzas to appetizers.
Bear FashionAyi Moda stands out on a street full of bars, with few places to drink beer in the city and even fewer places to drink craft beer, far from finding an IPA (I’m just saying) made by a Turkish brewery. Mostly known for its music, it attracts a small crowd that pours into the street.
Mathilda’s Cocktail BarThe dark bar may seem ho-hum, but once the sun goes down you’ll quickly forget it and a gorgeous, creative cocktail will land in front of you. The staff are renowned for being fun and friendly, and willing to whip up a bespoke beverage with a little input from the guest.
StartExpect fresh, floral and fruity cocktails infused with tangy bright flavors from ginger to lemongrass and garnished with beautiful flowers. A two-level outdoor terrace provides pleasant people-watching.
for ice cream
Famous Ice Cream Shop Ali UstaWith nearly two dozen flavors to choose from (pistachio for the win), it may take a minute to decide – and cross the famous long line. After doing that, head down to the seaside park frequented by locals for 2 Euro Turkish tea with a cone and sea view.