When I first came to this city you could acquire yourself a scruffy but livable flat with an amazing Stamboul view for as little as $40,000 US in Galata. The neighborhood did not have an Eczacıbaşı guest house, it did not have nearly so many cafés or espresso corners, boutiques, or the well-to-do expats and visitors to fill them. Today, the old Genoese quarter of Pera is an altogether different experience. Eight years later, those same flats are something else entirely and have risen well beyond $1 million. Sometimes, I miss its older, more run down aspect, and the potential it had to invite dreams and dreamers to penetrate the layers of dust and imagine.
That was up until I had a chance to sample the fare with friends at Georges Galata, which was opened last October by Alex Varlık, a French lawyer (with a Turkish father) who has done a splendid job in the last few years bringing interesting new concepts to the Istanbul hotel scene. Georges hotel is one of the few places I’ve been that truly seems worthy of an Old City view — a skyline that, in my opinion, has no rival the world. When I first stayed in the city long term, this was my neighborhood. It’s probably the reason that I feel that strange possessiveness only someone who has inhabited an area can feel. This is where my love affair with the city started, up high on the terraces and the balconies, looking out over the Golden Horn, first tasting the strange mélange of aromas, hearing the cries of the street merchants, watching the wheeling gulls which seemed suspended on the shafts of light emanating from up-lit buildings. The Golden Horn is impressive during the day, but it’s in the twilight and nighttime hours that its golden flicker truly ignites.
Pera was once the European quarter of the city, and it makes no small degree of sense that a French-raised hotelier would choose this spot to introduce his very own boutique hotel. Unlike many places where they’ve spent plenty of money on the decor and then fall apart when it comes to the food and the service Georges’ menu and staff do not disappoint. This is the first time in a while that every course I ate was pitch perfect—from my sea bass tartar starter (pictured below) right the way to dessert. The menu is a little more expensive than in an everyday eatery like The House Cafe—but not significantly. Yet considering the superior quality and care with which the food was prepared, it’s certainly worth it. I look forward to sampling more of the cuisine at Georges during the sunset hours. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Serdar-I Ekrem Sokak No:24 Galata – Beyoğlu / Istanbul, Turkey
+90 212 244 24 23