Food & Wine Lifestyle Luxury Hotels Travel

A luxury hotel is when everything works, as at Mövenpick Istanbul

Sunrise from room 1908, Mövenpick Istanbul

Sunrise from room 1908, Mövenpick Istanbul

There are sunrises and sunrises and some of the most spectacular are at sea. When it comes to luxury hotels, think of the sunrise over Central Park in New York, over the harbour in Sydney, out to sea in the Indian Ocean, looking out at Machu Picchu when overnighting there, and so many more.

Well, believe it or not the gal travelled on, as you knew she would, and she has miraculously landed in Istanbul, via London, or at least Heathrow. (Big tip, the duty-free area at terminal five, Heathrow, now has a gift-packing and personalising service, so buy your Bobbi Brown or Ralph Lauren – a new display of that, by the way – and have it beautifully wrapped, with signage in gold lettering.)

White flowers, red strawberries

White flowers, red strawberries

Here, at the Mövenpick Istanbul, best things are not wrapped but easy to see, and use.  Now is the time for a lesson in practical luxury.  This is a very clever 249-room hotel that gets CEOs of top international companies (better not mention names for security reasons) staying here because the hotel works, and simply.  And in today’s busy world, that is luxury.

Let us take some examples.  Somehow they knew that the guest checking into room 1908 likes white flowers, not coloured.  They also knew that guest has a penchant for strawberries, and sure enough here are masses, all at perfect ripeness and jolly tasty.

A (small) section of the (copious) breakfast buffet

A (small) section of the (copious) breakfast buffet

The room works.  The light switches are proper flick switches; you never make a mistake.  The bathroom lighting would get ten out of ten if it only had a miracle element that takes ten off your look (years, and pounds, if not kilos).  You can see the difference between shampoo and shower gel because they are different colours.

To help you sleep, there is a dinkie little lavender spray to put dots on your pillow case.  Oh wow, not only is the WiFi instant, but the socket just above the desk takes both UK and US plugs.  And the desk chair is the right height for the desk. This is getting better and better.

GM Frank Reichenbach and Chef Giovanni Terracciano

They (GM Frank Reichenbach and Chef Giovanni Terracciano) even look alike

Would that all owners and, especially, interior designers read this entreaty.  Simplicity works.  But put elements of the surroundings.  Here, you especially know you are in Istanbul by the buffet dishes.

At breakfast, there are arrays of home-made Turkish breads, all carefully labelled. Of the 180 lovely staff running this hotel, by the way, all but two are Turkish, and those are the two shown here.

The boss-man, Frank Reichenbach, is Swiss, born of a French mother. The chef-man, the equally charming Giovanni Terracciano is, as anyone but a just-arrived Martian would instantly guess, Italian.  The coffee is Mövenpick’s own, M Fairtrade, in a mug signed by Your M Coffee Expert.

How the 'garden salad' looks in the private dining menu ...

How the ‘garden salad’ looks in the private dining menu …

After working out, and having a swim, and working at that right-height desk, I was ready to eat, yet again. One de-stressing tip for constant travel is to have room service lunches just before you leave.

You can clear up whatever business is not yet finished, do a bit of packing, wait for your meal, clear the safe and so on, and if you are short of time you can eat and work simultaneously.  Multi-skilling on the job.

The private dining menu here is a significant cream ring binder, which is personally introduced, with his photo, by Giovanni Terracciano.  This is a lovely touch, especially when the chef looks set for Hollywood rather than a Horror House.

.. and in reality

.. and in reality

And there are photos, full page photos, of some of the dishes.  A salad with local cheese is illustrated, along with a suggestion for wine pairing. I ordered it and, believe it or not, the dish that actually arrived looked EVEN better.  Now if that is not a sign of a luxury hotel, what is?