The pool at Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus is, well, jolly nice, and thoroughly appreciated by visitors to Istanbul, especially those who spend a couple of days first at the sibling luxury hotel, Four Seasons Sultanhamet, so they can be tourists in the Old Town. Then they come on here, to relax, and presumably luxuriate in the spa and its three hammams. There are two pools, a full-size indoor pool bordered with living bamboo, and this outdoor one. It has a large adjacent terrace, with an elegant marble staircase, and not surprisingly is a highly popular wedding venue: Leonardo Baiocchi, who runs both these hotels, told the gal that Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus had hosted three big Iranian weddings in the last six months.
Leonardo Baiocchi is a character, and a big joker. He grabbed my Porsche Rimowa on arrival and insisted on bellboying me all the way to my room – he then forgot to give me the key and joked that he does not do bellboy very often. He left me in this gigantic space, the Atik Pasha Suite, which goes on and on through some 3,800 sq ft total. To be quite honest I found one bedroom, and an office, and a dining room for ten, and gave up. I decided to look at details, like giant Bang & Olufsens deliberately not set in front of windows so you can have an uninterrupted view across the Bosphorus. I admired some stunning modern Turkish art and wished I knew more – the 14th Istanbul Biennial is on now, running until November 1st, 2015 (it is curated by Bulgarian-Italian promoter Carolyn Christov-Bakarglev, who works in the USA with the Cooper Union and with Harvard).
I notice the Vakko bed-linens today have delicate blue embroidered edging: tomorrow there will be another colour as the seven colours rotate. Mr B also, apparently, recently rotated exterior lighting of the hotel, changing it to match the sari of a VII (Very Important Indian). Life must be fun, this is lifestyle, he says. He also believes in giving, to get back in the form of guest satisfaction and repeat business, at a lovely high rate. In the main lobby, for instance, are cut-glass containers of nuts. Help yourself, any time. When he arrived he lived in the hotel for six months and found its private dining menu so monotonous he changed it, creatively. He has, for instance, added a separate pizza menu, 12 different wood-fired pizza types, delivered in a card box. Now he is working on doing room service buffets.
Others joke back to him. When he was staying at Four Seasons Milan he knew his own chef wanted him to bring back ‘some cheese, and a pepper mill‘. What his chef had not told him was that being delivered to his room in Milan would be a whole Parmesan, weighing about 90 lbs, and what is surely the world’s biggest Peugeot pepper mill. And no, dear reader, our intrepid and passionate hotelier did not bring’em back, he sent them via DHL. The cheese has long since disappeared into happy guests’ tummies but the pepper mill remains, yet another reason to smile when at this waterside luxury hotel – especially when dining right next to the Bosphorus and its continuous criss-cross armada of every size of waterborne craft.