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Ibrahim Pasha—a boutique hotel in Istanbul

There is something reassuring about arriving at an unfamiliar hotel in an exotic city, in a strange country, in the middle of the night and being greeted by Godot. This Godot is a mature yellow Labrador whose master happens to own the very stylish small hotel Ibrahim Pasha smack dab in the center of the Sultanahmet. (And this Godot is the reincarnation of a Labrador my partner and I loved for 13 years and lost.) We, for sure are in the right place. Our instincts are confirmed as we emerge the next morning for the included breakfast, an activity which we normally dread or skip. This one is different: a heavy rustic table looking like something from a Caravaggio still life is piled with apricots, grains, flat breads, honey and pitchers of goat’s milk yogurt. Unobtrusive and gentle waiters pour fresh juice and the strongest, thickest black coffee on earth as they shoo Godot from the breakfast salon.

Elegant, unpretentious, relaxed and smart—words that should always describe any hotel, right? Owner Mehmet Umur cleverly joined two 100-year-old Turkish townhouses on a quiet, shadowy street to create Ibrahim Pasha. The details and design are authentic and modern. The restrained decoration is sophisticated but accessible, with just enough Ottoman flourishes to remind you where you are. And a very gracious, informed staff is always around. Another reason this place works so well is that its serene cool contrasts so abruptly with the city right outside. A city of Technicolor sites, a scramble of noises, shimmering seas and rivers that converge from all directions. A city of blinding brights, darkest darks, relentless invitations to have tea from the rug merchants and a bit of danger and intrigue. And five times a day the call to prayers never lets you forget where you are. The hotel is a welcome retreat for a glass of wine and some rest, before the temptations of Istanbul and its clashing cultures compel you to wander the neighborhood some more.

Design takeaway :

A restrained, sincere design aesthetic and a feeling of calmness prevail at Ibrahim Pasha.

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