Chronological / Destinations / Europe

Instanbul’s Pera Palace Hotel

From the marble-pillared lobby of Istanbul’s legendary Pera Palace Hotel, you might catch a glimpse of a slight figure emerging from the wrought-iron "bird cage" elevator. Could it be the ghost of Agatha Christie? Mata Hari?
Or could that tall, haughty woman who slipped past be Greta Garbo?

Shades of the famous authors, spies, actresses, kings and queens who have stayed at the Pera Palace linger on, and the old hotel’s belle époque ambience piques your imagination.

In the Orient Express Bar off the lobby, Cicero, the notorious British spy is known to have made clandestine deals. You half-expect a king or two, or at least a prince to wander up and flirt with you. After ordering drinks, you watch with shaded eyes through a palm frond.

Built in 1892 to provide superior lodging for passengers of the Orient Express, the hotel is rightfully called a palace with public rooms featuring 20-foot ceilings, marble-and-onyx walls and pillars, crystal chandeliers, oversized Turkish carpets, inlaid mother-of-pearl cabinets, hand-carved furniture, and fixtures of brass and ebony.

Kings, queens, shahs and royalty from Japan to Hollywood have been frequent guests; and a brass plate on many of the doors remember them. Mustafa Kemal, known as "Ataturk," the father of modern Turkey, kept rooms here, and his suite is now a small museum filled with photos and mementos.

Another small suite is devoted to Agatha Christie, who wrote "Murder on the Orient Express" there. The rooms are filled with photos, copies of her books, and other memorabilia.

The Pera Palace is a five-star hotel with 144 rooms and six suites. I stayed in a room once occupied by glamorous screen-legend Marilyn Monroe, and found "her" huge, queen-sized bed to be fluffy, elegant and draped in exquisite fabrics… a lot like I imagine Marilyn was.


Pera Palace Hotel (known locally as Pera Palas)
Istanbul, Turkey
Tel: +90 212 243 0737
Fax: +90 212 252 4631

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