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Most visitors to Istanbul make a beeline for the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia, but there’s so much more to see in this vast Turkish city – from the snaking Bosphorus to the buzzing bars of Besiktas. And the best way to experience all its diversity – whether you’re haggling in the souks, snacking on sesame-seeded simit bread or sipping strong black coffee in tiny cafes – is to live like a local. Stay in an airbnb-style holiday apartment and explore new corners of this old city as a resident. Here’s our pick of the best, bookable on Culture Trip.
On the one hand, this budget-friendly one-bedroom flat invites you to curl up with a good book – the huge blue-denim couch, sizeable library and warm exposed-brick walls create a homely vibe. On the other hand, however, it invites you to get out and explore Istanbul, with its floor-to-ceiling glass doors framing a picture-perfect view of Beyoğlu, the Golden Horn and the historical peninsula beyond. The kitchen is as eye-catching as it is functional. Traditional Turkish tiles line the floor and walls while the breakfast stools and bench-top bar are a smart use of space. The bedroom also boasts killer views outside.
Hugging the southern shores of the Beyoğlu district, Karaköy is Istanbul’s hottest postcode, with a wave of hip boutiques, galleries, cafes and bars washing over the historic port. This airbnb exemplifies the neighbourhood’s modern transformation, giving a ramshackle old boarding house for sailors a very contemporary facelift. Retaining the block’s original brickwork, beamed roof and sunny arched windows, this loft apartment has room for four guests in its two double beds. There is also a rooftop patio with vistas to Asia and Sultanahmet.
Welcome to a high-ceilinged haven in the heart of historic Galata, only steps from the medieval tower for which this part of Beyoğlu is famous. The painted brick walls and raw plank wood flooring give this one-bedroom loft an urban inner-city feel. The living room’s fireplace and library, modern marble bathrooms, brand-new kitchen and snug dining room all help guests feel at home. The open-plan layout is brightened up with pops of colour and cutting-edge contemporary artworks, which suits the vibe of this cool corner of Istanbul.
Tom Smith contributed additional reporting to this article.