A new car smell. It’s the first thing I notice when I walk into my suite at St. Regis Istanbul. The intangible, leathery scent of a new car. Not just any old car, mind you. One of the finest automobiles to grace the road and one preferred by, well, one: Queen Elizabeth.
Surrounded by the boutiques of Chanel, Tom Ford and Lanvin in the well-heeled Nişantaşi – a neighbourhood often compared to New York’s Fifth Avenue – the St. Regis Istanbul is a fitting location for a Bentley-themed suite. Gorgeously designed by Emre Arolat, the hotel emulates the glamour of the 1920s art-deco era with sleek interiors and a sizeable private art collection.
A colossal sculpture by British artist Tony Cragg flanks the entrance; works by Botero and Warhol are among the paintings adorning the walls, and on my way to the suite, I pass a sculpture by Turkish artist Seyhun Topuz placed outside the lift landing area.
Situated in a fourth-floor corner of the hotel, the suite has floor-to-ceiling windows and a wrap-around balcony overlooking Maçka Park and the Bosphorus. Inspired by the marque’s Continental GT model, all the tactile pleasures found in the car are reimagined in the furnishings, from the curved walls in Bentley’s smoked fiddleback eucalyptus veneer, to the seat belt trim on the drapes. A quick snoop in the bar cabinet reveals a Bentley humidor (made in Crewe at the Bentley woodshop) and Breitling clocks, which keep time across Istanbul, London and New York.
And it doesn’t end there. In the sitting room, the lounge is stitched with Bentley’s diamond upholstery, while a backgammon set, crafted from Bentley’s Bird’s Eye maple veneer and porpoise and linen hide, is within arm’s reach. On the ceiling, there’s a light installation based on the Continental’s headlights illuminating the contours of the Nürburgring racetrack. There’s even some Bentley beneath my feet, in the abstract form of a wool and silk rug patterned with the iconic matrix grill.
The car’s commensurate tech-specs found in the adjoining bedroom include a Naim Audio sound system, drapes that open at the touch of a button, and a bed base from which a television emerges. The Bentley design dwindles somewhat in the bathroom, but there’s nothing down-at-heel about the black Carrara marble, free-standing tub or Remedie amenities.
Along with the subtle design references, auto enthusiasts won’t be able to resist the Bentley paraphernalia scattered around the room, from model cars and a chrome statue of the flying B mascot to Bentley magazines and handbooks. I have a quick thumb through Bentley: A Motoring Miscellany – A Random Reference For The Modern Enthusiast over a Turkish coffee, which is ferried to my suite by my butler on a silver platter lined with dainty pieces of lokum (Turkish delight) and baklava.
Despite Nişantaşi’s boutiques and nightlife on the doorstep, there’s plenty to tempt within the hotel, which serves up contemporary facilities like Iridium spa, a modern gym and Spago restaurant by Wolfgang Puck, with the classic hospitality St. Regis is renowned for – right down to the famed champagne sabering ritual started by John Jacob Astor IV, the founder of the original St. Regis Hotel in New York City.
I’m lucky enough to have timed my stay with the Wednesday night ritual, which draws guests to the lobby where hotel’s general manager, Ruis Reis, is tasked with the sabering honours. I stay a while, mingling with staff over drinks and canapés, before dining at Spago with a fashionable crowd. Later that night, I return to my suite, where my butler has thoughtfully placed a bottle of Veuve Cliquot into the Mulsanne champagne cooler embedded into the lounge. It’s a fitting bubbly finale to a Bentley-fuelled stay.
Source: MICHELLE WRANIK-HICKS