YOUNG TURKS CLUB
If you haven’t heard of Soho House Istanbul, that’s precisely what the company wants to hear. The private members club, founded as a place of comfort for a community of creative types, prides itself, like all good clubs, on selectivity and exclusivity. When presenting myself for an interview with manager Umut Sengun, a receptionist looked me up and down and said that only “cool people” would be admitted.
Luckily, Sengun soon rescued me from this scrutiny and whisked me past the velvet rope.
Until very recently, the company’s houses have been located solely in the West; there are six in the UK, four in the US and one in Berlin. With their newest property in Istanbul – the city where two continents collide – it seems the Soho House brand is expanding its geographical focus.
Location is the primary concern of the Soho House group and each building is carefully selected, explains Sengun. The Corpi Building of Soho House Istanbul, the former American Embassy in Istanbul, is nothing short of majestic. Constructed in the late 19th century by a Genovese shipbroker in Istanbul’s Italianate Beyoğlu district, the building emulates the style of a Venetian palazzo with a white marble, neoclassical facade and Corinthian pilasters. Spacious, high-ceilinged rooms complete with original wall and ceiling frescoes, parquet flooring and marble stairways create a palatial feel.
This attention to detail is apparent in each of the club’s rooms. The furniture and design of the interior, despite its Turkish-Venetian setting, is in keeping with the aesthetic of the international Soho House style, retaining an identity that gives members a sense of familiarity, whether they’re in Berlin or on Sunset Boulevard. Chesterfield sofas and long, marked rectangular meeting tables, available in the evenings for a game of ping pong, are a Soho House hallmark. However, Sengun stresses the efforts of the team to imbue the property with a particular sense of place. Custom furniture made by the international design team sits alongside locally sourced pieces while curator Francesca Gavin handpicked over 350 artworks for this house, including the work of 90 Turkish artists.
At the top of the first broad marble stairway is the primary drawing room, dominated by ‘60s Italian chandeliers and formal dining rooms. Up a second flight of stairs is the main bar. High-backed, oxblood bar stools sit in front of the deep blue, marble-topped bar in a room of worn frescoes and striking original wooden floors adorned with an eight-pointed star motif. Past the chefs is the Mandolin Terrace, a restaurant offering up Aegean food accompanied by breathtaking views over the old city and up the Golden Horn. One more set of stairs brings guests to another Soho House signature: the rooftop pool.
While not as expansive as those at the brand’s other boltholes, the “cocktail pool,” as Sengun describes it, is just big enough to cool off from the hot Turkish sun with one of the bar’s signature cocktails, a ginger and rum concoction garnished with homemade candied ginger. Cheerful yellow-and-white striped beach towels cover the reclining beds as a waiter waits to deliver a cool glass of water (or another cocktail).
Happily, Soho House Istanbul diverges from its parent company in one important way: non-members have access to all its amenities with a room booking. Just remember to wear clothes that claim your right to be there.
Evliya Celebi Mahallesi Meşrutiyet, tel. 90.212.377.7100,