As Istanbul became more accessible due to the 19th century developments of transportation, the capital to three ancient empires began to reveal its mysterious identity to the world. First, humble board and lodgings opened up for visitors coming to Istanbul to see the springtime pink-purple Judas trees on the slopes of the Bosphorus, the works of world famous Ottoman architect Sinan and the narrow, stone paved streets where over 40 different languages were spoken.
When the worldwide famous Orient Express chose Istanbul as its last stop in the East, Istanbul began to attract not only adventurers, but also the more elite and noble classes of Europe. Unfortunately, there were yet no hotels in the city to meet the high standards of the Orient Express passengers.
Soon, the Pera Palace Hotel in Tepebaşı, which was founded in 1892 and celebrated with its grand opening ball in 1895, was able to fill this gap. Istanbul resident and Levantine architect Alexander Vallaury designed the hotel in neo-classical, art nouveau and oriental styles, giving Pera Palace its timeless, refined look.
Pera Palace Hotel was home to many firsts. Apart from the Ottoman Palaces, it was the first building to have electricity as well as the first electric elevator. British writer Daniel Farson described the elevator in these words: “It is the most beautiful elevator in the world made of cast iron and wood… It ascends like a lady who curtsies. Tourists cannot take their eyes off this utterly pretty and aristocrat elevator.” Bathrooms that provided the only running hot water in the city were also privileges exclusive to Pera Palace Hotel guests. Tall spacious rooms lit by magnificent chandeliers were host to many unforgettable tea and dance parties.
Since 1895, Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah, Istanbul hosted many iconic guests such as the founder of modern day Turkey; Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Celebrated author, Agatha Christie was a guest at Pera Palace Hotel from 1926 to 1932 and was reputed to have written her most famous work “Murder on the Orient Express” whilst staying in Room 411.The mysteries surrounding Christie’s lost diary are reportedly pinned on discovery of a key in the same room. Enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the extensive collection of Agatha Christie novels, written in different languages whilst relaxing in the elegant surroundings.
Along with politicians, artists and writers, kings, queens and heads of state have also strolled along the halls of Pera Palace Hotel, Jumeirah. King Edward VIII, Queen Elizabeth II, Emperor Franz Joseph as well as Sarah Bernhardt, Alfred Hitchcock, Pierre Loti and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis have all been guests.
As testimony to the hotel’s en vogue reputation, the first fashion show in Istanbul was held at the hotel in 1926.