How I ended up jumping in the sea at 3am with Istanbul’s glitterati

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  • You’ve been everywhere - Ibiza, Mykonos, Miami, all the go to detox/retox destinations, but now you need to add a new location to the laid back luxury list, coastal town Bodrum

    Why go? It’s time to rediscover Turkey; like London, Istanbul has been under threat from terrorism (and continues to be) but the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is now advising that it’s fine to travel there, but to stay away from the Syrian boarder. Situated on the South East coast (opposite side to Syria FYI) Bodrum has an abundance of amazing hotels, beautiful beaches, spas to revive you, super cool rugs and cushions, incredible food, and the friendliest of people.

    When? Any time is good depending on how much heat you like. Temperatures are still in the mid to late 20 degrees until end of Oct, which is ideal for anyone wanting to avoid summer holiday crowds.

    You really must: Have a Turkish Bath. I mean you really, really must. Friends had recounted details but I wasn’t quite prepared for how much I would love this treatment. The Oriental Hammam Ritual at The Mandarin Oriental Bodrum (€175 for an hour) was such an indulgent experience; a full body scrub, being covered in warm foam, a massage from head to toe, followed by a hair wash in such a beautiful setting, it made me so happy I almost cried. A proper princess moment.

    Plunge pool at Mandarin Oriental

    If you’re wanting more of a body and mind overhaul Life Co is top of the A-list health kicks. A favourite of Kate Moss, this detox centre is a clinic/spa with treatments ranging from detox/cleansing, anti-aging to disease prevention and recovery.  There’s an emphasis on lifestyle change and taking a journey ‘You will be leaving our site with the solid knowledge of “how to live a healthy and happy lifestyle” which is going to be the most essential gain.’  Prices range from €235 to €650.

    A more sociable thing, and equally (if not more) incredible is chartering a yacht and crew to take you and your friends from the Caresse luxury resort and spa for lunch between the Greek and Turkish islands. Anchor down, jump off the back of the boat to swim in the gently swaying sea, maybe a lap or two before climbing back on board to lounge around on deck with a glass of champagne. The 30 degree sun will dry you off in time for the chef’s welcome announcement that lunch is served, it was complete and utter bliss. A day at sea on Miss B starts from €3,000.

    The very comfortable bow of Miss B

    Stay at: The Macakizi Hotel, Bodrum is everything; draped in bougainvillea, you walk into reception (which is kind of inside and outside at the same time), to be welcomed by beautiful rugs, huge photography books, an open and super chilled atmosphere with the warmth that comes from a family business. Named after the owner’s mother and original proprietor Sahir Erozan, Macakizi means Queen of Spades. She was a woman known for her bohemian lifestyle, hanging out with poets, musicians and artists, whose spirit infuses this luxe, beautiful location. Set in the hills with views over the glittering Aegean sea the beach club hosts the beautiful ones, with a super model here and actor over there, it’s a place to relax by day and party by night or indeed vice versa. Sahir Erozan has taken over from his mother and his previous experience running nightclubs in Washington brings another level of expertise in service – the staff are friendly and helpful yet only appear when you need them.

    Sea view room at Macakizi Hotel

    On our arrival night there was a wedding party taking place in the yet-to-be-discovered beach bar. Over dinner we could hear a gentle beat playing Grace Jones and Donna Summer. We had a little look over the balcony to see who was having this cool wedding in such a hip hotel. Within minutes we had been spotted and gestured to join them (they were friends of our host), we were handed some wedding cake and a glass of champagne and introduced to pretty much every guest including the Seda Domaniç, Editor-in-Chief of Turkish Vogue, Esra Üstünkaya, football club heiress and Dice Kayek. the designer of the beautiful wedding dress.  It turns out the wedding was Cina Oskay’s , Editor-in-Chief of one of Turkey major newspapers and his American fiance. It was so different to a British wedding; everyone dressed in white, no crazy hats or ‘wedding outfits’, very boho and understated. We danced, we met the parents, we avoided the picture taking drone, so when the whole wedding party decided to jump in the sea around 3am (maybe it was 4) , in a tradition one reveller offered, I looked at my friend, instinct took over and we jumped straight in, so warm, so fun, it was finally time for bed with my newly drowned iPhone.

    It feels more like a lifestyle than a hotel, it has fine dining, gym, spa and free roaming kittens (life goals raised after one stay).  Rooms start from £350 for the b&b

    Wedding at Macakizi Beach Club

    Dine at: Being dropped off by our yacht was a pretty outlandish entrance to Mimoza but I think maybe not that unusual amongst fellow diners. This beach side restaurant comes to life in the early evening; pretty gaud lanterns cover the ceiling as the sun sets over the sea. Menu’s perused, we started with a mezze of octopus salad, calamari, babaganoush, yogurt dip, chilli dip, garlic prawns, Turkish bread and huge tomato salad. I could have stopped right there but the main course was the freshest fish caught that morning, with potatoes, salad, green beans and more bread. The wine was great, the coffee essential, the view incredible, the ambience was relaxed and there were more adorable kittens, loved it!

    Mimoza Restaurant

    For something more central head to Bodrum Marina to Memedof fish restaurant, it’s a busy, buzzy location, serving traditional food. Who knew Turkish wine was so good? We ordered their finest white, chilled and crisp – a perfect start. Mezze is the way to go here so we ordered a selection to share – smoked anchovies, sea bass with artichokes, more calamari, charcoal grilled eggplant, black bean with yoghurt, olives with walnuts and Greek salad. The outside area is a great vantage point for people-watching, eating, drinking and gossiping!

    The Macakizi Hotel has a great restaurant so if staying there and feeling too content to move far from the sun deck, head up for breakfast/lunch/dinner for a varied menu and extensive wine list with a sommelier on hand for advice. It’s easy and wonderful and if you’re not a guest it’s most definitely worth booking a table.

    Turkish eggs at Macakizi Hotel

    Granola, fig, apricot, yoghurt and earl grey from breakfast bar at Macakizi Hotel

    Bring home…A kilim rug or cushion from Sayin Burku, with every colour and size in store. Prices vary from £100 upwards for a rug, and cushions are much cheaper. The owner of the shop is worth chatting to, with plenty of celebrity stories (photos included), plus how he produced the biggest woven rug in the world. He’s larger than life with the best interior shop in Bodrum, the room of antiques at the back of the shop is the cherry on top of the cake.

    There’s no website I’m afraid, they have a limited Facebook page and you can find various reviews online, but ultimately you just need to get down there. Address is Tepecik Mahallesi, Neyzen Tevfik Cd. No:34, 48400 Bodrum/Muğla, Turkey. Phone
    Phone: +90 252 316 45 71

    Book now: Fly with EasyJet direct from London Gatwick to TAV’s Bodrum-Milas airport. Transfer to Bodrum peninsular is approx. 45 mins.

    Also, will soon start operating some additional routes from the UK to Bodrum Airport in Summer 2018; Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle.

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