The luxurious Pera Palace Hotel, the oldest European hotel in Istanbul, was built in the 19th century to host passengers traveling east on the famous Orient Express. Its rooms have housed such prominent figures as Ernest Hemingway, King Edward VII of England, Alfred Hitchcock, and Jackie Kennedy. Today, some rooms are preserved to look just as they did when they hosted these prestigious guests.
One very interesting example is Room 101, which was stayed in by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey. The room preserves the old furniture and decoration from Atatürk’s stay in 1917, and some of the president’s personal belongings. One of these is an old clock whose hands stopped ticking exactly at the moment of Atatürk’s death.
Room 411 is better known as the Agatha Christie room, and it is one of the most requested rooms at the hotel. The Queen of Crime stayed in this particular room several times between the years 1926 and 1932, reportedly while writing one of her most famous novels, Murder on the Orient Express. Several urban legends tell that during the 11 days when the writer went missing, she was here at the Pera Palace Hotel.
Located in Istanbul’s “Little Europe” district, Beyoğlu, the hotel’s exterior combines elements of art nouveau with oriental and neoclassical style. For many years, guests arriving in the city via the luxury passenger train would stay at this hotel, which is why both it and the train have the same symbol, a crest of golden lions. The historic elevator can still be seen inside the hotel, with its curious structure of wood and wrought iron and the unmistakable arrow that indicated the floors. In the grand lobby, you can admire other gems of yesteryear, like the old wooden telephone with two bells and an earphone, and the palanquin that used to transport people from the Sirkeci railway station, the eastern terminus of the Orient Express.
Know Before You Go
The hotel is located in 52, Meşrutiyet street in the district of Beyoğlu. The nearest tube station is Şişhane. The rooms of Ataturk and Agatha Christie can be freely visited on request of the hotel staff.
Room 101 is now the Ataturk Museum Room and is open to the public from 10:00 - 11:00 and from 15:00 to 16:00 daily.