Kitchenette Opens in the UK this November

Kitchenette in Putney
Kitchenette in Putney

After some delays, Turkish all-day restaurant cafe chain, Kitchenette, will open its first outpost in the UK on 18th November, 2013 (it was originally slated to open in September).

It’s no secret that I completely fell in love with Istanbul when I visited in 2009 and I have fond memories of spending some time in a couple of the Kitchenette outposts in the city, drinking coffee and eating cake, so its arrival in London has got me rather excited.

Kitchenette first launched in Turkey in 2005. The chain has expanded to boast 24 branches, not just in Turkey but also Baku (to read more of my tips on visiting, eating and drinking in Azerbaijan go here), Moscow and St Petersburg.

The London restaurant will open at 200-204 Putney Bridge SW15 2NA. Restaurant interiors have been designed by Michaelis Boyd. The 80-cover restaurant will feature lots of warm natural timbers and handmade tiles. In terms of food, you can expect good brasserie dishes, a few daily specials and excellent desserts in a really relaxed environment. It’s thought that the brand plans to expand quickly in London and potentially elsewhere in the UK.

Kitchenette is owned by TAG Restaurant Holdings which invested in Tom Aikens’ dining concept, Tom’s Kitchen. However, Square Meal reports (read more here) that the  Michelin-starred chef is likely to only play a very minor, executive chef role.

Kitchenette 200-204 Putney Bridge SW15 2NA

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Hilton Opens First Doubletree in Istanbul

Istanbul being one of our favourite destinations we were pleased to hear that Hilton has opened its first Doubletree property in the city where East meets West.  The 171-room hotel is located on Ordu Street, in the city’s old town and is the nearest hotel to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.  Facilities include, four function rooms, the largest holding up to 200 guests, as well as a 24-hour business centre, gym, and spa facilities including a whirlpool, sauna, Turkish bath and steam bath.  The hotel also offers two restaurants: The Terrace serving “a la carte international cuisine with traditional Turkish favourites”, and the casual dining Old Town, where breakfast is also served.

Doubletree Istanbul
A property in the Moda district of the city is also set to join the Doubletree brand later this year, with reservations being taken from 1st May 2011.

For more information visit

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Hot London to Istanbul Flight Offer From Pegasus

It is well noted that when I visited Istanbul I fell in love with the city, its culture, history, food and people.  To me there is no more magical city in the world.  While many may think the days of fabulous holiday offers are gone, you may be surprised by Pegasus Airlines’ latest deal. I think it is an offer you really should make the most of!

“Fly direct to Istanbul from London for just £49.99 including taxes and charges when you purchase your tickets between today, the 17th, and 24th of August for travel any time between now and the 30th of September 2010*. So hurry, book now on to see Istanbul for less!

*subject to availability”

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ISTANCOOL – Cultural Festival in Istanbul

This July Turkish Airlines in association with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism present Istancool – a cultural festival which is to take the city by storm. If you are travelling in the region, make sure you stop off in Istanbul between the 2nd and 4th of July to take in this vibrant city and its latest cultural offerings.

Istancool promises to be a mesmerising festival of art, design, fashion, literature, film, music and ideas. It will reflect an unique and innovative collaboration bringing together some of the most renowned British, Turkish and other international cultural icons. Istancool aims to stimulate and captivate audiences. The vision is to produce a spectacular festival that will feature a diverse, stimulating, high-quality and thought-provoking programme aimed at raising the profile of Istanbul as a forward-thinking world city. One of the festival’s goals is to complement Istanbul’s new position as the 2010 European Capital of Culture whilst creating a dynamic and independent brand that will contribute significantly to the city’s cultural calendar. The festival will further strengthen UK/Turkish cultural relations and aim to promote a positive image of Istanbul in the international media.

Istancool will enhance the reputation of Istanbul as a great cultural city and pay tribute to Turkey’s cultural heritage. It will present an ambitious and original programme which will aim to place Istanbul firmly at the centre of the international cultural scene in 2010. Istanbul continues to evolve and an event such as Istancool will serve to nurture the city’s cultural identity locally and on the world stage.

The programme will include exhibitions, performances, art installations, fashion showcase, talks, discussions, Q&As, film screenings and masterclasses. Guests will include leading actors, designers, musicians, directors, artists, authors and media figures such as Nobel Laureate Sir VS Naipaul, Philip Treacy, Zaha Hadid, Academy Award nominated director Lee Daniels, Taner Ceylan, Jefferson Hack, Gore Vidal, Terence Koh, Gareth Pugh, Lily Cole, Haluk Akakce, Academy Awardnominated musician Michael Nyman, Waris Ahluwalia, Elif Shafak, Academy Award nominated director Stephen Frears, Franca Sozzani, Alfred Dunhill creative director Kim Jones Serdar Gulgun, The Misshapes (Leigh Lezark and Geordon Nicol), Mike Figgis, Wallpaper editor in chief Tony Chambers, Daphne Guinness, Leyla Umar, Academy Award nominated screenwriter and author Hanif Kureishi among many others.

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Take a Walk in Istanbul

IstanbulI make no secret that the first time I visited Istanbul I was not anticipating to be particularly enamoured.  However, I was very wrong indeed and it is easily one of my favourite cities.  So when I came across this offer I couldn’t help but shout from the rooftops about it because I believe everyone can enjoy a little magic in this year’s European Capital of Culture.

The UK’s leading guided walking holidays’ operator, Ramblers Worldwide Holidays, is offering an 8 day tour of Istanbul.  Sightseeing, mostly on foot, embraces both the Turkish and European quarters of the City where one can mingle in one of the greatest market places in the world, discover Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Hippodrome, The Valens Aqueduct, the Basilica Cistern and the Theodosian City Walls.  In the city itself, one walks alongside the Golden Horn, the river dividing the two European parts of Istanbul into the old city and Beyoglu.  Geographically, historically and culturally, this European City of Culture is like no other on the planet.

Highlights include, cultural treasures like, Aya Sofya, the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque; boat trips across the Bosphorus to Asia and the Princes Islands.

Price from £779 includes flights, transfers, half-board accommodation and the services of a dedicated tour leader.
Tel: 01707 33 11 33

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Orient Express Ceases Operation

Danube Express

After 125 years the original Orient Express service will grind to a halt for good on 12 December when the famous name will disappear from European timetables.  During its heyday in the 1930s, the Orient Express ran between Paris and Istanbul with through coaches from Calais and Ostende for the benefit of UK travellers.  Now the Danube Express will take up this mantle with a variety of journeys offered in May, June and September to and from Istanbul.

Istanbul is set to top travel hot lists next year after being named European Capital of Culture for 2010 and this coincides with the Danube Express’ arrival in the city.  Reviving the Golden Age of rail and waiting to whisk passengers on a relaxed voyage of discovery is the Danube Express’ Istanbul Odyssey, an exotic overland adventure between London and Istanbul. Offering an altogether more civilised method of travel along this route than hitherto with deluxe en suite compartments, the Danube Express is ideal for those in search of a slice of nostalgia.

Read more…

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Is Turkey Part of Eastern Europe?

Last week Pegasus airlines flew me and eight other journalists to Istanbul to write about it being the capital of culture for 2010.  Pegasus, who have previously been flying out a few times a week from Stansted, are launching daily flights to Istanbul, among other destinations, from just £39.99.  For more information on flights go to:

I am not sure if I truly believe Turkey is part of Europe.  After all it is a place entirely divided geographically and historically.  I once wrote an article for the Nico Colchester Competition, sponsored by Shell (which I did not win) advising the EU of serious concerns to be considered if admitting Turkey into the union.  That was some five years ago now, during which I have graduated from UCL and also been to Istanbul for the first time.

Is Istanbul, is Turkey part of Europe? Technically, geographically, yes.  Historically, partially.  Will it become part of the EU?  Quite possibly.  Regardless of my thoughts, or your preconceptions here are my best bits (or at least my best photographs!)

Flag on Taksim Square
Flag on Taksim Square

Read more…

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