How a new luxury hotel helped make Istanbul a Champions League-worthy hotspot
It is, briefly, the rudest of awakenings; an extended, insistent honking of a horn that pierces the outer shell of my slumber. My eyes are peeling open. It is only after a minute that I remember my location and pull back the curtains to admire it. There it is, the Bosphorus sparkling in the Istanbul morning; the ferry that has woken me, busy with travellers, just commencing its slog across the currents. And there it is, immediately to the south, across the side-channel of the Golden Horn; the core of the ancient city, resplendent in the sunlight, the Topkapi Palace preening on its hilltop, the heavenly hybrid of Hagia Sophia behind it.
I burrow out of the duvet and step on to the terrace with a coffee to gaze across a place that is enjoying a moment. On October 29, it will be exactly a century since Turkeys largest city was superseded by Ankara as the national capital (it would subsequently lose its most celebrated name, Constantinople, in 1930) but Istanbul does not seem too fazed.
The city will stage the foremost fixture in European club football on June 10 Man City and Inter Milan taking to the pitch at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium for the Champions League Final; a showpiece Istanbul will host with belated gusto, having had the 2021 fixture torn from its grasp by the pandemic.