For something really special, why not enjoy a night less ordinary. We scour the world to find the most amazing and unusual hotels all over the world. Whether you’re interested in a night with some giraffes, or you want to pretend to be James Bond for one night only, we’ve got you covered. This week, a revolving hotel room. Enjoy a night less ordinary at the Marmara Hotel, Antalya.
The WOW factor: The Revolving Loft Room. It’s the extra special touch that we thought made the Marmara Antalya worth featuring in our series of great hotels. 24 rooms are built into the revolving roof of the hotel give you a view that changes by the hour. A full revolution soaking in every view takes seven hours, just don’t blame us if you never want to leave! Soak up the atmosphere as you gaze across the sparkling water of the Mediterranean and the breathtaking views of the Bey Mountain range.
Where: Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, USA When: First week of December
People might say that Las Vegas is a festival itself, as it’s a place where the lights never go out. However, if you opt for a December trip to Las Vegas, you’ ll have the chance to personally experience the 10-day National Finals Rodeo, a.k.a. Rodeo Superbowl. The festival involves, the top 15 rodeo cowboys who compete each other, claiming prizes up to $5.5 million!
Where: Guatemala City and Antigua, Guatemala When: December 7th
According to local tradition the Devil lurks in house corners, under every bed and in the garbage bins. Therefore, on 7th December of every year the locals clean their houses and streets, setting the garbage on fire at 6 o’clock in the evening. Usually, on top of the burning pile they also throw a figure of the Devil. Certainly an unusual addition to our list of December festivals.
A beach that offers 11 miles of sand, an ancient Lycian city nearby and the promise of nesting sea turtles, makes Patara Beach in Turkey an amazing one to visit.
Head along the miles and miles of golden sand to find your own secluded little slice of paradise. The beach regularly features in those ‘best beaches in the world’ lists and offers and excellent chance to get away from it all. It backs onto endless dunes with the impressive Taurus Mountains in the distance, and actually, the area is packed with stunning natural beauty.
The most amazing part of a visit to this beach though has to be its pristine condition. There are strict conservation laws in place to protect the loggerhead turtles (carerra-caretta) that come to nest and lay their eggs there.
A spy museum, all you’ve ever wanted to know about toilets and real life samples from Big Foot, we’ve got 10 really weird museums from around the world for your pleasure.
Want to become a spy? Actually, can we just ask, who doesn’t? Well, now you can, for a day anyway, at the International Spy Museumin Washington DC, USA. We’re talking gadgets, code breaking and generally being a bit James Bond as you learn about the history of secret agents and get to grips with a life of espionage.
Iceland’s Phallological Museum in Reykjavik, is as the name suggests all about biology and takes it very seriously too. It is home to a collection of more than 215 penis specimens from various mammals found in the wild all over the island including a walrus, a rogue polar bear, a whale. There are also four examples from humans, but we didn’t ask where they came from.
We always hear of the priceless art found in countless cities throughout the world, but what about the bad stuff? The Museum of Bad Art in Boston claims to be the only one of its kind in the world. Featuring art that’s ‘too bad to be ignored’ it features plenty of paintings of dodgy blue people, symbols that don’t mean much and some weird uses of nudity.
For all you’ve ever wanted to know about the humble toilet, you could do worse than the International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi. The curators tell us: ‘the toilet is a part of the history of human hygiene which is a critical chapter in the growth of civilisation.’
Athens is well known for its museums filled with thousands of years of artefacts that document the birthplace of science and democracy. We like the Tactual Museum, where you’re actively encouraged to touch everything. There are all kinds of replicas, statues and frescoes that you can get up close and personal with.
The Hair Museum of Avanos in Cappadocia, Turkey is a fairly simple idea, but definitely one of the most bizarre things you’ll see. In a room under an unassuming pottery shop, you’ll find caves covered with a collection of over 16,000 locks of hair from women from all over the world. It’s free to enter, and women can leave a lock of their own if they want.
For the latest information and conjecture on the likes of Big Foot, the Montauk Monster, or the Abominable Snowman, then the Cryptozoology Museum, in Portland, USA is a good place to start. It claims to have ‘actual samples’ of hair and unique pieces of evidence from mythical creatures from all over the world.
Your green fingers will start tingling when you hear about the British Lawnmower Museum. As you would expect, it’s dedicated to all things grass cutting and is home to specialised gardening machines, vintage lawnmowers and all manner of parts and conservation materials from all over the world. A truly British experience.
If you’ve got a weak stomach, it might be best to skip the Paris Sewer Museum. You’re guided through the tunnels and pummelled by historical and factual information about the famous underground areas that have featured in French literature including Les Miserables and Phantom Of The Opera.
Love chips? So do we and so do the Belgians apparently, if the Friet Museum is anything to go by. The ground floor offers a 10,000 year potted history of the humble spud and it’s development into the tasty chip we know and love today.
Ice-cream is the ultimate summer treat, perfect for young and old and anyone with a sweet tooth (and not so sweet.) Impossible to improve I hear you say -well, not quite. We’re here to introduce you to the mysterious ice-cream of Turkey, the dondurma which is ice cold, squidgy, elasticy and stretchy. Sold on nearly every street corner in the resorts throughout Turkey, it’s a magic trick for kids and a feast for the eyes for mum and dad, as the ice cream is on steel poles and doesn’t seem to melt.
Traditionally made with milk, sugar, and masticha, it’s the salep flour that makes it thicken and is behind the mind-boggling stretchiness of the ice cold treat.This great streetside treat is not only delicious, but it doesn’t melt very fast giving the vendors the chance to tease their customers.
While indulging in a great summer holiday in Turkey in resorts like Marmaris, Gumbet, Icmeler and many more, you will certainly come across street vendors wielding the long metal pole and carving shapes of super stretchy, super fun ice-cream.
This lavish, 173-room resort makes its focal point an expansive terrace with an infinity-edged pool. The Six Senses Spa is another major attraction, offering traditional-style hammam, as well as an array of top-standard treatments. The rooms at Barbaros Bay follow the motto ‘living spaces are an expression of our souls’, each one designed to channel space, colour and form to enhance the beauty of the view from your floor-to-ceiling windows. On your walk-out balcony or terrace, you can drink a glass of champagne, while the turquoise blue Aegean embraces you peacefully. In the restaurant, garden-fresh ingredients are cooked with pure inspiration, from Barbaros Bay’s top chefs, whose innovation and mastery is clear in the gourmet breakfast cooked for you each morning. Understated elegance is key in this hotel, and you can’t fault them there. Certainly one of the top Purple Travel choices for hotels in Turkey.
Palace is surely the correct word here. The Delphin Palace Hotel, situated on Lara beach has its own 230 metre private sandy beach with clear blue waters. Its 390 rooms, including one special Pink Moon Honeymoon Suite, one King Suite and one Presidential Suite, each have a mini bar refilled daily, a direct telephone, satellite TV, balcony and parquet floor. Though the food is all-inclusive, choices are not limited choices and the highly-rated food ranges from sushi to barbecue and champagne breakfasts. In addition to the a la carte dining and main restaurant options, there is a 24-hour lobby bar and juice bar at no additional cost. Even the mini-bar can be accessed for free. You only have to read a few reviews to get a grasp of the level of this hotel – the only complaint you will find is that A couple of plans for sightseeing were ruined because there was almost no reason to leave the hotel. There are computer games, free Internet, tennis, water slides, a movie theatre, discos and more on site.
Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul was once the residence of the last Ottoman Sultans. Now, restored to its former glory, the luxury hotel prides itself on a marriage of traditional Turkish hospitality with up-to-the-minute five-star standards. The architectural grandeur of the palace is enhanced with all the modern comforts a deluxe hotel should possess, dramatically situated on the shores of the Bosphorus. A peaceful resort ambience in the centre of the city, this 315 room ‘palace’ is also within close walking distance of the harbourside district of Ortakoy, a fascinating area full of seafood restaurants, specialty antique, ceramic, jewellery shops and a colourful street market at weekends. And if you can drag yourself out of the lavish surroundings of the hotel for long enough, there are some of Istanbul’s most famous open-air restaurants and nightclubs close by too.
Sumahan on the Water was once the industrial factory that distilled the high proof ingredient for “Raki” – the famous Ottoman drink. This restored nineteenth century construction is an uncommon example of what really is a solicitous transformation of an historical building, particularly for Istanbul. The hotel combines exceptional design with a respect for the sites’ historical context; Suma is the word for unadulterated spirit, whilst han was the word for inn in Ottoman times. Situated on the waterfront of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, the Sumahan has just 20 rooms. However, each accommodation is accredited with its own, individual design, sensitively done to showcase the architectural style of the building itself. Along with its own special character, each room has a spectacular view of the river Bosphorus, the divide between Asian and European Istanbul.
The Istanbul EDITION is an exclusive hotel, which boasts a fifteen-story tower with 78 guest rooms and an outstanding, full-floor penthouse. Its multiple venues include a three-story spa by ESPA, the Cipriani restaurant, the Lobby Bar, a drawing room and even a screening room and in-built nightclub. Constructed in the form of a intricate jewel-box, each room includes an entrance vestibule, bedroom area, work station and seating area with wall-to-wall windows overlooking the city. The guest rooms feature Bang & Olufsen state-of-the-art oversized flat screen LCD televisions with integrated stereo; custom imported linens; complimentary high-speed wireless internet; fully stocked mini-bars and 24-hour room service. At Istanbul EDITION, you will find serious luxury.
Arnavutköy (meaning Albanian village) has to be one of the most beautiful suburbs in Bosphoros. Its shore is lined with pretty, wooden art-nouveau style houses and a row of excellent eateries gaze onto the waterfront. Tucked shortly behind these is the bijou Villa Denise, a hotel that charms its guests with luxurious, colourful, Topkapi Palace-inspired fabrics. Small kitchens and microwave ovens inside the rooms mean you can still make yourself at home and feel comfortable, even amid the grandeur. Although you probably won’t be cooking much once you discover the unexpected Spanish restaurant on the ground floor, an amazing, hidden treasure, well away from the tourist rush.
A supreme escape in a pin-drop peaceful countryside location, the Letoonia Golf Hotel overlooks the Acisu River and the glistening Belek Sea. Boasting top-notch facilities that extend the hotel’s own private golfing range, guests will find it hard to leave the fabulous pool complex that’s set inside the hotel’s lush lawns and swishing palm trees. That’s fine though, as there are five impressive pools to choose from, including the tropical lagoon-style pool along the hotel’s front, the rectangular pool that’s perfect for swimming laps and if you want to escape the heat, there’s even a peaceful indoor pool. The service is unbeatable; guests can even take free lessons from golf pros on the hotel’s own driving range or putting green. Or if golf’s not your thing, try your hand at watersports, tennis, and basketball or drop in at the fitness centre where you can work out, take a yoga lesson or join in an aerobics class. After burning all those calories, you can then lavish in one of the three atmospheric restaurants, serving seafood, Turkish and Asian dishes.
You won’t find bigger luxury than here, literally. Kusadasi Aqua Resort Hotel is set in seriously extensive grounds, equipped with numerous swimming pools, slides, loungers, parasols and pool bars to enjoy. As if this wasn’t enough, there is also a full programme of day and evening entertainment, including beach activities and a large theatre to enjoy shows in; there is a games room with snooker, bowling, playstation, kids club, toy room, indoor and outdoor playgrounds; and there are numerous sports facilities including tennis courts, table tennis, mini football, basketball, beach volleyball and a pony club. A pony club! This place is huge. For when you need to chill out from the constant bombardment of entertainment, there is a spa offering Turkish baths, massages, various other treatments and a gymnasium.
Guests can enjoy a bite to eat in one of the two main restaurants or one of the five a la carte restaurants serving Turkish, Exotic Asian tastes, Italian specialties, steaks and fresh seafood. Think Disneyland in Turkey.
A mini Amsterdam in Turkey, the Orange County Resort Hotel mimics the unique Dutch architecture of the sixteenth century. Set on the coasts of Kemer, between the magnificent natural view of the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean, Orange County takes its theme from the fishing village of Volendam located near Amsterdam. Inside charming Volendam houses designed for families with children, are 513 luxury rooms, including some specially decorated Van Gogh rooms. The grounds also boast a pool area of 5000 m2,a magnificent private beach and wharf, exceptional international cuisines, nightly entertainment and daily activities, including poolside aerobics.
If you’re looking for one of the most unforgettable hotels in Turkey, meet the Kremlin Palace. Built on a sandy beach, the hotel boasts some magnificent architecture, modelled on the original Kremlin Palace in Moscow, which was intended to emphasize the greatness of the Russian autocracy. The entrance, named the ‘Gate of Resurrection’, is a near copy of its original which is situated at the entrance of Kremlin Square in Moscow. Likewise, the main building which comprises a stylish lobby, main restaurant, reception and conference centre, is almost a perfect copy of the ‘Museum of History’. All rooms are situated in 4-6 storey building blocks equipped with 10 elevators, a la carte restaurants, a spa and a fitness centre, pools, beach and unique convention saloons. You’re certain to feel like royalty in the ‘wow factor’ hotel.
For more on hotels in Turkey, call Purple Travel now on 0207 993 9228.
Or how to avoid embarrassment when naked in a foreign country…
This week we’ve discovered the multiple souks, the ancient ruins and even the camel-wrestling tournaments that Turkey has built its reputation upon (please see Purple Hearts… Bodrum for more on that). However, any mention of Turkey would be incomplete without some acknowledgment that it is also the European capital of overly-aggressive exfoliation. You cannot visit Turkey without adding a Hammam to your itinerary. And by that I mean a Turkish bath, not a theatrical Irish mother. In fact, you may say that life itself is never truly fulfilled until you’ve had a good ol’ scrub-down from a hairy, half-naked Turk!
The problem then lies in knowing what exactly to expect. A quick Google search churns up dozens of stories of awkward moments, frightened old ladies and slapped cheeks (n.b. the Turks’, not the customers’). Take this American woman in a bath in Istanbul, for example: “Of all the women in the room — at least 40 — I was the sole person wearing a bra. I originally thought keeping on my bra would help me blend in and be more comfortable, but it was immediately apparent that it did nothing but make me awkwardly stand out. I shamefully slithered back to the locker room and succumbed to Turkish tradition as I shed my black brassiere and my modesty, and I reentered the room full of bare breasts.”Another women’s account from a PR review followed suit: “With three of us to be scrubbed down and only one lady to wash us, everything had to be done in turn. This meant the other two women either played a limited game of ‘I spy’ with the tiled interior of the Hammam or watched the third member of our group being covered in black soap, washed down and then scrubbed vigorously with an abrasive pad while lying down completely naked on the floor.”
Forget Hammer Horror – this is Hammam Horror. The tales of embarrassment are vast and often off-putting and its common to leave feeling like a castrated house pet. However with this Purple Travel guide to Hammam, you’ll know what to expect and can avoid all those red-faced moments:
1) Yo mamma’s so old, when she was young, the Dead Sea was only sick. First of all; knowing which Hammam to go to is half the battle. In Turkish, cockroach literally translates to ‘hamam insect’, so you’ll want to avoid the grimy ones. The most famous is Çemberlitaş Hamamı in Istanbul, built in 1584, but as one of the older establishments, it’s relatively pricey. We recommend Mihrimah Bath in Edirnekapi, Oruculer bath next to the grand bazaar or Kadirga bath, not far from the little Hagia Sophia.
2) Yo Hammam’s so stupid, she cooked her own complimentary breakfast. Knowing some Hammam etiquette is vital – take swimwear with you to be prepared. More often than not, the bath will state a ‘dress code’, but it’s best to stand on the side of caution. And although most people do go naked, uncrossing your legs like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct is not advised. On the contrary, avoid lap-eye contact with the other bathers.
Have you seen this Hammam? Caretaker (Photo credit: upyernoz)
3) Yo Hammam’s so hairy, Bigfoot is taking her picture.
Before you go, make sure you’ve had a pre-preen. And by this I mean a ‘tidy-up’, unless you’re sure you won’t be offended when you are stared at and offered a wax. Men may not mind this, but women – the Turks are not afraid to tell you if you’re a little unkempt, so wack out the Veet or things may get a little awkward.
4) Yo Hammam’s so greasy she used bacon as a band-aid. Swallow your pride, it’s time for the massage. Ladies – don’t go in there expecting some sort of relaxing spa treatment with twinkling candles and white-coated beauty technicians; the Turks will kick your ass. And guys – if this whole endeavor seems homoerotic, think happy thoughts; it is as masculine and normal as a post P.E. communal shower.
5) Yo Hammam’s so dirty she has to creep up on bathwater. After the fifteen minute massage, let the cleaning commence. Most of this part will be later blanked out and stored in that part of your subconscious that’s usually reserved for gynecology visits and waiting to pay in Ann Summers. You’ll be maneuvered this way and that, spun around until you can’t stand straight, soaped up like the dirty cocker spaniel and then rinsed down with bowls of hot water. When you come back around, it’s off to the shampoo station for a final, neck-cracking rinse. It’s at this point that you may be solicited for a tip, but this is not necessary and if it comes down to it, just shrug your shoulders and pat your pocket-free hips with a look that says ‘sorry, I would, but I had nowhere to put my change.’
To wrap things up, let’s be blunt about it. It’s clear that youwon’t feel like an adult here, and you definitely won’t feel a man. In fact, it’s difficult to even feel like a human being after being stripped, emasculated and cleaned down like a wet dog. However, no two experiences are alike, and women will be pleased to find that the female bath attendants are far more chivalrous than the men. And all things considered, this is just one of those things you have to do if on holiday in Turkey. You don’t want to return home and tell all your family and friends of how you chickened out on the most defining facet of traditional Turkish culture. So suck it up and get soapy with the best of them.
Turkey is easily one of the most popular summer holiday destinations for Purple Travelers. Its combination of stunning beaches, quaint seaside resorts, ethnic cuisine, and rock-bottom prices, make Turkey the destination of choice for British holidaymakers. If you’re thinking of travelling to Turkey this summer, or have already planned to return, we’ve come up with some of the most spectacular things to do while you’re there.
1. Pamukkale Thermal Pools
If you do only one excursion during your stay in the Bodrum Peninsula, this is definitely it. This rare formation of thermal pools high in the mountainous region is said to heal asthma, rheumatism, and even skin and eye conditions. In case that’s not enough to convince you, the stunning views and the photos you’ll be able to bring back home should certainly do it. Pamukkale image via @ Esther Lee
2. Gulet Cruise
The best way to experience everything the Turkish coast has to offer is by taking a Gulet Cruise, also known as the Blue Cruise. Starting in the port of Bodrum and travelling as far as Antalya, these cruises will take you through stunning bays, busy ports, ancient cities, and secluded coves. A little research in advance is well worth it, as these cruises are different and may stop in different places of interest. Keep your eyes out for those stopping at Kaputas Cove and Patara Beach. Gulet Cruise Image via @ Turkey Vision.
3. Ruins of Ephesus
One of the most-visited archeological sites in Turkey, the ancient ruins are certainly a sight to see if you’re staying near Kusadasi. Ephesus was home to one of the original 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis, and still is a significant point of culture, religion, and history. Image of Ephesus via @ Esther Lee.
4. Mamure Kalesi
This castle fortress located on the southernmost tip of Turkey, is a magnificent sight. Home to the Romans, Crusaders, and Ottomans throughout the centuries, it stands as though it was livable just last week. Although it’s about 5 hours from the nearest tourist resort of Alanya, it is the ideal getaway for a swim at sunset. Image of Mamure Kalesi via @ Dr. Colleen Morgan.
5. Ballooning in Cappadocia
The area of Cappadocia is hugely popular with tourists, who visit it to examine its history, geological and historic landscape. But really, the way to see it is by hot air balloon and is available in Goreme. This will give you a true birds-eye view of the incredible landscape. Image via @ Moyan Brenn.
Of course, there are many other sights to see in Turkey that we didn’t go into more detail about and are sure to be a memorable experience on your trip. Definitely go to one of the many Turkish markets in your resort, or the Turkish Nargile (Water Pipe) Bars. There are many archeological sites and castles scattered throughout the coastal region worth visiting. If you’re still deciding on where to go in Turkey, do some research on what you want to see before you book and stay in the area with the most places of interest to you. A good place to start is Trip Advisor’s Thing to Do in Turkey page. Have you been to see these, or any other sites, yourself? If so, please post your feedback and your suggestions for our readers!
For more on things to do in Turkey and the best value flights, hotels and transfers, get in touch with our expert team at Purple Travel here.