Ralph Radtke is the General Manager of the iconic Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul. He takes time out of his busy schedule to share his insights of global hospitality with Breaking Travel News.
With a history stretching back centuries, Çırağan Palace Kempinski is an icon in its own right, and a jewel in the Kempinski portfolio. Last year, it was voted ‘World’s Leading Heritage Hotel’ by World Travel Awards.
“Çırağan Palace Kempinski is the most known hotel in Turkey, it has a place in the history of the country,” explains Radtke.
“Three sultans lived here, and their stories are intertwined by the hotel – their affairs, intrigues, it was all here.
The only Ottoman imperial palace on the Bosphorus that once hosted sultans, the location has a heritage that dates to the 17th century.
The building had different formations until the 19th century, including a waterside summer villa and a marble palace.
In 1871, sultan Abdülaziz redesigned the palace with famous architects of the Balyan family, veterans of palace design in the Ottoman Empire.
For the construction of the palace, the finest marbles, porphyries, mother-of-pearl and other valuable materials were brought from all over the world.
In 1909, Çırağan Palace was selected as the site for a significant meeting of the Turkish parliament, and shortly after the conclusion of the meeting, the palace interiors were destroyed by a fire.
From 1930 on, the Besiktas Football Team even used the garden of the palace as their football stadium.
The building stayed unkempt after the fire, and finally in 1991, after a complete restoration and with the addition of a modern hotel building including elegant rooms, restaurants and meeting venues, the property reopened.
Since then, Çırağan Palace continues to be a symbol of luxury.
With its 313 rooms, including 20 suites in the hotel and 11 in the historical palace, the hotel reflects a harmonious blend of the heritage, haute couture service and Turkish hospitality.
During their time at the hotel, guests can enjoy a rich variety of restaurants and feel themselves in an oasis in the city centre. There are also extensive leisure facilities including an infinity pool, sumptuous spa and verdant gardens.
Since its opening, Çırağan Palace Kempinski has been the only hotel in Istanbul reachable in three ways - by limousine, yacht or helicopter - and has seen countless eminent figures come through its doors, including government delegates, royal families and celebrities.
It has also been recognised as the best for the MICE sector, with voters at the World MICE Awards honouring the hotel with the prize for ‘Türkiye’s Best MICE Hotel 2022’.