Glass takes in the splendour of the Aegean coast at Swissotel Büyük Efes

THE ANCIENT historian and geographer Herodotus said of Izmir, “They established their city in the most beautiful skies and the most beautiful climates we know on earth.” He was surely right. With its azure blue skies, turquoise seas and 300 days of sunshine a year, Izmir makes a dreamy cosmopolitan destination.  

Opened in 1964, the Büyük Efes was the first luxury hotel in Izmir and quickly became a meeting point for the most glamorous artists and influential figures in Turkey. Following a two-year renovation process, the hotel reopened under the Swissotel brand in 2008. 

View of the gardens and port from an Executive suite

Today, the hotel covers 12,000 square metres of landscaped grounds and modern, stylish interiors, but incorporates fun original features like a restaurant with windows viewing into the swimming pool – like an aquarium. The hotel is adorned with curious art pieces by celebrated international artists, including self-playing pianos, giving the hotel an artistic and quirky feel. 

The hotel’s newest addition Scappi is a restaurant serving outstanding authentic Mediterranean and Italian cuisine. We attended during its first week of opening and were blown away by the fresh flavours and quality of cooking. One must try the sumptuous Italian classic Osso Buco.

The restaurant is also located on the top floor of the hotel, granting it an awe-inspiring view of the city and the Aegean. 

Hotel grounds

The hotel’s other food offerings include the Café Swiss, which serves a mix of international cuisines for lunch and dinner and also hosts the epic breakfast buffet – which is quite unlike anything you’ve seen before. There is also a patisserie in the hotel lobby and a pool bar with Turkish mezze and grill. 

Despite its sophisticated atmosphere, the hotel is very welcoming of its younger guests, with infant cots and toiletries, and colouring books and pencils supplied on arrival. There’s even a play park discreetly hidden in the lush gardens. 

Cuisine at the aquarium mezzes & grill

The hotel also overlooks the seafront promenade, with its many local restaurants and cafes, and is within walking distance from Izmir’s archaeological museum, grand bazaar and cultural park.

Within driving distance for day trips are the elaborate water parks of Kusadasi and the pretty, ancient towns of Alaçati and Çesme – currently holiday destinations of choice for discerning Turkish holiday-makers. Izmir has something for everyone, and Swissotel Büyük Efes provides the perfect home-from-home from which to explore. 

by Nicola Kavanagh

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Glass Magazine editor in chief

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