The global expansion of the Soho House Group continues apace with the opening of its new Istanbul outpost. However, if anyone thought the brand, founded by Nick Jones in 1995, might be in danger of over-stretching itself and diluting its potent USP – “a comfortable home for a community of like-minded creative people wherever they are” – need only glance inside the latest House and think again.
It’s the group’s 13th house and the largest club to date, with a variety of public spaces and 87 bedrooms spread throughout four buildings: two existing properties and two new builds. Looking at the scale and detailed execution of the Istanbul House refurbishment, it’s clear that Jones, although now a minority stakeholder since US billionaire Ron Burkle and his investment fund Yucaipa bought 60 per cent of Soho House Group (SHG), remains a fastidious hands-on CEO, ensuring that this new property is as unique as the group’s venues in other cities such as Berlin and Chicago.
Four years in the making, Soho House Istanbul lies in the Beyoğlu district of Turkey’s largest city, but enter the 19th-century Corpi Building and you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve wandered into a Venetian palazzo. Palatial proportions (five metres high in places), tick. Carrara marble and decorative parquet flooring, tick. Walls and ceilings complete with frescoes, tick. Built by a Genoese shipbuilder in 1873, who enlisted Italian architect Giacomo Leoni, it was indeed inspired by an Italian palazzo, and originally took nine years to complete. It previously served as the US embassy and consulate before becoming the social hub of the Soho House Istanbul which encompasses private club spaces, a prohibition style speakeasy called The Embassy Club and a rooftop pool.
James Waterworth, design & developement director, said the historical nature of the Corpi building was the main challenge. “There were limits to what we could do with the space. Everything had to work around the original layout; for example, where you can put the kitchen and the bar,” he says. “All of the frescoes and a lot of the carpentry around the Piemonte rosewood doors was in bad condition, and had to be restored by experts. They were as detailed as scientists.” The furniture and many of the textiles were sourced, or made locally, with an eclectic mix of custom-designed furniture by the SHG team and vintage pieces bought from antiques shops.
The Annex Building next door hosts 28 bedrooms. Meanwhile the newly constructed Chancery Building houses the 250-cover Italian restaurant Cecconi’s on the ground floor and on the Chancery’s roof members will find The Mandolin Terrace, which offers “Aegean-inspired dining”. “It overlooks the Golden Horn and the old town,” says Waterworth. “It’s particularly special at dusk when you can gaze at views of the Golden Horn and the old town to the sound of the calls for prayer.”
SHG excavated part of the hillside to create the six-storey Glass Building, home to another 59 bedrooms, second rooftop pool, large Cowshed spa, gym, ballroom and 49-seat screening room. There’s also The Allis, an all-day lounge and bar. Bedrooms range in size from “tiny” (19 sqm) “small” and “small plus” to 17 mezzanines offered in four different sizes (with the trademark SHG in-room freestanding bathtub), plus a Playroom and the expansive 137-sqm Apartment. Rooms are light and airy, with the host city reflected in a smattering of richly patterned tribal ceramics and textiles – such as ikats, suzanis and kilims – or carved wooden headboards.
Best of all, you don’t have to be a member of Soho House to stay there.