What comes to mind when you think of a Golden Horn? What about the word Balat? Well, if you are not from Istanbul or you don’t know about this gem of a city, these words probably have little to no significance for you.
To Istanbul I Go
I recently succumbed to my overwhelming cravings for a travel adventure and hopped on a plane to Istanbul. Why Istanbul? It seemed like a good enough place to seek adventure. Ignoring all the naysayers and reasons why not, I hopped onto the ever-so-marvelous Turkish Airlines and jetted off. I entrusted my health, safety, peace of mind, and happiness to a hotel that I had never heard of, the Lazzoni Hotel. It was recommended by a true connoisseur of everything there is to know about the best of the best in Turkey.
The Lazzoni Hotel
Where is the Balat area of Istanbul? It had no meaning to me at the time, but boy was I in for a treat. I was driven along a small body of water, which I later learned was called the Golden Horn Estuary. Across from this liquid reflection of light was the seven-story Lazzoni Hotel, lit in the way you would expect a luxury property to be lit. It beckoned even the weariest of eyes. Jet-lagged but curious, I left my taxi, entered a spotless, magnificent lobby space (following the COVID checkpoints), and was welcomed by a staff of warm smiles and eager servitude.
My check-in was swift and convenient. My room made me feel like I was soaring over and almost into the body of the sea. The lights on the hill where the hotel was situated emanated the promise of an even more brilliant tomorrow.
The next day, I woke up to breakfast for royalty. Everything under the sun. Healthy. Scrumptious. Excellent service. Next was the moment I had been waiting for. It was one-on-one with the Hotel’s General Manager.
Mr. Gurhan Sayar
I was summoned to the 6th floor, which was in itself a gorgeous salon with endless windows, lots of light, and exquisite views of the bay. It was truly a feel-good, comfortable space for dining, conversation, entertainment, and enlightenment, or to take deep breaths and appreciate some intention-less moments. The 6th floor had a charm that was small enough to make your own nest but big enough to attain privacy and/or be socially distant.
I was eager to dig deep into what was still the mystery of this Lazzoni Hotel. Why hadn’t I heard of it? What made it feel so special in the time before I sat with the general manager? It was a remarkable place, through and through.
There he was. Mr. Gurhan Sayar. A statuesque person emanating a healthy blend of authority and authenticity met my eager spirit. He made it immediately known that he had little time to spare but still sat comfortably engaged and content to share a conversation with me. Our talk resulted in a Wikipedia-like experience. He wasn’t just any general manager; Mr. Sayarhar shared an incredible amount about the hotel, the city, the culture, and much more.
Born from Furniture
Only five years standing, the Lazzoni Hotel, unlike many luxury properties, was not birthed from investors or a famous hotelier. Rather, it came from a furniture brand. Lazzoni happens to be a successful furniture store chain. What brought about the hotel idea? Well, like many visionaries, the question is always what’s next.
Efe Kabbabulut, a fourth-generation founder of Lazzoni Furniture, asked himself, “Where else can a consumer enjoy our furniture besides their home?” The answer was placed people frequent for hospitality: hotels and restaurants. Voila!
That explained why I had such a hard time leaving my bed, leaving the desk in the room, or getting up from the breakfast table. I seemed to settle into the furniture, and in the case of the breakfast table, the staff never propelled me away. They just allowed me to be.
“Be Who You Are. Do What You Want.”
I later found out about the “Be who you are. Do what you want.” policy. The policy essentially means there are no rules except that whatever you do should not disturb, endanger the safety of, or offend other guests. Other than that, the goal of the Lazzoni Hotel is to let the guest BE AS YOU ARE AT HOME. A HOME AWAY FROM HOME. FEEL AT HOME. When you are there, you are not just a guest or a number; you are family. They surprisingly don’t sell you their view, great menu, beautiful rooms, location, etc. They want you to feel at home. Simple!
Turns out, the less-is-more philosophy works for them because it seemed like they did so much for me by letting me be, letting me feel as if I were in my home. You know that ultra-luxurious feeling you have in a hotel, which sometimes renders the furniture unusable? Not there. Everything looked luxurious yet livable. So you lived it!
Their secret sauce is as simple as it gets. It is all about good vibes, creating a home away from home, feeling like family, and focusing on their own DNA. They create their own story, their own thumbprint. They are not like any other property. They don’t want to be, and they don’t try to be—no excessive marketing, bells, whistles, or horns. The Lazzoni Hotel emanates a feel-good vibe to make you feel comfortable, so you are then compelled to return to this second home.
One of Istanbul’s Finest
This was why I had not heard of it. It is for the lucky few who have the good fortune to seek a home away from home and be led to this Lazzoni nest. If you are over 18 and visit Istanbul, it would behoove you to stay at the Lazzoni Hotel just once. Spoiler alert: if you stay once, you will stay again, so get ready to discover your new home away from home.
Finding this gem made such a difference in my trip. Besides the amazing relationships I fostered there, great food, and top-notch Turkish hospitality, my stay at the Lazzoni was part of the center of my feel-good. And so, the longing will begin again as I commence my journey back to the US.
It goes without saying that if you seek a home away from home that is luxurious but not pretentious, plush yet livable, has exceptional service, authentic Turkish culinary art, great water views, and easy access to Istanbul’s city center; the Lazzoni Hotel is it!