REUTERS/Murad Sezer

After two and a half years of renovation costing $ 29 million, the five star luxury hotel Pera Palace in Istanbul Turkey opened its doors to guests. This 118 year old property, in the UNESCO world heritage list, was the first luxury hotel in Turkey when it was built in 1895. The new and improved Pera Palace now has 115 rooms including 16 suites, and amenities feature a spa with a traditional Turkish hammam and an indoor swimming pool. The Pera was originally designed by Levantine architect Alexander Vallaury and is a mix of Oriental and Occidental styles. Back in 1895 it was the only other place in the city to boast of a wood and iron elevator and running hot water and electricity other than the Sultan's palaces.

Post renovation the hotel has a new exterior minus the old paint and pollution. The six domed Kubelli Salon inside the hotel has a new glass roof to let in more light, as you can sit there and enjoy your afternoon tea. The grand hall, which was once bombed during the Second World War, now has Murano chandeliers. The colonnaded foyer is resplendent with refurbished Carrera marble and gold-leaf decoration. The guest rooms feature the exquisite hand woven Oushak carpets. Today about 300 pieces of original furniture from during Pera's hay day decorate the guest rooms. It also has 5000 pieces of Christofle silverware that were used during the inaugural ball of 1895.

The Pera played a great role during the Second World War as it was a popular spy zone, and saw a lot of action. There is a lot of romanticism attached to the hotel whose room tariff starts at 230 Euros up to 4,000 Euros per night. As for dining you can enjoy a fusion of French, Italian, and Turkish specialities at the Agatha Restaurant.

This is one hotel which you will find intriguing as it was witness to many spy games and hosted many popular personalities in its time. It was the last stop of destination for the popular Orient Express. Agatha Christie is said to be inspired by the hotel to use it as a backdrop in her stories. Author Ernest Hemingway drank in the Orient Bar. King George V and Greta Garbo were regular visitors to this place. Alfred Hitchcock, and Winston Churchill stayed here and Zsa Zsa Gabor spent time with Sultan Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish republic in his favorite chamber, Room 101. Today it is a museum.