When James Bond is being driven through Istanbul from his hotel, the Krystal Palas to meet with Darko Kerim for the first time, he looks at the scenery around him, which he feels is marred somewhat.

It should have been the Arabian Nights, but to Bond, seeing it first above the tops of trams and above the great scars of modern advertising along the river frontage, it seemed a once beautiful theatre-set that modern Turkey had thrown aside in favour of the steel and concrete flat-iron of the Istanbul-Hilton hotel, blankly glittering behind him on the heights of Pera.

At the time of Ian Fleming’s writing, the Hilton Istanbul was new, having opened in 1955. Fleming had stayed there in that opening year, when he traveled to Istanbul as part of a delegation for an Interpol conference. It was a stay in which Fleming witnessed mob violence first hand.

When Bond meets Kerim, the latter asks him how he likes his hotel, noting he was surprised that Bond chose the Palas, as it is “little better than a disorderly house.” Bond replies that he just didn’t “didn’t want to stay at the Istanbul-Hilton or one of the other smart places.”

Exterior view of the Istanbul Hilton shortly after opening.
Front Desk/Lobby of Istanbul Hilton in 1955.



Leave a Reply Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.