Written by Billie Bhatia
From jaw-dropping hotels to must-visit restaurants, consider this your definitive Bodrum travel guide.
On the southernmost point of the Aegean coast lies Bodrum, which to its regulars is not precisely the town but refers to the peninsula as a whole – and is fast becoming one of the most glamorous destinations for the world’s globetrotters.
With its twinkling crystal turquoise coastline, soft white sands, an impressive marina playing host to imposing super yachts and a booming nightlife scene, the seafront city has undergone a stylish transformation. Where family all-inclusive hotels previously dominated, the influx of boutique boltholes, smart restaurants and sleek beach clubs have crowned Bodrum as the must-visit destination of choice for insiders within a four-hour flight from London.
From awe-inspiring hotels to the area’s most delicious restaurants and knock-out bars, consider this your Bodrum cheat sheet for a really good time.
Sleep: Caresse Bodrum
In a quiet coastal spot in the Bitez area of the Muğla province lies Caresse. With 76 modern rooms and suites, this relative hotel newcomer to the area comes with everything you would expect from a lavish retreat, including an infinity pool so large you often feel like you have it to yourself, breakfast (the Turkish eggs are a must) with sweeping views of the Aegean Sea and a private beach dotted with Instagram-worthy orange sunbeds and a couple of hotel yachts for good measure.
The hotel’s impressive Balinese-inspired spa backs onto the main pool, with a reformer pilates studio and open-all-hours Techno Gym, you could be forgiven for thinking that was its entirety. But travel down a floor and you’ll find six large treatment rooms, an indoor pool, another outdoor pool and a large hamam to blow off the cocktails from the night before.
The best thing about Caresse is the convenience. From your room to the pool, and over to Buddha Bar Beach (the hotel’s all-day all-night beach club) is a matter of steps, making the trek back to your spacious room – complete with double marble sink – after you’re full to the brim with sushi that much sweeter.
A 10-minute drive from the lively Bodrum town centre, Caresse is an ideal spot if you want to be close enough to the action that it’s convenient to have a spontaneous night in the old town but out of it enough to feel a sense of Turkish serenity.
Rooms from £265 per night
Sleep: The Bodrum Edition
Moving our way up the north coast of the Turkish Riviera is Ian Schrager’s The Bodrum Edition. Set on a steep hillside with incredible views of the blue Aegean Sea, the minimalist hotel is complete with classic touches: an imposing disco ball, a neon sign that reads, “The warmeest light is your body,” and hard dark teak wood juxtaposed with soft, white furnishings welcomes Bodrum’s most stylish set.
The private beach set-up is the hotel’s biggest draw. With options to pick a lounger on decking or send, or for an additional fee you can hire a wooden cabana on the jetty that comes with table service and a serious dose of good times.
For those not interested in the alluring Aegean waters, there is an infinity pool bordered in stunning bougainvillea, a nightclub and a beach club that has been known to pop off from midday. Don’t miss the hotel’s restaurant, Kitchen (complete with festoon lights and the aforementioned disco ball), which sits at a higher vantage point offering views that will roll in the likes on Instagram and be sure to order the silky hummus to start.
Rooms from £317 per night
Sleep: Six Senses Kaplankaya
Travelling even further north of the peninsula, but still on a 50-minute drive from Bodrum-Mila airport is the imposing Six Senses Kaplankaya. Once you have partied yourselves out in Bodrum heartland, this health-focused sanctuary is the perfect antidote to restore a sense of balance. The resort is somewhat of a maze, but the hidden pools and private beaches dotted around Six Senses Kaplankaya make it a treat to explore (we hit the jackpot when we found the deserted ‘children’s beach’ with dazzling blue waters and straw umbrellas).
Add exploring the fitness complex to your list too – with an extensive menu of classes available from meditation and yoga to spinning and HIIT – as well as a health and healing area where guests can receive medical treatment from qualified staff.
Make time for a bath that’s carefully positioned at a specific angle to get the best view of the Aegean Sea. After a full day of restorative relaxation swing by Mezze by the Sea – where staff introduce you to the menu with a display of all the cold mezze dishes on offer on a ginormous tray. You’ll leave feeling refreshed, refuelled and revitalised.
Rooms from £297 per night
Eat: Limon Restaurant
For the ultimate sunset dinner head over to Limon Café (not far from The Bodrum Edition) – a charming family-run outdoor restaurant/ café filled with mismatched wooden chairs and tables, big squishy sofas and lit up with row upon row of sweet fairy lights. Be sure to make a booking during peak season, as Limon’s famed food and giant cocktails (one margarita and I had to call it a day) means this place fills up fast. Mezze-style starters make for ideal sharing plates with friends and the house kebab with homemade bread makes this special experience one to remember.
Book Limon Restaurant here
Eat & Drink: Lucca at The Mandarin Oriental
Like I said, Bodrum got a bougie makeover, and if I was handing out bougie gold stars, Lucca at The Mandarin Oriental would be a worthy recipient. Cem Mirap, the founder of Lucca, has been instrumental in masterminding and curating some of the most glamorous destinations in Turkey.
Ultra chic (seriously, every corner deserves a main-grid post), Lucca draws in a stylish crowd, but despite the bevy of Hermes Kelly bags parked up at the beach bar, it isn’t pretentious. The food is European favourites with a twist, including truffle cacio e pepe pizza and calamari fritters – the most ideal place to idle away a day.
Find out more here
Drink: Marina Yacht Club Bodrum
As well as excellent people-watching (because is there anything better on holiday?), Bodrum’s Yalikavak Marina (which is conveniently open 12 months of the year) has a wealth of bars for an upscale evening. Start your night at The Marina Yacht Club Bodrum with incomparable views of the harbour. The Jazz bar’s live music sets the tone for the evening and tees you up for a night exploring the bars and restaurants (and yachts) of the marina. For a home away from home, head over to Zuma for delicious robata mains.
Find out more here
Images: courtesy of locations
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