When opening in 2014 the Alavya set a new standard for boutique properties in Turkey. And as Alaçatı’s most well-known luxury boutique hotel, its reputation precedes itself. “You’ll love it…everyone who’s been says it’s divine” I was told by the most discerning travel writer I know. Who had kindly invited me to be her ‘friend in the attic’, taking one of the five rooms in the hotel’s private villa, while she and her family attended her cousin’s wedding.
Even another writer from this publication wrote a glowing review of the hotel a few years ago: “boutique hotel perfection…by far the coolest place to stay in this once sleepy fishing village on the Çeşme peninsula.” But don’t worry, you are not reading a review of the same hotel in the same publication – I will be focussing on Alavya Priveé, where we had the privilege of being some of the first official guests.
About an eight minute walk away from the main hotel, Alavya Priveé is so much more than you would expect from a villa in a sleepy fishing village. It was more like one of the uber mansion houses I lust over on the banks of Regent’s Canal in the St John’s Wood area of London, albeit surrounded by bougainvillea and palm trees, rather than weeping willows. All grown up sophistication and soft chalky naturals – from shutters to stone floors, the high-ceiling and sweeping staircase, creates a grand entrance to a relaxed space where you feel called to curl up on one of the many cosy sofas.
Making the most of the late summer, we spent most of our time in the private garden by the pool. With Balinese day beds, including one big enough for six to sleep on, perched on the sundeck overhanging the pool. The perfect spot for languishing for a few hours with a good book while flirting with the idea of diving into the cool water. While for windier or winter days guest can continue to lounge in the large T.V area off the more open plan main lounge area or the decadent mini cinema/screening room. While the gym in the basement will help burn off the rose and börek, there’s even a sauna too!
The villa is not new. It used to be the home of the Alavya owners, Erol & Rana Tabanca, which explains the comfortable and ‘lived in’ feel. I hear the family decided to open their home to guests after relocating due to other projects. Erol is a big deal in the construction industry in Turkey, and involved in a new contemporary and modern museum in Eskişehir, which is already creating quite the buzz.
Back to Alavya, where the story behind the name sets the tone of the brand. I am told Erol bought the property for his wife Rana and she named it in honour of their young son, who couldn’t pronounce the English words “I love you” and instead would say “A-lav-ya”. Correspondingly, the hotel’s restaurant is called Mitu, as if the parents are replying “me too“. I know. Too much. And the Alavya love spills into the villa too, with one such example being the gift left on my bed at turn down. A wooden plaque featuring an inspiration quote that I had spotted by the pool and mentioned that I like. It came ‘Gift wrapped’ with string and a decorative branch, such a lovely touch.
As this villa set up is new to the hotel, I got the impression they are still finding what works in terms of staffing vs. self-catering. We had a kind of half, half set-up, with staff there some of the time. And opted to have our breakfast in the hotel, at one of Alicati’s destination restaurants, Agrilia. We enjoyed an incredible combo of à la carte and buffet in the open Mediterranean garden under a canopy of a trees. I particularly recommend the Herb Benedict followed by what’s said to be the best St Sebastian cheesecake in Turkey. Sweet, sloppy and creamy heaven.
I would also highly recommend visiting the hotel for its wellness offerings. First a class with titian yogi goddess Alexis Gulliver, who teaches in English (well, American). Then a Balinese massage at the spa. I have tried to forget the last message I had in Turkey, by a hairy overweight man in a towel who had aggressively scrubbed me down and slid me around on some oily tiles. Thankfully my experience at the Alavya spa is a memory that I do want to hold on to. Where, without any prompting, the skilful therapist went deep into my fascia with just the right level of pressure. I like to think of myself as a bit of a massage connoisseur, and from head to feet her technique was unique. Each of my toes got the relief of a little crack, and she employed a kind of flick of the wrist to tug my hair and stimulate my scalp. Sounds weird but felt like some incredible magic. And off I floated, in a perfectly mellow mood to enjoy my last night in “the mansion”. Curled up with a good book, the whole place to myself as everyone else was out partying, I thought to myself I hope to not be invited to more weddings, if I get to hide-out in accommodation anything like Alavya Privée . . .