I’ve been in the travel industry for more than 30 years, and in this time, I have heard about all kinds of unusual butlers and concierges. I mean, dedicated staff to handle just your sunglasses. Your sunscreen. Your fireplace. Or your surfboard. To name just a few that I have discovered. These butlers are always on-call and at-the-ready to offer you some of the world’s finest services.
And now, guests traveling to Istanbul can look forward to a sweet and unique experience with the world’s first Baklava Butler at Shangri-La Istanbul, Bosphorus. Perfect for the foodie-obsessed and exclusivity-seeker, the Baklava Butler service is available for in-house guests only in the Lobby Lounge and IST TOO restaurant. Dressed in a traditional and stylish Turkish outfit, the Baklava Butler presents the historic sweet dish that dates back to the Ottoman Empire. A treat for the palate, eyes — and of course, the camera lens — the Baklava Butler offers a one-of-a-kind experience for guests’ travel memories, culinary bucket list and Instagram feeds. How sweet it is!
Here’s how it works. Upon arrival to the retreat on the Bosphorus Strait, guests receive an ornate key to redeem the exclusive service. When presenting the key to a hotel colleague in either the Lobby Lounge or IST TOO restaurant, the Baklava Butler will serve a portion of classic baklava that is rich in flavor and filled with Antep pistachio. The tasting is served with Maraş ice cream, a traditional Turkish ice cream that is made of clotted cream, which is prepared and cut from a vertical skewer. The Maraş Turkish ice cream can be served either on the side or inside the baklava like a sandwich.
The baklava served at Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul is baked to order from a specialty shop in Gaziantep, known as the birthplace of baklava and Turkey’s Pistachio Capital. While other types of baklava use rosewater and cinnamon to enhance the taste, bakers in Gaziantep do not use additional fillings in the traditional treat. Gaziantep baklava bakers use a simple blend of honey, phyllo pastry, butter and crushed pistachio to make Turkey’s famous dessert. (By the way, you had me at pistachio.)
Guests who wish to take home or gift the decadent dessert can purchase individual boxes at the hotel for TL250 (about $33) per box.
During the Ottoman Empire’s reign in the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean and Balkans, baklava took on elaborate forms throughout the region with written evidence in Topkapı Palace kitchen notebooks as early as in 1473. In its early days, the dish was so decadent that it was served to royalty. Now a milestone in culinary history, baklava was officially registered as a Turkish dessert with a patent in 2005.
Making the rich, flavorful dessert can take years to perfect. Traditional Turkish baklava is made of 40 layers of handmade phyllo dough that are so thin, one should be able to read behind each layer when placing it against text. The baklava is filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.
And in this day and age, it’s good to know that also, Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul, remains committed to providing a safe environment for all through Shangri-La Cares, the Group’s global safety program. Comprising a range of enhanced protocols and measures designed to ensure colleagues work with peace of mind and guests can confidently enjoy the moments that matter most. Shangri-La has followed recommendations laid out by the World Health Organization, or more stringent local directives where appropriate, to ensure its operational protocols are comprehensive. Concrete measures have been adopted at all Shangri-La Group hotels and resorts to combat the risk of contracting viruses and bacteria so that guests can feel safe when staying at or visiting its properties. These protocols include: increased frequency and full attention to deep-cleaning of all high-touch surfaces and areas used by guests throughout the hotels; use of medical grade sanitizers and disinfectants, which are approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency; increased cleaning frequency of air filters and air-conditioner systems to ensure optimal air quality; and safe dining, meetings and events with extra precautions to respect physical distancing and enhanced food safety practices. Guests can learn more about Shangri-La Cares program on the website.
Shangri-La Hotels and Resort, an iconic flagship brand of the Shangri-La Group, currently operates over 80 deluxe hotels and resorts with a room inventory of over 35,000. Renowned for its distinctive Asian hospitality, the Company has properties in Australia, Canada, mainland China, Fiji, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sultanate of Oman, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. The group’s award-winning Golden Circle loyalty program extends to all properties of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts worldwide.
And when you’re in Paris, follow in my footsteps and enjoy the extravagant vegan tea at the Shangri-La, a posh paradise if there ever was one!
For more about my Wanderlust Travels, please Follow me on Instagram at @Debbikickham.