In its original incarnation as Halicarnassus, Bodrum was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. But over time, the tomb crumbled and the port city faded into relative obscurity. Today, the city and the eponymous peninsula it stands on have reinvented themselves as one of the hippest hot spots on the Mediterranean. Not only has it avoided much of the high-rise development elsewhere on Turkey’s coast, but it’s also home to elegant hotels, with a lively array of excellent restaurants and busy bars peppered across the peninsula. While it may no longer be an ancient wonder, chic modernity suits Bodrum perfectly.
For luxury calm: Amanruya
Located on the peninsula’s north coast near the village of Torba, Amanruya is an oasis that feels removed from the rest of the world. Just 36 sizeable pavilions dot the hillside—their honey-colored walls are framed by lemon trees and paths that wind down to a secluded bay. Above, an infinity pool, spa, and library add to the air of tranquility. Room prices vary seasonally, but if you want a true escape, this is your haven.
For nightlife: 4reasons hotel+bistro
Bodrum’s party scene promises long and lively nights. This can certainly be said of Yalikavak, where bars line the streets around the marina. Just outside the town and perfectly poised for a night out is 4reasons, whose walk-in showers and minimalist décor give it a distinct modern vibe. Visitors can happily spend their days lounging by the pool, but the hotel is close enough to the main drag that they can be clinking glasses as soon as they summon the will to move.
For spa serenity: the Bodrum Edition
Created by ultra-hip New York hotelier Ian Schrager and accommodation behemoth Marriott International, the Bodrum Edition is located in Yalikavak, just minutes from Bodrum Castle and Bodrum Amphitheatre. Most of the 108 rooms and suites look out at the Aegean, and some have private pools. Guests can cast off their cares at the spa and Turkish hammam. Treat yourself to a Hawaiian lomilomi massage in one of 14 treatment rooms and outdoor cabanas.
For Bond fans: Caresse, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa
Cutting a dash on the water, Caresse looks like the sort of idyll James Bond might drift around at mission’s end. Fittingly, the house yacht was even used in the filming of the 2006 blockbuster Casino Royale. Guests can sail off into the sunset on their own adventure before returning to the nicely compact retreat, where 77 rooms, suites, and villas overlook a private beach. The hotel’s Glass Lounge is the perfect spot for a punchy cocktail with a view.
For urban dwellers: Ena Boutique Hotel
The Ena Boutique Hotel is ideally located in the heart of Bodrum’s buzzing center. Inexpensive yet comfy, the hotel features 18 rooms, bathrooms with rain showers, and a roof terrace with a view of the city roofs to the seafront beyond. It’s also a short walk from here to Bodrum Castle and the bars along Cumhuriyet street.
For glamorous gourmets: Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum
Perched above Paradise Bay, the Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum has 137 rooms, suites, apartments, and villas decked out with neutral tones and handsome teak paneling. While many of the rooms have views of the property’s two private beaches, its three main restaurants—Japanese, Italian, and Turkish—are a highlight here. Bodrum Balıkçısı serves delicious Turkish fare, including sardines marinated in garlic and beetroot-infused raki, plus a göbek salad made up of lettuce, hazelnuts, roasted sesame seeds, and seaweed.
For family fun: Hilton Bodrum Türkbükü Resort & Spa
Neslted on the headland above the town of Türkbükü, the Hilton Bodrum features a host of indoor and outdoor pools, kids club, children’s menus, and wakeboarding and water-skiing for teens. Parents, meanwhile, can indulge in relaxing treatments at the ayurvedic spa.
For boutique bargains: Divan Bodrum
Divan Bodrum, on the northern tip of Türkbükü, exudes an easy trendiness that belies its affordability and its 60 rooms are decorated in soothing pastel tones. There’s a private beach and an outdoor pool that’s an ideal spot for dozing. Iskele Restaurant, meanwhile, serves delicious Mediterranean fare and Sahil Bar mixes cocktails on the waterfront.
This story was adapted from the June 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).