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  • Shelley Dark

13. The enchantment of Hazz

It’s 5pm on Sunday afternoon.. I’m sitting up on the bed with my laptop on my knee and this is my view - you can see the Hagia Sophia in the distance. And Asli, our hostess, has joined our little band of travellers, so I had better make this post good!

(No sooner had I mentioned to Asli that I was writing than a desk appeared especialy for me. I know she'll forgive me for preferring to lie on the bed with this view) I’d like to stay here for a week, writing, photographing, looking out of my window, chatting to Asli, moseying about.

I think I have already told you Hazz is the creation of fashion designer and interior decorator Asli Tunca and her husband, painter and sculptor Carl Vercauteren. Carl is away at the moment in Belgium with their youngest daughter. Together they have transformed a 19-century home in the heart of the city's old European quarter. When Asli inspected it 14 years ago, she could see the sky from the bottom floor, up through the 5 storeys. And like many renovators, she said there were times when they thought they could not go on. The first photo below is a formal portrait of Asli and Carl by a professional photographer, and after that a casual grainy one taken with my phone in low light. I hope it captures something of her warmth as well as her beauty.

The house from the street is not remarkable. Asli’s office has a glass-front facing the street - I think this is where she once had her showroom. Now it has a long desk where she sits to work. The bookshelves behind hold big boxy folders which she has covered in goatskin in varying shades of chamois. Perfect imperfection.

Asli is very busy - yesterday she was arranging to ship rugs to New York. And apart from her business, she is decorating their apartment in Paris. I know. LIke a dream.

The double doors on the street open on to a long corridor, down 12 or so stairs to another set of iron doors.

These give on to the long large reception sitting room, ending in a wall of iron-framed French doors, looking through to a green backdrop of jasmine and I think banksia rose. The most stunning light floods the room from the enclosed gravel terrace. You will remember this professional photo I have shown you before.

The terrace is so inviting - cafe tables and chairs next to heavy armchairs and ancient pots. Asli's dog Muffin, when she’s going silly, races around the perimeter at a million miles an hour and then stands up to see if she can see any wild cats, which come to annoy her.

We have breakfast near these French doors. Sarah and Zair look after us, and there is a delectable array of food for just the two of us - yesterday even a tarte tartin as well! We love the creamy rolls of kumak which tastes like a faintly yoghurt-flavoured thick cream.

Asli has used this space so cleverly, breaking the walls and dividing the space with columns on plinths and discrete seating areas. The open space is elegant in its restraint. Two matching tables complete the symmetry.

The artworks are an eclectic mix of Ottoman and European, ancient and modern. Gilt frames co-exist with a portrait made of twisted wire. There are a two portraits of Asli’s mother who was a renowned beauty.

An elegant staircase made of chestnut leads to the higher floors - this photo is also from Asli's Instagram gallery.

The bedrooms are all different from each other, and very different from the predictable homogenised comfort of the hotel chains. Hazz feels like home with all its eccentricities.

Our beds are wonderfully comfortable and the fluffy pillows as light as air. Cally has the Terrace Room with its own terrace with a canopy of foliage which I overlook. I'm in the Room with a View which commands views of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Constantin has a remarkable arrangement of lights above the bed. Showers are huge square overhead rainheads over marble baths, with the option of hand held nozzles which are great for hair rinsing.

Below is Constantin.

In my room...

Cally's shower screen...

and mine, a fine muslin curtain...

Asli had a sleep-in this morning and Sarah took us downstairs to see the Genoese floor - Asli has begun to make it into a hamam. There is light from the glass panels in the floor upstairs, but there is also electricity down there. I took a few photos for you. Don't you love the old portable shower?

How fortunate are we to have stayed here? Even looking in the cupboards in my bedroom absorbs me, full of wonderful books and shells, stones and curios. These photos are just a sample of them.

I have so many more photos of Hazz, but it's after midnight. We have so enjoyed being here. I hope you have too.

shelley dark, writer 

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