Beyoğlu Öğretmenevi: The Teacher’s Lounge
Like Atatürk statues and crescent-and-star flags etched into the sides of mountains, the öğretmenevi (“teacher’s house”) is an integral part of the Turkish landscape. Found in almost every city in Turkey, these government-run institutions serve as affordable guesthouses for educators on the road and – since anyone is welcome if space is available – for those traveling on a teacher’s budget.
For the most part, these guesthouses are drab affairs, 1970s-era concrete boxes usually painted in a shade of pink and found in some of the least interesting parts of town. Not so in Istanbul’s historic Beyoğlu neighborhood, where the local öğretmenevi is a grand, late-19th-century building, formerly a French-built hotel that – just like the more famous Pera Palace Hotel nearby – put up travelers arriving on the Orient Express.
A “teacher’s house” since the 1980s, the building received a complete remodeling two years ago, which resulted in the addition of a top-floor restaurant and bar. We walked by the building on a recent afternoon and were intrigued by its sign, which looked more like that of a boutique hotel’s than of a state-run institution. The lobby smacked of a Miami Beach retirement home, but a quick trip up the elevator took us into a modernish dining room that had several tables with fine views of the waters of the Golden Horn (the poor man’s Bosphorus, some might say) and a cozy, five-stool bar at one end.
Curious, we returned for dinner to find out just what Istanbul’s teachers are up to at night. (The full text of this archived review can be found here.)