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Peninsular Peace (Hotels in Bodrum
House & Garden

"We are going to Bodrum, where do you think should we stay?" I asked. She looked at me and then peered out of the window. "Bodrum, you should have seen it just after the war. Camel caravans would use the beach just beneath our terrace, their heads bobbing in and out of view behind the basil pots." "Have you still got the house?", I asked, trying to supress the interested tone in my voice. She continued, "I went back once, I should never have gone. The hills had gone, swallowed up in concrete. The house was still there but there had been some squabble over the title deeds with a neighbour. I could never think of going back again. But you go. You can not know what it was like before."

I struggled with the gas stove and tried to prepare another cup of coffee. We were in her small London flat filled with books, her watercolours and killims. The coffee was resolutely Turkish. It came in small brown parcels from the Egyptian Spice Bazaar in Istanbul and had to be cooked up in cold water in a small copper pot with a long handle which I had already knocked over once. She watched my efforts, then added, " Yes, I think there is a friend who still lives there. She lives with Murat in the old town and rents out a few rooms. I will write her a note which you can deliver. If you like the look of it you could stay there. At the very least they can tell you where to eat."

That said she cheered up, strode elegantly off to her desk and started writing a three page letter in bright blue ink. A month later, armed with this introduction, we sailed into Bodrum's castle-guarded bay. Over the following years we would come back again and again, either exploring the hinterland by car or the Turkish coast by boat.

We have finally cracked the vexed question of where to stay. The Queen Ada Hotel is an absolute gem. It stands above its own pebble beach looking north over a scattering of islands on the edge of the village of Torba. Right beside the hotel pool stands a ruined temple converted into a Byzantine church. This is too small a site to feature in the guidebooks, yet it perfectly anchors the hotel grounds in the past. For the Queen Ada, though built of local stone and already surrounded by a lush garden is only a few years old. A duck-board pier, in the day filled with great blue sunbathing beanbags, takes you from the pebble beach to the deep clear seawater. Breakfast is the great hotel meal of the day. It was also triumphantly Turkish, an imposing buffet of fresh fruits, mountain honey, dried fruits, yoghurts, local jams and bread. The beachside bar produces snacks, fresh squeezed juices and aromatic coffee throughout the day. Dinner is served in the garden on immaculately dressed tables where you can watch the moon rise over the waters. Like all good hotels it is small. The Queen Ada has just two dozen rooms with a seaview. The scrupulous standards of service are watched over by its near resident owner, an engineer who is also the wine columnist for Cornucopia magazine. In August it is filled with an elegant media crowd from Istanbul but for the rest of the year at least half the guests are European and American.

The Ada Hotel is another notch up the ladder of exclusivity. It is literally a dream palace, a labyrinth of stone stairways, terraces, courtyards, fountains, pools, cool internal halls and beautiful staff. It is furnished with a lavish abundance of good antique furniture and venerable textiles that look doubly superb against the unadorned masonry walls. The whole complex was designed by a young architect whose knowledge of local stone and the indigenous architecture of the Bodrum peninsula is unrivalled. He also had the opportunity to design a hammam, but built on a scale and an opulence that hasn't been seen in Turkey since the last days of the Ottoman Empire. The Ada is tucked away from the coast up a hill, though it also maintains its own separate seafront complete with a pier, bar and some stagey awnings. The cloistered calm of the place would not suit everyone, though it was planned as a deliberate contrast to the jostling proximity of life at sea. Most guests come for three days to top or tale a gulet cruise.

The bedroom suites, each of them seemingly designed as the stage for an obsessive affair, are the perfect places in which to stock up on private life.

Queen Ada Hotel has 22 rooms which can be reserved by tel 90-252-367-1598, fax 90-252-367-1614 or e-mail "queenad@ibm.net"

The seven bedrooms and four suites of the Ada Hotel can be reserved on tel 90-252-377-5915, fax 90-252-377-5379 or by e-mail: info@adahotel.com

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