Eskişehir, Turkey

Photo: OMM Inn

Most of Turkey, like so much of the world, is closed right now. Coffee houses, hammams, hookah lounges, and soccer fields are locked. Restaurants aren’t allowed to have in-person dining. Schools operate remotely. Barbers and supermarkets have limited hours. While many hotels voluntarily shut their doors due to curfews and travel permits. Although you could visit the Western Asian country, you shouldn’t.

Eskişehir was at the top of your travel wish list. The Old City, which straddles the emerald Porsuk River, is considered one of the most beautiful in Turkey. It’s a university town with two of the country’s largest schools. They attract liberal students, English-speaking foreigners, and a progressive way of life. It’s created a tolerent city in a traditionally conservative region. The addition of the Odunpazari Modern Museum last year made Eskişehir a true destination.

OMM is a modern art museum. It was founded to show off the art collection of Erol Tabanca, an Eskişehir-born architect. It was brought to life by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who designed Tokyo’s Japan National Stadium for the 2020-turned-2021 Summer Olympics. It’s encouraging the freedom of expression in a country that’s become more and more conservative under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Plus the building, which looks like stacked timber, is just stunning.

Photo: OMM Inn

There’s one more attractive piece of OMM’s opening. It’s the OMM Inn, a boutique hotel that sits across from the museum. The two-story inn occupies another sleek building—half new construction, half restored Ottoman structure—that surrounds an intimate courtyard. The interior is very minimal with natural materials, neutral tones, and Japanese art. Concrete walls separate 15 spacious rooms. The premium ones feel like studio apartments with soft pillows, a curated selection of books, and even small espresso machines.

You don’t have to stay in your room to get your coffee fix, though. The all-day cafe offers Turkish coffee, Melez teas, and straight-from-the-oven pastries. Design books and magazines are littered throughout the industrial space. The restaurant serves pizzas during the day before switching to Turkish meze, wine, and raki at night. Its dining room has a homier vibe with nods to Meyhane culture. Both spaces flow into the art-filled courtyard.

At least they usually do. Right now, the inn and the museum are closed. Both places wait for Turkey and the rest of the world to start to return to normal. Or, at least, a new normal. Some changes are expected, even welcomed—especially in Eskişehir.

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