Istanbul is unique. It’s the only city in the world that straddles two continents. Its history stretches back at least 2,500 years, embracing three great empires (Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman), not to mention the 13th-century interlude of the ‘Latin Empire’, when a gang of Frankish barons decided to call off the Fourth Crusade to the Holy Land and conquer Constantinople (as it then was) instead.
As a result, its historic core is literally littered with ancient relics: Roman catacombs, Byzantine battlements, Ottoman palaces (a good many of which have been converted into some of the best places to stay in Istanbul) and the graceful domes of mosques and Orthodox churches.
The city owes all this to its location, athwart the Bosphorus straits and overlooking the natural harbour of the Golden Horn. It was a prosperous entrepôt even before Constantine the Great chose it as the new capital of the Roman Empire in 330AD, and after that it never looked back.
Most visitors head immediately for the Sultanahmet district, where the city’s iconic sights – the 6th-century Aya Sofya cathedral, the great mosques, Topkapi Palace – cluster within walking distance of each other. This is where you’ll find most of the best places to stay in Istanbul for those on a budget or looking for mid-range accommodation, plus one or two stylish boutique hotels.
If you want a pool, though, you’ll have to seek out one of the city’s luxury hotels, and most of these are located on the shores of the Bosphorus and across the Golden Horn from the historic centre, where Taksim Meydani (Taksim Square) is the nucleus of the modern business district.
Close to Taksim, the previously slightly seedy inner-city areas around Beyoglu and Cihangir are also undergoing something of a renaissance, with new bars, clubs, restaurants and some of the best places to stay in Istanbul.
Browse our list of the best places to stay in Istanbul and start to plan your visit.
A comfortable base for exploring the sights of Sultanahmet with fantastic views over the city and sea from the roof top terrace cafe. Elegant rooms with parquet floors and cream furnishings. The triple suites are ideal for groups or families.
Istanbul (Hayriye Hanım Sk,)
A quiet hotel in a traditional Turkish neighbourhood. Rooms are elegant with creamy furnishings. Swimming pool, restaurant, and roof top terrace bar. A charming spot and great value too.
Istanbul (Mumhane Cd No:31)
A small simple guesthouse close to the Bosphorus. Charming contemporary rooms have white walls, exposed brickwork and splashes of colour. A great location and excellent value.
Istanbul (Ş. Hüseyin Ay Sk No:50)
A highly modern hotel designed for the 21st century visitor, whether travelling alone, as a couple, in a group or as a family. Chic contemporary white rooms with all the mod cons. Meeting spaces, restaurant, bar and terrace. Excellent value too.
Istanbul (Meşrutiyet Cd No:70)
A sophisticated collection of apartments with kitchenettes in a bustling area of Istanbul. Chic contemporary suites have parquet floors, quirky interior design, all the mod cons and stand alone bath tubs. A stylish spot for couples and families.
A gorgeous have of peace and tranquility in a quiet neighbourhood. Chic, contemporary, and understated living space filled with natural light, wooden floors, characterful pieces of furniture. Rooms and connecting rooms are spacious and modern. A unique spot with no frills attached.
Istanbul (Ticarethane Sokak 15,)
Recently renovated comfortable rooms and an unbeatable location at an affordable price - plus superb rooftop bar-terrace where delicious breakfasts and fantastic sea views can be enjoyed. Well designed uncluttered rooms with wall-hung killim rugs and traditional colours.
Istanbul (Akbiyik Caddesi 34110)
Well located combination of period style and modern facilities. Adjoining Ottoman houses and a 15th-century hammam. Attractively furnished rooms with antiques, Turkish rugs, wallhangings and Islamic folk art. Also, an ‘archaeological garden’ for relaxing in.
A collection of historic buildings, redolent of the city’s Ottoman past, converted to a stylish hotel next door to Aya Sofya. Picturesque painted wooden houses each with 10 en-suite rooms and apartments in Ottoman style - maroon velvet, gilt and ornate furniture. A lovely garden too.
Istanbul (Mehmet Pasa Sokak 11/13)
Friendly oasis offering four-star comfort with a surprisingly affordable price tag in the heart of the old town. A lovely garden courtyard and breakfast area. Rooms with polished wood floors, kilims and wooden furniture. A real steal in a great location.
Istanbul (Bostanbaşı Cd No:19)
A striking Ottoman townhouse with enormous suites. Rooms and suites have high ceilings, chandeliers, floor to ceiling windows, parquet floors and creamy furnishings. Lovely lounge-bar-restaurant. A stylish, romantic, and family friendly spot in the Beyoglu district.
Istanbul (Teşvikiye Fırın Sk No:41)
A large and impressive art hotel with cutting edge modern design. Enormous rooms and suites have all the mod cons, contemporary furnishings, balconies, and lots of natural light. Excellent restaurant, spa, and art gallery. Very stylish, very central.
A sophisticated townhouse hotel in a fishing village outside Istanbul. Chic spacious rooms and suites in creams and ochres with stunning views over the Bosphorous. Restaurant, gym, and lots to do. Stylish and family friendly.
Istanbul (Mustafa Paşa Sk No:43)
A small stylish hotel with an excellent restaurant and spa in the heart of the Sultanahmet. Contemporary rooms and family rooms have parquet floors, plush furnishings, and balconies. An excellent restaurant and terrace with spectacular views.
Istanbul (Abdi İpekçi St No:34)
A super sophisticated hotel in Istanbul's most upmarket neighbourhood. Rooms and suites of epic proportions are sultry and sophisticated. Floor to ceiling windows, neutral tones, fireplaces, all the mod cons. Gym, meeting rooms, massage. Extremely sleek.
Istanbul (Tomtom Kaptan Sk No:18)
A superbly renovated former convent with chic, but understated rooms and suites. Contemporary rooms and suites have lots of natural light, subtle tones, parquet floors and all the mod cons. Delightful bistro, roof top terrace, and minutes from the best shopping. Stylish, not pretentious.
One of Istanbul's more lively and stylish hotels. Chic contemporary design throughout. Rooms and suites some with four poster beds have all the mod cons, hot tubs, balconies. Excellent restaurant, cabana style terrace, and a bar that attracts party goers.
Istanbul (Kuleli Cd No:51)
Designer chic loft suites in a stunning location overlooking the Bosphorus. Loft-style suites have all the mod cons, crisp clean lines, fireplaces, polished wood floors, and kilim rugs. Excellent restaurant, terrace, and lots to do. Luxurious, romantic, and family friendly.
Modern all-suite hotel in a newly trendy part of the city. Loft-style suites with wooden floors and large open spaces - ideal for the design conscious. Each room has a mini kitchen and microwave. Fantastic roof top sunbathing terrace.
Special boutique hotel located right at the heart of Sultanahmet. It enjoys a spectacular and unique panorama from its excellent roof top restaurant - in fact nominated as the best hotel and restaurant by the New York Times. Chic rooms and suites in Ottoman style decor. Stunning.
A beautiful white mansion on the water's edge. Sumptuous elegant rooms and suites in creams with all the mod cons and balconies. Wonderful riverside restaurant and bar. Easy access to all attractions. Romantic, gourmet, family friendly.
Istanbul (Meşrutiyet Cd No:98)
A grand hotel with traditional opulent interiors and sophisticated rooms and suites. Three restaurants to choose from, extensive spa, and gorgeous terraces. A stylish choice filled with historic grandeur.
A stunning hotel that combines modern design and timeless glamour. Stylish cosmopolitan rooms have parquet floors, elegant furniture, lots of natural light, marble bathrooms and giant balconies. Fantastic French restaurant and terrace. A very special hotel.
Istanbul (Askerocagi Caddesi 15)
Excellent leisure facilities, a good location in the newer part of the city, and some super-value special deals for visitors. Elegant contemporary rooms with excellent views over the Bosphorous, superb spa and pool, wide selection of bars and restaurants. Great for the business and pleasure.
Istanbul (Yildiz Mh.)
Pampering luxury in the former palace of Ottoman Sultans on the banks of the Bosphorus. Excellent seaside restaurant, huge pool terrace, highly regarded restaurants, great spa, and celestial views over the Bosphorous. A cocoon for sybarites.
Superb food with views to match, exceptional service and rooms that are impossible to leave. Fabulous views from the roof top terrace of the minarets of Sultanahmet. Understatedly elegant rooms in neutral tones with private balconies. The restaurant serves the best modern Turkish cuisine.
Over-the-top opulence, extreme luxury, great views and the most expensive rooms in town. The ultimate place for romance and indulgence. Excellent food and terraces overhanging the sea to dine on, beautiful pool terrace, lavish rooms. A hotel fit for a Sultan and his Sultana.