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Every city is unique, but there's nowhere akin to Istanbul. Straddling two continents, Istanbul (once Constantinople) has always been a place of vibrant fusion between east and west. The last stronghold of the Roman Empire, the beating heart of the Byzantine Empire, and the Ottoman capital, Istanbul's history is one of dramatic sieges and conquests, and of immense trading wealth. Much of Istanbul's glorious past is still visible and visitable. Amongst the famous domes of mosques and graceful Orthodox churches, visitors can see the Roman catacombs, Byzantine battlements, Ottoman palaces - some of which have now been converted into the best places to stay in Istanbul.
But Istanbul's golden days are certainly not behind it. This city is as lively as ever, packed with great restaurants, forward thinking galleries and 'hip' bars and clubs. It might be Istanbul's historic wonders which draw you here, but it might just be the modern wonders which draw you back.
Istanbul's position, on both sides of the Bosphorus, which is a narrow straight between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, can probably be held responsible for the city's importance and wealth, but also its desirability when it came to plunder.
For the modern day visitor it also means magical views and a number of waterfronts to explore. Most of Istanbul's most bucket-list-worthy sights are in the Sultanahmet District, but it's certainly getting out and about into Istanbul's other districts, and onto the water to explore further into the Golden Horn estuary.
Sultanahmet District: The Best Place to Stay in Istanbul for a City Break
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. As well as being home to a number of stylish boutique hotels, this is also where you'll find many of the best places to stay in Istanbul if you're on a budget.
- Sari Konak offers elegant and great value rooms, including triple suites for groups or families. Plus a roof terrace with fabulous views.
- The Empress Zoe is in an excellent spot, and effortlessly combines period style with modern comforts. And there's the added bonus of a pretty garden for relaxing in.
- The Seven Hills Hotel boasts eighteen rooms and suites decorated in Ottoman style. The main draw is the incredible roof top restaurant with breathtaking views and great seafood.
Most of Istanbul's luxury hotels are located on the shores of the Bosphorus, across the Golden Horn from the historic centre.
- Çirağan Palace Kempinski has arguably the most stunning pool terrace in town, plus well regarded restaurants and a top notch spa.
- Hotel Les Ottomans is a must for those who love over the top luxury. The pool terrace is lavish and the rooms make you feel like a Sultan or Sultana.
The Business District: For Istanbul's Best Design Hotels
Close to Taksim, the previously slightly seedy inner-city areas around Beyoglu and Cihangir are undergoing something of a renaissance, with new bars, clubs, restaurants. For hipsters it is easily one of the best places to stay in Istanbul.
- The Hotel Witt Istanbul Suites is a must for the design conscious; offering sleek modern lines and minimalist interiors.
- The Ritz Carlton offers top notch facilities aimed at both the business and leisure traveller. Great spa and pool, plus a range of bars and restaurants.
For those on a budget
Many of the best places to stay in Istanbul might appear to be fairly top end in terms of pricing, but there are still a sizable chunk of properties that are great value, whilst not scrimping on service. Our top picks are:
- Hotel Sari Konak - perfectly situated for seeing the sights in Sultanahmet, and a snip with comfortable rooms from only £66 per night B&B.
- HHK boasts a swimming pool & roof top terrace bar with great views over the city. Here doubles start from just £75 per night.B&B.
- Portus House is a stylish guesthouse close to the Bosphorus. If you don't mind sharing a bathroom, you can pick up a double room for only £49 per night B&B.
Best Hotels in Istanbul
Hotel Nomade 16 rooms from $47Istanbul (Ticarethane Sokak 15,)
Recently renovated in modern Turkish design and an unbeatable location. Superb rooftop bar-terrace where fantastic sea views can be enjoyed. Well designed uncluttered rooms with wall-hung killim rugs and traditional colours. An excellent base for exploring and reasonable rates too.Value chic - Very reasonable rates for beautiful hotel with interiors by French designer Dan Beranger, right in the heart of the old city.Sights nearby - Just a few steps from the Old City's main monuments including the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.Local markets - Spend your day haggling for goodies at the nearby Grand Bazaar.Full of character
Garden House Hotel 24 rooms from $51Istanbul (Mehmet Pasa Sokak 11/13)
A friendly oasis offering four-star comfort in the heart of the old town. Enjoy breakfast in the lovely garden courtyard and al fresco dining in the Turkish restaurant. Elegant rooms feature polished wood floors, kilims and wooden furniture. A real steal in a great location.Romantic Break - This 19th century Ottoman Mansion is ideal for a romantic getaway, with luxorious rooms and a charming leafy garden.Local markets - Get lost in the nearby Grand Bazaar, an ideal spot for picking up bargains to bring home.Sights nearby - This central hotel is just five minutes from Hagia Sophia and the majestic Blue Mosque.Full of character
Hotel Sari Konak 23 rooms from $56Istanbul (Sultanahmet)
An elegant base for exploring the sights of Sultanahmet. Fantastic views over the city and sea from the roof top terrace. Rooms festure parquet floors and cream furnishings dotted with Turkish artifacts. The triple suites are ideal for groups or families.Value chic - Great value for this chic and central hotel in the historic Sultanahmet district with roofterrace views of the Blue Mosque.Families - A perfect base for families, the suites can accomodate up to four people and boast wonderful views of the Marmara Sea.Local markets - Test out your haggling skills in the Grand Bazaar, an ideal spot to pick up presents.Sights nearby - This central hotel is walking distance from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.Recommended by - Frommers
Portus House Istanbul 10 rooms from $62Istanbul (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.Value chicSights nearby - Within walking distance of both Sultanahmet and TaksimViews - Great views from hotelLocal markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - Tablet
Mama Shelter 81 rooms from $72Istanbul (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.Groups - Triple rooms.Value chicCity StyleFamiliesRecommended by - CN Traveller
Empress Zoe 26 rooms from $73Istanbul (Akbiyik Caddesi 34110)
Well designed combination of period style and modern facilities in this Ottoman house and adjoining 15th-century Hammam. Attractively furnished rooms with antiques, Turkish rugs, wall-hangings and Islamic folk art. An ‘archaeological garden’ for relaxing in. A tranquil crashpad in central Istanbul.Hideaway - A quaint hideaway right in the city centre with stylish rooms, a lovely rooftop terrace and a tranquil leafy garden.Local markets - Explore the warren alleyways of the Grand Bazaar and discover its hidden jems.Sights nearby - Close to all the main sights including the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace.Full of characterRecommended by - Frommers, Fodors
Ansen Suites 10 rooms from $78Istanbul (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.City StyleSights nearby - Many sites accessible on foot including the Istanbul Modern Art MuseumLocal markets - A short walk from the Fish MarketRecommended by - I Escape
Galata Antique Hotel 22 rooms from $104Istanbul (Tunel)
Luxury hotel in historic 19th century Neo-Renaissance mansion. Elegant rooms have funky individual decor, high ceilings, marble bathrooms and double glazed windows. Centrally located in city, within walking distance of sights including Galata Tower and Taksim Square. Roof terrace with city views.Sights nearby - Centrally located, within walking distance to Galata Tower, Taksim Square, Museum of Modern Arts, Hagia TriadaViews - Great views from hotelLocal markets - Good for local colour.Great walks - Good for walkers.
Lush Hotel 44 rooms from $105Istanbul (No:12 Taksim)
Fun hotel in the heart of Taksim in Istanbul. Rooms modern and contemporary, with individual decor, free wifi, air conditioning and private balconies. Centrally located close to bars, restaurants and historical sites. Hip and stylish. Ideal for a city weekend break.Sights nearby - Including Blue Mosque and Basilica CisternLocal markets - Good for local colour.Great walks - Good for walkers.
SuB Hotel 18 rooms from $93Istanbul
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.City StyleFamiliesSights nearby - Located in the Karakoy district, close to many attractionsFull of characterRecommended by - Tablet
HHK 21 rooms from $94Istanbul (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.Views - Many rooms have great Bosphorus viewsValue chicSights nearby - Within walking distance of many attractions including the Grand Bazaar and Galata TowerSwimming Pool - Outdoor rooftop poolRecommended by - Tablet
Seven Hills Hotel 18 rooms from $97Istanbul (Sultanahmet)
Boutique hotel located in Sultanahmet, with a spectacular and unique panorama view from its roof top restaurant. Chic rooms in Ottoman style decor and friendly staff ensure great value for money. Ideally situated to explore Istanbul.Value chic - A charming boutique with elegant suites and a rooftop terrace overlooking the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.Local markets - Just a 15 minute walk from the Grand Bazaar where you can pick up any number of things.Sights nearby - Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are within walking distance of the hotel.Great walks - Take a sunset stroll along the coast and admire the fantastic views.
SuB Karakoy from $103Istanbul (Karaköy)
Uniquely furnished hotel which combines maritime design with a focus on comfort. Located between the old and new cities of Istanbul, allowing for easy forays into both sides of Turkey's capital. Full Turkish breakfast brought to your room, where anti-stress mattresses and LED TV come as standard.Quirky - Nautical theme.Designer - Uniquely designed interiors.Sights nearby - Well located for major sights.
Hammamhane 14 rooms from $130Istanbul (Beyoglu)
Nestled in Cukurcuma, 'the Soho of Istanbul', Hammamhane is a renovated apartment-hotel. All rooms are uniquely designed with an eye to contrasting traditional and contemporary styles. Exposed brickwork is the backdrop to colourful yet clean furniture. All studio units boast fully equipped kitchens.Sights nearby - The Museum of Innocence and Istanbul Modern are within a 10 minute walkLocal markets - The Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar are within a few kilometres
The House Hotel Galatasaray 20 rooms from $141Istanbul (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.City StyleLocal markets - Good for local colour.Sights nearby - Well located for major sights.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet, I Escape, CN Traveller
Adahan 40 rooms from $146Istanbul (Mesrutiyet Cad, Asmalimescit, Beyoglu)
Housed on the top floor of a grand 1874 building, with a roof terrace and restaurant with views over the Galata District. This charming hotel has been restored maintaining its high ceilings, wooden floors & attractive period furniture together with the modern necessities to create an excellent hotelRestaurant - Breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Cachi Lokanta roof top bar/resturant with a terrace, which serves Turkish cuisineSuites - Sunny light standard rooms and suites with architectural details, frescos, vaulted ceilings and marble bathroomsHistoric - The nighbourhood was once the base for European merchants mainly from Genoa and VeniceViews - Great views across the city from the rooftop bar restaurant
Vault Karakoy 63 rooms from $150Istanbul (Beyoglu)
A beautifully restored, luxury hotel with a slick, modern decor inspired by the original bank interior. Bedrooms are elegant with high ceilings and opulent details. The hotel boasts a swanky bar serving refined cocktails, a spa and fitness suite. Great location for exploring the city.Sights nearby - Sultan Ahmed MosqueLocal markets - The Spice MarketViews - Great views from hotelSpaRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Small Luxury Hotels
The Sofa Nisantasi 82 rooms from $157Istanbul (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.City StyleSpa - Detox and wellness centre offering a wide range of treatmentsSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorSights nearby - Well located for major sights.Recommended by - I Escape, Tablet, CN Traveller
The House Hotel Bosphorus 26 rooms from $157Istanbul (Ortaköy)
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.Village - Ortakoy is an old fishing village outside Istanbul.Views - Stunning views over the Bosphorous.Lively - Hip and happening.Local markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - Tablet, Mr & Mrs Smith
Amira Hotel 35 rooms from $166Istanbul (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.FamiliesCity StyleSights nearby - Close to all major attractions including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi PalaceViews - Great views from hotelRecommended by - Tablet
The House Hotel Nisantasi 44 rooms from $166Istanbul (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.City Style - A sophisticated hotel in an upscale neighbourhood.Sights nearby - Sultanahmet, the historic heart of Old Istanbul.Local markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - Tablet, I Escape, CN Traveller, Mr & Mrs Smith
Tomtom suites 20 rooms from $168Istanbul (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.City StyleDesigner - Uniquely designed interiors.Sights nearby - Well located for major sights.Local markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - Tablet, CN Traveller, Small Luxury Hotels
The Marti Hotel 270 rooms from $172Istanbul (Taksim)
Set just back from Taksim Square in the heart of bustling Istanbul, this quiet and cool oasis blends contemporary interiors with understated Ottoman opulence. Welcoming staff and first class service. Magnificent roof terrace with stunning views from the 11th floor. Luxurious spa and two restaurantsRestaurant - Quad Restaurant & Bar serves Middle Easterm staples and Asian fast food and the Brasserie for seafood linguineSuites - Thirty-one suites with Turkish marble steam bathrooms, damask fabrics, velevet throws and gilded cornonetsRoof terrace - Dazzling roof terrace with hot tub, bar and panoramic views of the cityViews - Great views from hotel
Gezi Hotel Bosphorus from $175Istanbul (No 34 Taksim)
An area of tranquillity in an otherwise busy part of Istanbul, this hotel offers everything needed for a break from the hectic city. Private garden, gym and traditional massage facilities offer a sense of calm, complimented by the Italian restaurant and bar. The hotel is almost emission free.Massage - Traditional Turkish massages availableEco - Hotel close to zero emissionsLocal markets - Istanbul bazaarsViews - Stunning views of the Bosphorus.
Ayasofya Konaklari 64 rooms from $177Istanbul (Sultanahmet)
A collection of historic buildings, reminiscent 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 terrace bar.City Style - Located next to the ancient walls of the Hippodome Splendon it is friendly and safe place to stay in the Old City.Local markets - For a spot of holiday shopping check out the vibrant and colourful Grand Bazaar.Sights nearby - Take a walking tour of the many beautiful Mosques that litter the city.Great walks - Head down to Emirgan Park for a breath of fresh air.Recommended by - Frommers
W Istanbul 134 rooms from $181Istanbul (Beşiktaş)
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.Lively - The hotel is a nightlife hotspot for some of Istanbul's most glamourous.City StyleSights nearby - Walking distance of Galata Tower and Taksim SquareSpa - W day spaRecommended by - CN Traveller
Sumahan on the Water 24 rooms from $183Istanbul (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.Views - Wonderful views across the BosphorusOutstanding location - Magical waterfront views.LuxuryCity StyleRecommended by - Tablet, I Escape, CN Traveller
Hotel Witt Istanbul Suites 18 rooms from $204Istanbul (Cihangir)
A sophisticated and contemporary hotel in Istanbul's arty Beyoglu district. 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. Well situated for getting around the city.Hideaway - The perfect bolthole in the city, with plenty of space, a well equipped kitchenette and outstanding one to one service.City Style - A chic designer hotel, dripping style from its avant-garde lofts, in Istanbul's uber trendy artists quarter, Beyoglu.Sailing - Get a totally new prespective and view the city by boat from the river Bosphorus.Local markets - Search for deals in the Modern Bazaar, a perfect spot for picking up treasures.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Tablet, Kiwi Collection
A'jia Hotel 16 rooms from $209Istanbul
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.LuxuryViews - Great views from hotelRomantic BreakCity StyleRecommended by - Tablet, I Escape, Mr & Mrs Smith, CN Traveller
Pera Palace hotel 99 rooms from $214Istanbul (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.Foodies - Excellent selection of restaurants.City StyleSights nearby - Situated in the Beyoglu district, close to many major attractions.Swimming Pool - Jet streamed swimming pool
Çirağan Palace Kempinski 313 rooms from $230Istanbul (Yildiz Mh.)
Pampering luxury in the former palace of Ottoman Sultans on the banks of the Bosphorus. Lavish interiors are reminiscent of glamour from a bygone era. Award winning restaurants, huge pool terrace, great spa, and celestial views over the Bosphorous. A wonderfully romantic destination.Romantic Break - A truly indulgent stay- palatial suites, sensuous fabrics, award winning cuisine, and spoiling spa treatments.Total relaxation - Spend days being scrubbed, wrapped and rubbed in the spa or lounging by the pool with a cocktail.Sights nearby - Dolmabahce Palace is 10 minutes away by car and the Bosphorus Bridge is nearby taking you to the historic part of the city.Local markets - Make a trip to the Main Bazaar and try out your haggling skills.Recommended by - Fodors, Frommers, Kiwi Collection
Georges Hotel Galata 20 rooms from $260Istanbul (Beyoğlu)
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.Views - Great views from hotelLuxuryCity StyleFoodies
The Ritz-Carlton Istanbul 243 rooms from $280Istanbul (Askerocagi Caddesi 15)
An impressive luxury 5* hotel with stunning views of the Bosphorus. Elegant contemporary rooms with large windows, crisp linen, antique furniture and traditional artworks. Enjoy the award-winning spa, rooftop pool and wide selection of bars and restaurants. Ideal for business or pleasure.Spa breaks - Nine beautifully designed treatment rooms and a hammam modelled on the 16th Century Turkish baths of Roxelana.City Style - Ottoman style glamour meets modern luxury in this elegant hotel overlooking the Bosphorus Straits.Local markets - Search for treasures in the buzzing Grand Bazaar, make sure you bring your bargaining hat!Sights nearby - The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace are just across the straits.Recommended by - Frommers, Kiwi Collection
Four Seasons Hotel Sultanahmet 65 rooms from $330Istanbul (Sultanahmet-Eminönü)
Ottoman style grandeur in this converted prison. Elegant rooms with large windows, soft hues and antique furniture overlook the historic part of the city. A small but indulgent spa. Dine on phenomenal cuisine in the pretty courtyard. A luxurious choice ideally placed to explore the city.Local exploring - Right in the heart of the most historic part of the city, with views over the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, both just steps away.City Style - An elegantly restored neo-classic Turkish prison, boasting a perfect blend of East and West, contemporary and tradition.Sailing - Discover Istanbul from the waters on a cruise on the Bosphorus, for added romance try a sunset cruise.Sights nearby - Close to many of the most famous historic sites including the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque.Recommended by - Fodors, Frommers, Kiwi Collection
Hotel les Ottomans 10 rooms from $835Istanbul (Beşiktaş)
Pure opulence in this gorgeous riverside property. The ultimate place for romance and indulgence. Rooms feature rich coloured fabrics and walls and mix modern luxuries with traditional artifacts. A world renowned spa, private boats, elegant dining spaces and a glorious pool. A truly spoiling stay.City Style - A opulent hotel oozing elegance in an 18th-century Pasha's mansion- expect intricate ceilings, crown mouldings, and chandeliers.Spa breaks - Housing the famed Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa with an extensive therapy list, hamman and a number of pools.Sights nearby - Close to many of Istanbul's most famed sights including the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace.Local markets - Explore the exciting warren alleyways of the Main Bazaar and haggle for a steal.Recommended by - Frommers, Kiwi Collection, Small Luxury Hotels