Istanbul is a city of two halves quite literally. Straddling two continents, with one foot in Europe, the other in Asia, its history stretches back some 2500 years. Founded originally as Byzantium, it quickly became one of the most important cities in the world.
Split by the Bosphorus which links the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea, it has always been important to trade; indeed it holds a highly strategic position along the infamous Silk Road.
Having been part of three different empires over the years there are so many ancient things to see here, that it is difficult to know where to start. Does one opt for the Roman Catacombs, the Byzantine battlements or the grand Ottoman palaces? Not to mention the myriad of mosques and orthodox churches or the famous Grand Bazaar for that matter!
Our selection of the best Istanbul hotels covers the whole gamut from top notch, no holes barred luxury overlooking the Bosphorus to the best bargains in town where a cheap price tag does not mean compromising on quality, character or service.
If you’re looking for some serious luxury and have deep pockets to match, then our selection of the best Istanbul hotels for pure luxury can certainly deliver.
Hotel Les Ottomans is the place to be if you want to unleash your inner Sultan or Sultana. A former 18th century seaside mansion on the banks of the Bosphorus, it is the ultimate place for romance and indulgence and certainly offers the most expensive rooms in town.
However if you’re prepared to shell out, you’ll be rewarded with beautifully decorated suites, in a sort of Ottoman Empire meets Feng Sui kind of way. Think gold paintwork, parquet flooring, Venetian-like velvet walls, Iznik tiles, Turkish works of art and much more. Food too does not disappoint and can be taken on a stunning terrace with views to die for.
If that all seems a bit over the top, then perhaps the Çirağan Palace Kempinski will do the trick. Also overlooking the Bosphorus, this luxury hotel has been crafted from the Ottoman Sultan’s Palace.
It’s a large property and whilst part of a chain, it ticks all the boxes in terms of quality and service. Offering some of the most luxurious accommodation in the city, it can also boast the most enormous pool terrace, plus four restaurants including Tuğra, which has a well earned reputation for offering a whole new perspective on fine Turkish food.
The Ritz Carlton Istanbul can’t compete with our first two picks in terms of location, but it offers top-notch facilities including a rather fabulous spa and indoor pool, an array of bars and restaurants, seamless service and gorgeous rooms.
It is situated in the newer part of the city and would be a great choice for a winter city break, when all that lounging on terraces with views or dining under the stars does not figure!
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.
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.
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.
For those whose wallets will not stretch to the luxuries described above, or even struggle to reach the mid range selection, do not worry. The best Istanbul hotels if you’re feeling a bit strapped for cash do not disappoint in terms of location or even quality and character.
Our first choice would have to be the Hotel Sari Konak, a brilliant find in the heart of Sultanahmet. On the exterior it's all old Ottoman townhouse, whilst inside you can expect charming, simply decorated bedrooms with traditional wooden floors.
There is a charming courtyard, plus a café bar on the roof terrace, which is a must on a summers evening. It’s perfect if sightseeing is your thing – all the major attractions including the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace are easily accessible on foot.
Another good option is the Nomade Hotel. This recently renovated hotel offers an unbeatable location. Well designed rooms feature wall hung kilim rugs and traditional colours. But best of all is the roof top bar terrace with its blue canvas parasols and fabulous unfettered views across the city to the sea.
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 (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.
When selecting the best Istanbul hotels in terms of location there are so many to choose from, as the majority of the quality accommodation seems to be packed into the Sultanahmet district. However if push came to shove these are the ones we’d pick.
The Empress Zoe is a boutique hotel which was created from a collection of old Ottoman townhouses. Centred upon a private archaeological garden which borders the ruins of an ancient 15th century hammam, the properties have been restored to create a twenty five bedroomed hotel that is brimming with period features alongside all the mod cons you need.
Stumble from this delightful cocoon and you can be at any of the major sights in minutes. There is no restaurant, but with the superb location also comes easy access to any number of great eateries.
The Garden House would be another pick. It is located at the corner of the historic Sokullu Mehmetpasa Mosque, only minutes from Sultanahmet Square, in the heart of the Old City. So only a stone’s throw from the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar and Topkapi Palace.
Unassuming from the outside, don’t be put off. The Garden house comes well recommended and offers a mixture of both contemporary and traditional accommodation, plus a wonderful garden and courtyard where breakfast is served and which turns into a café restaurant for lunch and dinner.
Ayasofya Konaklari is yet another example of several old Ottoman houses which have been converted into a stylish hotel. The individual houses remain separate and each offers about 10 bedrooms and apartments, which are great for families or groups of friends.
The décor here is 19th century Ottoman style, so there’s plenty of rich velvets, gilding and ornate wooden furniture. Again located in Sultanahmet, the Ayasofia Konaklari houses are literally in the shadow of Hagia Sophia and if you opt for a room overlooking the narrow cobbled street, you’ll get a great view!
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.
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.
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.
If you want to select the best Istanbul hotels with roof terraces, it can be a daunting prospect as there are so many that boast the best view in town. Plus the question of the best view in town can be a contentious subject – is it a view of the Bosphorus, or do you prefer to look over historic mosques and palaces?
Our first choice is the Hotel Witt Istanbul Suites. As the name suggests, this all suite affair is located in a much newer area than the rest of our selection. However don’t let that dissuade you; Chihangir is close to the business district but there are an ever increasing number of trendy bars, boutiques and restaurants popping up.
The suites here have been kitted out with the design conscious in mind – they’re all chrome and leather minimalism and feel like loft apartments. Book one of the penthouse rooms and you’ll bag one of those all important roof terraces, which are kitted out with deck chairs, sun shades and awesome city views.
The Seven Hills Hotel is not so elitist; everyone can use the terrace here! In fact it doubles as their seafood restaurant and comes very well recommended - not just for the stunning panoramic views over the Bosphorus, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
The property’s eighteen bedrooms are Ottoman in style, but with all the modern conveniences that we are so used to including wifi and air conditioning.
Our final pick of Istanbul hotels with great roof terraces would have to be the Four Seasons Sultanahmet. Although part of the Four Seasons chain, this property is a real gem with individually designed bedrooms and a restaurant that is rumoured to serve the best Turkish food in the world!
Converted from an old prison in the heart of the old town it is full of atmosphere and is just steps from all the best sights. As for the roof terrace – get yourself a drink and enjoy stunning sunsets and fabulous views over the minarets of the neighbourhood.
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.
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.
Soak up the scenery and go with the flow in this extraordinary city that is home to so many different cultures, styles and quite simply things to see! From our selection of the best Istanbul hotels, you will hopefully find the ideal resting place for your voyage of discovery.
For more hotels in Turkey, check out our Ultimate Guide.comments powered by Disqus