Intimate eateries, couples-friendly spa treatments, dusky sunsets across the water, gazing over the twinkling cityscape… Whether you’re cruising across the Bosphorus or walking hand in hand through its twisting streets, Istanbul exudes romance, so we’ve found eight atmospheric hotels for you to stay in.
What makes a hotel romantic? Is it couples’ spa therapies, a bathtub for two with a vista to die for or perhaps soundproof walls? In intimate Istanbul, you’ll find all these qualities and more in converted Ottoman palaces, cosy boutique guest houses and even an old cigar factory. Whether you’re on your honeymoon or a loved-up city break, sparks are sure to fly at these eight romantic hotels in Istanbul.
How could a hotel with such a name not sit right at the top of this list? With an enviable location in the old town’s Sirkeci quarter, Romance Istanbul Hotel is an exercise in old-fashioned over-the-top opulence. Each of the 39 rooms has been inspired by an Ottoman sultan’s talismanic shirt – replicas of the Topkapi Palace’s 16th-century collection hang in many of the rooms – and there’s plenty of gilded furniture, satin sheets, glitzy pendant lighting and private balconies. The Olive Anatolian Restaurant on the rooftop of its sister hotel, Yasmak Sultan, supplies views of Hagia Sophia, while the in-house Allure Spa offers a blissful range of massage therapies, a traditional Turkish hammam, an invigorating sauna, a fitness centre with a Jacuzzi and a lap pool with a wave machine. There’s even a bridal bath hammam package to pamper the bride before her big day. Reserve the massive Romance Suite for a special occasion.
Not to be confused with Romance Istanbul Hotel, Romantic Hotel Istanbul is another lair of luxury that lovers will adore. It’s situated below the Blue Mosque near the Sultanahmet seaside, and you can’t miss this stone mansion’s hot-pink facade blanketed in blooming purple flowers – an introduction to the floral theme that runs throughout the property. All nine rooms feature ornate, traditional decor – heavy drapes, velvet bedheads, period furniture and the like – and there’s a terrace café bar peering over the Marmara Sea. The palatial Dolmabahçe Suite takes those vistas to another level, with a glimpse of the water from your pillow and a private balcony.
This five star hotel is literally a palace. Constructed on the Beşiktaş waterfront by Sultan Abdülâziz during the 1860s, Çırağan Palace fell into ruin in the 20th century before it was restored to all its Baroque glory by the Kempinski hotel group in the new millennium. The result is one of Istanbul’s most mesmerising luxury hotels, with 310 extravagant rooms and suites occupying this gorgeous marble palace. Ciragan Palace Kempinski has six mouthwatering food and drink options on the menu, including Laledan in the palace gardens and fine-dining Tuğra on the first floor, plus an authentic Turkish bath and an al-fresco pool nestled against the shore of the Bosphorus. The jewel in this glistening crown is the lavish Sultan Suite, which is the ultimate in romance for those with deep pockets.
The Régie Company used to enjoy a lucrative monopoly over Turkey’s tobacco trade in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire, before a chic boutique hotel breathed new life into this 150-year-old tobacco factory and company headquarters. More moody than magnificent, the Régie’s 34 rooms celebrate the original texture of the building – the wooden floors, the patterned brick ceilings and the sunny arched windows – while adding cool contemporary decor, tiled private balconies, modern white bathrooms and atmospheric lighting. Only a block or two from the Eminönü ferry terminal on the historic peninsula, this intimate hotel also provides a gym, a sauna and the upscale Hayal Kahvesi restaurant.
The mere mention of the word ‘Hilton’ is enough to appease even the fussiest partner, and this DoubleTree franchise will not disappoint. Looming over the Kadıköy ferry docks, this glittering glass tower makes the most of its waterfront location with floor-to-ceiling windows in each of the 245 sleek rooms. The infinity pool at the rooftop bar, the intimate tables at the executive lounge and Doubles restaurant and the full-service on-site spa are all tailor-made for couples, while the suites with marble bathtubs overlooking the Bosphorus are a particularly romantic touch.
Since it was founded in 2000, Turkish luxury hotel chain Rixos has earned a stellar reputation for its swish properties across Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East. They moved into Beyoğlu in 2012 with this five-star property, infusing each of the 116 rooms with the elegant character of historic Pera – vintage furniture, traditional Turkish rugs and gilded finishes, plus a dazzling view of the Golden Horn. Dine in the clouds at rooftop restaurant Samdan 13 or tuck into a snack in the courtyard of Chapelle café, then pamper yourselves with a treatment at the Rixos Royal Spa, such as hot-stone therapy, a couples massage or a soak in a romantic bathtub decorated with flower petals.
With a series of flower-lined balconies covering the facade, the family-run Celal Sultan Hotel would seem more at home in Paris than in the most ancient quarter of Istanbul. But this Sultanahmet stay offers a little flavour of France in the shadow of the minarets belonging to Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, with a scenic cocktail bar and a terrace capitalising on the prime location. The 55 rooms are quaint and old-fashioned – this is the kind of place where your towels are folded into the shape of a swan by the attentive housekeeping staff – but represent great value for couples.
The Atik Paşa Konak retains all of the magic it had when this Ottoman mansion was first erected on the banks of the Bosphorus during the 19th century, lovingly restored for the new millennium by the Four Seasons group. This seaside palace features the breathtaking Aqua restaurant – which serves world-class Mediterranean food and magnificent views over the water – plus outdoor yoga sessions and a pop-up eatery during summer, three hammams and an excellent spa, as well as a heated outdoor pool featuring private cabanas and drinks service. The distinguished array of 170 rooms and suites shout luxury at every turn, and come with a price tag to match.