How do you want to relax after a long day of sightseeing in Turkey’s cultural capital? Beer in hand on a rooftop overlooking the Hagia Sophia? Or perhaps reclining in a deckchair at an Ottoman Empire palace on the Princes’ Islands. When it comes to hotels in Istanbul, you’re spoilt for choice.
Istanbul offers the best of worlds: European and Asian, traditional and modern, the bustling mainland and evergreen islands. The choices seem endless, from palaces on the shores of the Bosporus to hotels that were once frequented by Agatha Christie and Greta Garbo. Here are the best places to rest and relax in the city.
White House Istanbul
White House Istanbul combines old-world charm with modern luxury | Courtesy of White House Istanbul / Hotels.com
Located in the district of Sultanahmet and just a five-minute walk away from some of Istanbul’s top attractions, White House Istanbul combines old-world charm with modern luxury. This traditional hotel has 22 airy rooms decorated in hues of white and gold, and is known for its friendly staff. Enjoy a Turkish or international buffet breakfast at the Roof Garden, which offers views of the old city and the sparkling waters of the Bosporus.
This family-run hotel in Istanbul’s Beyazit district is within walking distance of the Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapı Palace. Established in 1986 and built in a former mansion, Niles Istanbul features 19th-century design elements throughout, including hand-painted ceiling decorations in the lobby inspired by the Ottoman era. The hotel has 29 standard rooms, eight junior suites and two duplex suites that have heated mahogany floors and private hammam-style Turkish baths. If you’re looking to explore the city’s most historic sites, this hotel is the perfect base.
Cross the Golden Horn and dive into the lively district of Beyoğlu, where modern restaurants, nightlife and shopping blend in with historical landmarks. Pera Palace has existed here since the 19th century, and is now a reminder of the past with its elegant tea salon and patisserie, stylish restaurant and Orient Bar. With a spa and an indoor pool, this five-star hotel is famous for its old-fashioned luxury and its many prominent guests, which have included Agatha Christie, Ernest Hemingway and Greta Garbo. Istanbul Modern, Pera Museum and numerous galleries are right around the corner.
Down the street from Pera Palace lies Soho House Istanbul, an extravagant hotel and members’ club that has 87 refined rooms of various sizes. It took Italian architect Giacomo Leoni nine years to complete in 1882; he imported marble and rosewood from his home country and hired famous artists to paint scenes of Greek mythology on the ceilings. This mansion was originally the home of a powerful Genoese merchant and shipbuilder, and later housed the US consulate. Today, the hotel is especially known for its celebrated Cowshed spa, which offers luxury hammam experiences; top-notch gym; and exclusive bars and lounges.
Adahan Istanbul is an eco-friendly hotel in the heart of the Galata district. This hotel collects and treats rainwater, and has solar panels on the roof that provide rooms with hot water. The hotel’s 40 rooms have breathable lime plaster walls, natural olive oil soaps and woven cotton sheets. Housed in a restored grand apartment building from 1874, and situated near the majestic Galata Tower, this hotel’s main attraction is its rooftop, which offers unrivalled views over the Golden Horn. The restaurant and bar, Cachi, serves traditional dishes from Anatolia and uses organic ingredients from small farms across the country.
The intimate side streets of Istanbul’s bohemian Çukurcuma neighbourhood are dotted with antique shops, design stores and charismatic cafés. The 18 high-ceilinged rooms of The Stay Galata Hotel are in a preserved 19th-century mansion that still has its original marble stairways and tile flooring. Enjoy a drink at the terrace bar and lounge overlooking the old city and Galata Tower. An exceptional blend of historical charm and modern minimalism, this hotel is ideal for stylish travellers curious to experience what the sophisticated residents of Galata love about life in this neighbourhood.
This hotel is walking distance from Bomontiada, a vibrant arts and culture complex. Once an Ottoman Empire beer factory, the complex is now home to a variety of restaurants and bars, as well as popular music venue Babylon. Visit the weekend vintage bazaar in Bomontiada, or wander along the fashionable streets of Nişantaşı and Beyoğlu. The 51 rooms and suites at The House Hotel Bomonti were designed by British interior design firm Conran and Partners, and exude the studio’s signature contemporary style – think concrete floors and walls and plenty of marble and timber.
A restored 17th-century palace, formerly home to sultans from the Ottoman era, Çırağan Palace Kempinski is now a world-class luxury hotel. This famous five-star establishment has 310 rooms. Located on the shores of the Bosporus Strait, it offers magnificent views of the Asian coast of the city. The outdoor infinity pool will make you feel as if you are floating on the Bosporus. With a luxury spa and butler service, the hotel’s exclusive facilities underline its unique history and heritage. It’s close to Dolmabahçe Palace and between the dynamic districts of Beşiktaş and Ortaköy, so there are plenty of opportunities for sightseeing and long strolls by the waterfront.
Just an hour’s ferry ride from Istanbul’s mainland, the Princes’ Islands make for a relaxing getaway. No cars are allowed, and this results in an eco-friendly, laid-back ambience far away from the city’s traffic. On the biggest island, Büyükada, the Splendid Palace instantly grabs attention with its silver domes and nostalgic red shutters. Treat yourself to a vacation here and enjoy the hotel’s outdoor swimming pool, garden, restaurant, bar and café. When it’s time to retire, head back to one of the 60 rooms or nine suites, some of which have magnificent views of the azure Marmara Sea.