The Best Hotels in Istanbul, Turkey

Soho House is a new addition to the luxury hotel circuit in Istanbul
Soho House is a new addition to the luxury hotel circuit in Istanbul | © Soho House Istanbul
Photo of Emilie Kleding Rasmussen
Journalist2 March 2021

Cruise along the glittering Bosphorus, buy spices in the Grand Bazaar and marvel at the 1,500 year old Hagia Sophia while staying in these top hotels in Istanbul.

Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, offers the best of worlds: European and Asian, traditional and modern, the bustling mainland and evergreen islands. When it comes to hotels, the choices seem endless – from riverfront palaces to hotels once frequented by Agatha Christie and Greta Garbo. Here are the best places to stay in the ancient city.

Poem Hotel

Budget Hotel
Sitting in the shadow of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, each of the Poem Hotel’s 20 Ottoman-style rooms is named after an artist with their own special connection to Istanbul, from Audrey Hepburn to Charlie Chaplin and Hans Christian Andersen. Artworks of those figures hang above the beds. It’s almost enough to draw your attention away from the views of the Marmara Sea, which are even better from the rooftop terrace where dinner and drinks are served at sunset.
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Celine Hotel

Boutique Hotel
Courtyard restaurant and bar at Celine Hotel
Courtesy of Celine Hotel /
On the other side of Sultanahmet Square lies a boutique hotel that oozes history. The Celine is hidden on a sleepy side street that used to house the elite Peyks contingent of the Ottoman army. 14 boutique rooms capture the atmosphere of their ancient surroundings, decorated with marble floors, carved wooden bedheads and Ottoman plasterwork on the roof. Breakfast is served in the bright covered courtyard each morning.
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The Magnaura Palace Hotel

Hotel, Luxury
4.6/5 (177 Reviews)
From $82 Per night per room
Hugging the corner of a cobblestone street near the subterranean ruins that give this place its name, this Sultanahmet stay is another appealing option. While Parisian cafe tables blanket the footpath on the ground floor, the Magnaura Palace Hotel’s upper three levels are filled by luxury rooms, decorated with technicolour Turkish textiles and mahogany furniture. Many have views from their juliette balconies of the Sultan Ahmed minarets, one of the grandest mosques in Istanbul.
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Ajwa Hotel Sultanahmet

Ajwa Hotel Sultanahmet is situated roughly halfway between the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaa
Ajwa Hotel Sultanahmet is situated roughly halfway between the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaa | Courtesy of Ajwa Hotel Sultanahmet /
While many of Sultanahmet’s top hotels are housed inside centuries-old buildings that fringe the Blue Mosque, the Ajwa is a modern, purpose-built property. These 61 rooms and suites could have been lifted straight out of the Topkapi Palace. Five-star touches include mother-of-pearl furniture, silk Tabriz carpets and hand-painted ceilings. There is also the opulent Afiya Spa to unwind in after a day sightseeing, plus a fleet of Bentleys at your disposal.
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Obahan Hotel

Boutique Hotel
The Obahan Hotel is one of the most budget-friendly boutique hotels in Sultanahmet, only a few blocks south of the Blue Mosque. 17 air-conditioned rooms are contemporary and simple, with some larger suites suited to families. The real attraction here is the price, a bargain for such an enviable old Istanbul address.
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Hotel Arcadia Blue

4.5/5 (716 Reviews)
From $80 Per night per room
Western style rooms feature Savannah Grey marble, bespoke walnut woodwork and turquoise tiling at Hotel Arcadia. Unwind with a Turkish bath, sauna and massage at the spa, before choosing between two onsite eateries. The upmarket Fine Dine Istanbul restaurant and terrace bar cash in on the rooftop views of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
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Hotel Ibrahim Pasha

Boutique Hotel
Named after the 16th Century Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, Ibrahim Pasha combines two century-old homes into a boutique hotel within strolling distance of the Blue Mosque. The 24 rooms are all equipped with underfloor heating and rain showers. Breakfast is included. Head up to the rooftop terrace to admire the domes and minarets that blanket Sultanahmet Square.
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White House Istanbul

4.8/5 (609 Reviews)
From $110 Per night per room

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 Bosphorus.

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Niles Istanbul

4.5/5 (988 Reviews)
Niles Istanbul features 19th-century design elements throughout
Niles Istanbul features 19th-century design elements throughout | Courtesy of Niles Istanbul /
From $66 Per night per room

This family-run hotel in Istanbul’s Beyazit district is within walking distance of the Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and 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.

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  • Pera Palace Hotel

    Hotel, Luxury
    4.7/5 (933 Reviews)
    From $145 Per night per room

    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. Modern amenities include a spa and indoor pool. Many prominent guests have stayed at this five-star hotel, including Agatha Christie, Ernest Hemingway and Greta Garbo. Istanbul Modern, Pera Museum and numerous galleries are right around the corner.

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    Soho House Istanbul

    4.6/5 (142 Reviews)
    The building Soho House Istanbul is housed in was originally the home of a Genoese merchant and shipbuilder
    The building Soho House Istanbul is housed in was originally the home of a Genoese merchant and shipbuilder | Courtesy of Soho House Istanbul /
    From $309 Per night per room

    Down the street from Pera Palace lies Soho House Istanbul, an extravagant hotel and members’ club that has 87 refined rooms. 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.

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    The Stay Galata

    The Stay Galata is perfect for stylish travellers
    The Stay Galata is perfect for stylish travellers | Courtesy of The Stay Galata /

    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 this neighbourhood.

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    The House Hotel Bomonti

    House Bomonti
    Courtesy of House Bomonti / Expedia

    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.

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    Çırağan Palace Kempinski

    Resort, Chain Hotel, Luxury, Hotel
    4.6/5 (313 Reviews)
    From $409 Per night per room

    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 with a luxury spa and butler service. Located on the shores of the Bosporus Strait, it offers magnificent views of the Asian coast – best experienced from the outdoor infinity pool. 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.

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    Splendid Palace

    Map View
    Some rooms at Splendid Palace offer views of the Marmara Sea
    Some rooms at Splendid Palace offer views of the Marmara Sea | Courtesy of Splendid Palace /

    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.

    Tom Smith contributed additional reporting to this article.

    These recommendations were updated on March 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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