Istanbul is an amazing city full of contrasts. It is the only city in Europe, unique, located in Europe and Asia at the same time. In fact, Istanbul is three independent sections of land. Two of them, separated by a strait, are in Europe, but if you cross the Bosporus you get to Asia, to the district of Uskudar. Actually most of the hotels are on the European side. And here, leafing through the endless list of options on Booking, it is difficult to make up your mind and find something truly unique… That’s why I created this list.
Room Mate Emir belongs to a relatively small, originally Spanish hotel chain with an emphasis on modern design. The famous Spanish hotel designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán calls himself an “urban archaeologist”. And there is some truth in it. To create this hotel, he studied Istanbul very carefully. He wanted to create a hotel which would convey the mood of the city, but without the recognizable Oriental exoticism. It really is an amazing hotel, with lots of design choices: pink walls, sharp-fashioned brass, conceptual little furniture, opulent crystal chandeliers, an exhibition-collection of biscuit porcelain, wooden panels in Scandinavian style and murals in the spirit of Chinese painting! And what about the marble bathrooms? Room Mate Emir is located next to the lively Taksim Square and Galata Tower in Beyoglu, in an alleyway off the pedestrian Istiklal Street, in an old former apartment building with thick brick walls. An important plus for travelers is the proximity to European-type restaurants and local designer stores.
For those who do not really prefer to lie in the sun, and likes to explore cities and attractions, is ideal Gezi Hotel Bosphorus, a member of the Design Hotels chain. From the name it is already clear that the hotel offers an amazing view of the Bosphorus. There are rooms located on the 17th floor, so you can take binoculars with you to enjoy all the highlights of the city from a bird’s eye view.
The Bank Hotel belongs to the Design Hotels chain. And it is a perfect combination of historical architecture and modern design. The building used to be a bank vault, hence the name of the hotel. The hotel designer Khan Tumertekin wanted to preserve the building in its original form, but he decided to compensate for the coldness and pomposity of the marble with an abundance of greenery and a rich palette of colors. I think he succeeded! The hotel is located on Bankalar Street in the bustling Karaköy, the famous financial district of Constantinople. The hotel is perfect for travelers looking to explore the bohemian Beyoglu district and the historic Sultanahmet district. And all the most popular art galleries and museums are also nearby: Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Elipsis, Mana and Istanbul 74 galleries.
The largest and one of the most luxurious boutique hotels of the Soho House chain (thirteenth in number) is located in Istanbul in the classic Italian palazzo Korpi (in the European part of the city), with antique frescos, vintage furniture and two rooftop pools.
For more than twenty years, Nick Jones, owner of the London chain, has combined indoor hotel clubs for people in the creative professions, choosing buildings with history, and the unique spirit of the city.
Istanbul was no exception. Nick Jones found an amazing late 19th-century two-story mansion of Genoese merchant Ignazio Korpi, in the Beyoglu district (built by Giacomo Leoni and Giorgio Stampa). The legend says that no effort and no money were spared to build the palace: the doors and windows were mahogany from Piedmont, the interior was decorated with Carrara marble, and the walls and ceilings were painted with frescoes with antique themes. The merchant, however, did not live there – having entered the palace, he immediately dropped dead. Within 125 years, the palace was rented (and subsequently bought) by the American embassy. In 2003, they abandoned the palace and put it up for sale.
Soho House Stambul has four buildings, 87 rooms, an indoor club, a gym, a movie theater with 50 velvet chairs, Cowshed Spa and a private restaurant The Chancery Room with a rooftop pool. Centuries-old frescoes, marble and mahogany, vintage furniture and crystal chandeliers from the early 20th century adorn the hotel; luxurious carpets on the floor and proper mirrors on the walls. The designers looked for the other interior items on the spot, so there are a lot of details of Turkish production, including traditional textiles and carpets.
Another member of the Design Hotels chain is the small Witt hotel with eighteen luxurious rooms. The interiors of the hotel are eclectic retro furniture, rocking chairs, soft leather sofas and panoramic views from the window. And the interiors also feature recurring floral motifs – but not in the form of mottled textiles, these are barely noticeable perforations on the concrete walls, very unusual!
You can go to Istanbul not only for the modern boutique hotels, but also for the classic luxury palaces. And even if you are not a fan of such pompous interiors, Turkey is worth making an exception. Where else but here you can stay in the former palace of Sultan Abdulaziz, built in 1871. Although a fire in 1910 destroyed the interiors, you can enjoy the original exterior, marble hammam and pool overlooking the Bosphorus. After all, the building houses the Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel.
Another option for a luxury vacation in Istanbul is the Park Hyatt Istanbul Macka Palas, located in the prestigious Nishantashi district. It even has spa suites, with an en-suite bathroom featuring its own Turkish hammamo. Near the hotel are many designer boutiques, restaurants and the green Macka Park.
For art lovers there is a unique hotel – Raffles Istanbul, located in the futuristic center of the city – Zorlu. The hotel walls are decorated with more than 200 works of contemporary artists. And the hotel has one of the largest rooms in the city, the luxurious Presidential Suite, where Lady Gaga likes to stay. That fact certainly doesn’t make the hotel any more special, but the presence of the delicious Isokyo and Rocca Restaurant do!
Right from the Four Seasons Hotel, you can go for dinner at one of the best fish restaurants in the city – Aqua. The hotel is located in a restored 19th century Ottoman palace right on the shore of the Bosphorus, where the historical architecture blends harmoniously with the luxurious decor. A very beautiful hotel with luxurious grounds!
One of my favorite chains, with its luxurious but not pompous interiors. All rooms and common rooms at the St. Regis are decorated with authentic paintings and sculptures by contemporary Turkish artists from the famous Demsa collection. On the roof of the hotel there is a gourmet restaurant Spago, the signature restaurant of renowned chef Wolfgang Puck. There is the Iridium Spa of 950 square meters with 3 swimming pools. Also, all guests have free butler service.
Rising above the shores of the Bosphorus, the Fairmont brings its personality and style to the city, complemented by Istanbul’s rich historical heritage and tradition. The hotel has more than 200 rooms with elegant design. It offers views of the bustling cityscape and the Bosphorus Strait. The hotel has wonderful restaurants, Stations and Demlique by Tonka, as well as the Marble Bar. The hotel is very bright and elegant.
If you don’t already know the Rixos hotel chain, check out my post about the Rixos Hotel in Abu Dhabi (UAE) and you will understand everything at once. The Rixos Pera in Istanbul is a prime example of the chain. It is located in the historic Taksim neighborhood near Beyoglu, just 200 meters from the lively Istiklal Street. Rixos Pera Istanbul reflects the unique characteristics of the Pera neighborhood. The architectural style in Pera reflects the history of Istanbul from the 16th century. This style is easily noticeable inside the hotel: from the striking lobby to the elegant and stylish furnishings of the rooms and suites. It is truly a luxurious and elegant corner of Istanbul, full of restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs.
Oh Shangri-la… Who hasn’t heard of this chain? Shangri-La Bosphorus is located on the European coast of the Bosphorus Strait, next to the financial center of the city. The snow-white facade of the building against the blue waters of the strait and the mesmerizing views through the huge panoramic windows… What could be more beautiful? The hotel interiors are done in classic style in soft beige and soft pastel tones. This hotel is a mix of luxury and comfort and will please perhaps… Almost everyone!
If you come to Istanbul not for the fashion but for the history and local culture, try a stay in the center of the old city, at the AJWA Sultanahmet Hotel. This hotel combines the best features of Ottoman and Seljuk architecture. Unique marble details, mother-of-pearl furniture, Tabriz silk carpets, original paintings by famous contemporary artists, hand-painted ceilings and specially commissioned tiles adorn the rooms and public areas. Here you can feel like a true Turkish sultan.
Another non chain hotel is Mr Cas on Istiklal. This pedestrian street is sometimes compared to the Arbat in Moscow, but it is strange, because on the modern Arbat you will not find something authentic and interesting as on Istiklal. Mr Cas Hotel is difficult not to notice for those who like to look through the windows. From the street you can see the lushly decorated space, which is a terrace. Mr Cas is located in a former private house that was built in 1990 and in the 1960s became a venue for bohemian parties. This atmosphere is still maintained in the hotel: a huge chandelier meets you at the entrance, and vintage clothes created at the junction of Oriental and European fashion are exhibited on the walls.
Thanks to a Turkish-American family, an old 19th-century distillery on the Asian side of the Bosphorus has been transformed into an amazing hotel. Nedret and Mark Butler (the same family) bet on the luxurious view and on the talent of their daughter Yasha: she decorated all eighteen rooms in the spirit of understated modernism. An added bonus is a fish restaurant with one Michelin star.
This modern boutique hotel is located in the historic Galata district, just steps from the Galata Tower and close to designer stores, popular restaurants, museums and art galleries. The hotel occupies a historic 130-year-old building. Its spacious rooms with unique interiors and personalized furnishings – created by architect Onur Yilmaz. In this hotel you can feel the real Istanbul flavor, and on the way out, discover the age-old streets, away from the crowds of tourists.
This luxurious hotel with picturesque views of the Sea of Marmara is located in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district. It is the most interesting and most visited historical part of Istanbul, located on a promontory washed by the Golden Horn Bay and the Bosphorus Strait. The designer rooms with high-tech amenities are decorated in a modern baroque style. Rooms are decorated with handmade ceiling murals and Turkish textiles. Near the hotel are Hagia Sophia Cathedral, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar. A lovely modern, reasonably priced hotel.
All photos are taken from Booking.com.