Top Five: Boutique hotels in Istanbul
With our new guide to Istanbul out now, we have compiled our favourite boutique bolt-holes in the historic capital.
1. The House Hotel Galatasaray
Istanbul’s trendy House Café transformed a dilapidated 19th century building into a design buff’s dream. The 20 spacious rooms make you feel less like a hotel guest and more like the owner of a swanky urban apartment. Cool, calm and contemporary, they mix gleaming white walls and polished parquet floors with retro chandeliers, dark-wood furniture and sleek sofas. And the ultra-modern rainforest showers in the bedrooms are especially daring. The top-floor lounge is perfect for post sight-seeing relaxation with grand Chesterfields, an open fire and stunning views, and the narrow streets of Çukurcuma are a treasure trove of antique shops and vintage stores with Beyoğlu, the city’s party central, just around the corner.
House Hotel Galatasaray, Bostanbasi Caddesi 19, +90 212 252 0422, doubles start at €159.
2. A’jia Hotel
This off-the-beaten track yali - a waterfront Ottoman mansion - has been an army barracks, a private residence and a primary school, before its current guise as an ultra-modern boutique hotel hiding behind the ornate, dazzling 19th-century white façade. The sleek rooms are a minimalist mix of white walls, dark-wood floors, glass, steel, and pale marble, but its the views that really wow. Located in the Bosphorus village of Kanlica, you can live the high life by making your way to sight-seeing central Sultanahmet on the hotel’s private yacht.
A’jia Hotel, Cubuklu Caddessi 27, +90 216 413 9300, double rooms from €227 per night
3. Hotel Ibrahim Pasha
This smart but wallet-friendly option in the centre of Sultanahmet is conveniently close to all the sights, but away from the crowds down a quiet street. The rooms and public spaces are an artful blend of Ottoman opulence and contemporary cool, with bedrooms decked out with ornate bed covers and traditional Turkish carpets on the polished wooden floors. You can relax in the library, admiring the carefully chosen paintings and antiques as a log fire roars at your feet. But the hotel’s trump card is at the top of a spiral staircase. The roof terrace, covered in striking tiles, has an unbeatable front-seat view of the iconic Blue Mosque.
Hotel Ibrahim Pasha, Terzihane Sokak 5, Sultanahmet, +90 212 518 0394, doubles from €89 B&B
4. Hotel Empress Zoe
Just a stone’s throw from the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace, you’ll be woken each morning by the mesmerising call to prayer. Made up of five separate Ottoman-style houses, it’s a warren of charming rooms reached by a narrow spiral staircase, hidden courtyards and terraces. There’s no mistaking where you are, from the colourful kilims that adorn the walls, to the marble-style Turkish baths in some of the rooms. Attached to the crumbling remains of a 15th century hamam, it creates a rather special stone-walled garden, perfect for a post-sightseeing drink. Or settle in front of the log fire in the cosy breakfast room on cooler evenings.
Hotel Empress Zoe, Akbiyik Caddesi 10, Sultanahmet, +90 212 518 2504, doubles €120 B&B
5. Sirkeci Konak
Set in the Sirkeci neighbourhood, right next door to Sultanahmet, this modern reproduction of a traditional konak, or Ottoman wooden house, is close to all the major sights. The family-run hotel is big on local character: traditional hanging brass lamps, carved wooden beds, original artwork and brightly-coloured kilims, and an open-air terrace overlooks Gülhane Park, a green oasis from the hustle and bustle of the old city. Its bijoux indoor plunge pool is a bonus in summer, while the Turkish bath and sauna are additional treats. The hotel also offers complimentary wine and cheese tastings, cooking classes and a session of raki and traditional meze.