A stay in Istanbul has a peculiar quality. Slowly and unnoticeably the city’s spirit and charm sneaks into every corner and nook of your mind. And while that can be said of every city, waking up in Istanbul has its own feel, its own ‘signature’.
How come? Something in the air, I guess, that makes it so vibrant and alive. But in order to dream of Istanbul when you’re not there anymore, first you’ll have to find a place to stay while you’re there. So, leaving romantic musings aside for a while, let’s consider the more pragmatic question of which Bosphorus hotel to stay in, while in Istanbul.
Çırağan Palace Kempinski
A straightforward and excellent choice, the Çırağan Palace Kempinski will offer you the best in terms of luxury and service. Located between Beşiktaş and Ortaköy, this 5 star hotel is based right on the Bosphorus shore. And since most of its rooms look out to the strait, you will be greeted by it whenever you step out on your balcony.
Or why not enjoy the view from the hotel’s heated outdoor infinity pool, while sipping a drink? The spa and gym doors are also wide open, offering massages, therapies and treatments. All rooms are equipped with climate control, an in-room safe, a bathtub along with the shower and plenty of pillows (alongside an additional pillow menu!).
Four Seasons Bosphorus
The Four Seasons Bosphorus is another logical choice if what you seek is quality and comfort. Housed in a former 19th-century Ottoman palace, the hotel is nothing short excellent. Unsurprisingly, the hotel is a Travelers’ Choice 2014 Winner, voted among the 25 most luxurious hotels in Istanbul.
Also located on the water, this former palace has 170 guest rooms and 25 suites to accommodate those with a taste for luxury. Among its most notable services is the traditional hammam (Turkish bath) experience. Tailored to your needs, this can further include a massage, a body mask and delicious food. Staying at this hotel is certainly worth your money.
A hotel from one of the bigger and more popular hotel chains is always a possibility. But you can also enjoy something local whose quality is just as good. A’jia is one such option. Located in Kanlica, on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, this boutique hotel offers you a luxurious and more private experience.
A’jia is a seaside mansion from the 1800’s, fitted with contemporary interior design, furnishing and service. With its 16 bedrooms it can only accommodate so many guests, which means that you should book early. And with its “Five Star Diamond Award” by The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences you are sure to have an exquisite dining experience.
House Hotel Bosphorus
The House Hotel chain is a group of four luxury boutique hotels in Istanbul. The House Hotel Bosphorus is located on the shore of Ortaköy, in the vicinity of the neo-Baroque Ortaköy Mosque, on the European bank of the Bosphorus. Also a 19th century Ottoman mansion, the hotel used to be the home of architect Simon Balian whose works are important landmarks of Istanbul’s landscape.
With its 26 rooms, the House Hotel Bosphorus is slightly larger than A’jia but without compromising its status of a boutique hotel. It has its own house cafe, as well as lounge bar, both offering indoor and outdoor seating and a beautiful panoramic view over the Bosphorus. Further amenities include a gym, yoga, Pilates and massage options.
Hotel Les Ottomans
In the multicultural spirit of Istanbul, Les Ottomans combines the feel and aesthetics of an 18th century yalı with the organizational principles of Feng shui. Former home of the hattat (calligrapher) Muhsinzade, the mansion was given new life a few years ago, after it had burned down in 1933.
The result is a marvelous and luxurious hotel, which honors the memory of its former inhabitants and the spirit of Turkish hospitality. It is not by chance that Les Ottomans has been receiving award after award since 2007. To name a few, the hotel was recognized as Turkey Leading Boutique Hotel and Europe’s Leading All Suite Hotel during 2012 and 2013. Book early in order to make it for one of the 10 rooms.
Deriş Bosphorus Lodge
Near the Dolmabahçe palace in Kabataş you can find the Deriş Bosphorus Lodge. Another award-winning boutique hotel, the Deriş Bosphorus Lodge also oversees the Bosphorus. While not a historical mansion as the ones above, it makes up for this with its luxurious service and interior.
Its three-level garden allows for comfort, rest and a quiet breakfast, lunch or dinner, spent in an intimate setting. All of its 7 apartments are well-furnished, well-lit and spacious, providing comfort. Its location offers the possibility for easy access to the Old City, the Grand Bazaar but also Taksim. Crossing over to the Asian side with a Bosphorus cruise is quite easy as well!
Bosphorus Palace Hotel
Finally, there’s Bosphorus Palace Hotel, another historic waterside mansion, though heavily renovated after it, too, caught fire. Ottoman motifs and ornamentation, Italian furniture finely coated with 18-carat gold leaf, English style bathrooms – all of this is included in your experience at one of the 14 rooms.
Additionally, the boutique hotel offers the possibility to host and organize your wedding ceremony or henna night (an Anatolian bachelorette party). Want to see more? Enjoy the 360 virtual tour of the hotel before booking.
So where should you stay?
A Bosphorus boutique waterside hotel offers many advantages and possibilities, compared to more familiar and popular options. You have the advantage of plenty of private space and calm, alongside luxurious service, amenities and a delicious dining experience.
Finally, you can go on a Bosphorus cruise just by stepping out of the door, as all of the hotels listed above, with the exception of Deriş Bosphorus Lodge, have their own private pier. That way you can avoid getting stuck in traffic and arrive or depart by boat whenever it suits you.