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Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet 4.5

Istanbul, Turkey

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Ultra-luxe boutique property housed in a former Turkish prison
  • Located in the charming Old City near sights and restaurants 
  • Traditional furnishings and grand architecture with a contemporary spin 
  • Rooms have exquisite, rich details; some face the courtyard
  • Nespresso machines, iPod docks, and free chocolates in rooms
  • Bathrooms with soaking tubs, L'Occitane products, walk-in showers, and flat-screen TVs
  • Rooftop bar with jaw-dropping views of Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque
  • Restaurant, piano bar, and tearoom with fireplace; 24-hour room service
  • Fitness center has free bottled water, snacks, and coffee/tea
  • Freebies of valet parking, Wi-Fi, coffee/pastries at reception, and access to sister property 
  • Kid-friendly with babysitting services, gear, and special menus 

Cons

  • No pool or spa
  • Fee for breakfast; a la carte menu only
  • Small fitness center isn't open 24 hours
  • No airport shuttle and it's expensive to reach the sister property 

Bottom Line

Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet is a luxury boutique hotel housed in the Old City's early 20th century former prison, just a seven-minute walk to Blue Mosque. Original architectural details are incorporated throughout and contemporary decor hits the mark in capturing traditional Turkish design. Sixty-five rooms epitomize refined luxury, donning rich fabrics, high-end furnishings, and decadent bathrooms with soaking tubs. They're replete with excellent amenities like Nespresso machines, flat-screen TVs, Bose CD players, and freebies -- including gourmet chocolates. The rooftop lounge has breathtaking views of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, and there's also a piano bar and tea room with a fireplace. However, if a pool and spa are a must, travelers may wish to consider the five pearl Shangri-La Bosphorous, Istanbul

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Scene

Luxury boutique hotel with modern style and echoes of the old former Turkish prison 

It's ironic that Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet occupies a former prison, because once inside, you might not want to leave. Situated on a quiet cobblestoned street, the three-story Neoclassical building that dates to 1918 is a stunner -- especially at night when it's dramatically illuminated. Its mustard-yellow facade is embellished with marble trim and blue enamel, and has ivy vines climbing up to the roof. 

Inside the lobby, traditional accents add authentic touches to contemporary decor, and well-heeled couples and families fill its airy corridors. There are soaring arches, floors inlayed with Turkish tile, handwoven kilim rugs, and intricate patterns carved into dark wood furniture. The setting in the piano bar is completely different. The space is styled like a Victorian townhouse's parlor, and afternoon tea is served in an elegant drawing room, with sky blue walls, a mosaic tile floor, and a fireplace. What was once the prison's exercise yard is now a sprawling interior garden, anchored by a glass roof building resembling a hothouse that contains the hotel's restaurant. It's surrounded by cafe tables and chairs for dining in fine weather. 

Location

Walking distance to major tourist sights and restaurants in the heart of the Old City

The hotel is conveniently located in a touristy area in the center of the Old City, near Sultanahmet Square. It's within a quick walk of several major sights including: Topkapi Palace, Haghia Sophia, and the Blue Mosque. Restaurants and cafes are close by, but there aren't as many shops. Istanbul has an excellent public transit system (and horrendous traffic) with a metro, buses, and trams. The hotel is an eight-minute walk to the Sultanahmet tram stop. 

  • Four-minute walk to Hagia Sophia Museum
  • Five-minute walk to Basilica Cistern 
  • Seven-minute walk to Blue Mosque 
  • Eight-minute walk to the Sultanahmet tram stop
  • 10-minute walk to Topkapi Palace
  • 11-minute walk to Istanbul Archaeology Museum
  • 18-minute walk to Grand Bazaar
  • 20-minute walk to Spice Bazaar
  • 26 minutes via public transit to Suleymaniye Mosque
  • 29 minutes via public transit to Dolmabahce Palace
  • 38 minutes via public transit to Chora Church
  • 30-minute drive to Ataturk International Airport (longer with traffic)

Rooms

Luxurious decor and decadent bathrooms with soaking tubs

Rich fabrics and fine furnishings accented with traditional Turkish elements and Neoclassical decor make rooms warm and inviting. The overall effect is luxurious but not overly lavish, and eyes are drawn to accents like intricate iron scrollwork at the base of tables and finials atop silken drapes. Thoughtful additions, such as crescent-shaped hammered metal chrome fruit bowls and handwoven Turkish kilim rugs, make spaces feel special. Brocaded bedspreads in muted tones seamlessly coordinate with chairs donning contemporary patterns. Soft shades of blue and gold are used throughout to highlight an otherwise neutral palette. 

Rooms have free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, Nespresso machines, handsome desks, DVD and Bose CD players, and Air-conditioning. Minibars are stocked with drinks but are lacking in snacks. However, chocolates hidden in a mini velvet fez are a fun token gift upon arrival. Decadent bathrooms contain soaking tubs, walk-in showers, flat-screen TVs, attractive marble-topped sinks, L'Occitane toiletries, terrycloth robes, and scales. 

Upgrading to suites affords high-speed Wi-Fi, balconies, fully equipped kitchens and dining tables, living rooms with fireplaces, and whirlpool tubs. Some rooms face the interior courtyard garden while others look out on the Old City's quaint and picturesque streets.

Features

Lovely interior garden and rooftop lounge with views

The devil is in the details when it comes to taking advantage of some features at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet. There's no pool or spa on-site but guests are given free access to facilities at the hotel's sister property in Bosphorus. Getting there, however, is costly and a hassle. The hotel is only five miles away but with Istanbul's murderous traffic guests are advised to take a water taxi -- and on top of that, there's round-trip taxi fare from the Old City to the port. 

As for Wi-Fi, low-speed service is free throughout. Unless you're staying in a suite, plan to fork over funds for high-speed access to do anything more than check email, like download photos or watch video. 

The hotel's restaurant is solid and offers a variety of a la carte options. Kids menus are available and the kitchen accommodates special dietary requests. Breakfast isn't included but for a nominal fee guests can have a morning meal in-room without additional charges. Room service is available 24 hours. 

The Neo-Ottoman rooftop lounge -- gushed over by guests across the board -- has breathtaking views of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. There's also a lobby lounge with a fireplace for drinks, small bites, and daily afternoon tea. Early morning free coffee, tea, and pastries are on offer near reception. 

The fitness center is small with limited machines, and isn't open 24 hours, but has free bottled water, drinks, and snacks. Concierge services and the business center are available around the clock. Valet parking is free. 

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Address

Teyfikhane Sok No 1 Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34122, Turkey