Flat-screen TVs with satellite channels and DVD players
Indoor pool and fitness center
Small spa, hammam, and sauna
Rooftop restaurant with Hagia Sophia views
Within walking distance of Sultanahmet's top attractions
Free extensive breakfast buffet and afternoon tea
Free Wi-Fi and small business center
Free (limited) DVD library
Room service and porter service
Fee for access to hammam
Complaints of issues with air-conditioning
Tiny elevator sometimes requires a wait
This upscale 42-room hotel in the Sirkeci neighborhood of Sultanahmet is the nicest of the Yasmak Hotels mini-chain. Each of the rooms is named after a different sultan's wife and has tasteful Ottoman-inspired decor. Features are more extensive than at many Sultanahmet boutique hotels: They include an indoor pool, hammam, spa treatment rooms, rooftop restaurant with views of the Hagia Sophia, and fitness center. The numerous freebies -- an impressive breakfast buffet, (limited) DVD library, afternoon tea with pastries and finger sandwiches, airport transfers, and Wi-Fi -- add value, and all of the Old City's top attractions are within walking distance. But the elevator is tiny and the location on a pedestrian-only street means taxis can't come right to the front door.
A charming boutique hotel with more features than many neighborhood hotels
Tiny boutique hotels with no features proliferate in Sultanahmet, and there are limited options offering all of the features one expects from a luxury property. Hotel Sultania is one such option, providing four-pearl services (room service, porter service, concierge service) as well as a small indoor pool, marble hammam, rooftop restaurant, and fitness center -- all rarities in this area, particularly for this price range. Guests may appreciate the numerous freebies even more than the features, particularly the impressive breakfast buffet and the airport transfers, both of which add serious value.
There are a few small annoyances, however. The location on a pedestrian-only street means taxis can't come right to the front door, though there is porter service to assist with luggage -- or at least there is if you're taking the hotel's airport transfer and they know to expect you. The elevator is tiny, and though this is common for Sultanahmet hotels, it means guests may sometimes experience a wait. A larger elevator is available to take guests to the rooftop restaurant, but it technically belongs to the neighboring sister hotel.
The lobby is minimalist and modern, with the check-in desk located on a round marble platform. Check-in is a sit-down affair during which guests are served free coffee or tea. The lobby ceilings are a bit low and some may find the decor sparse, but rooms are significantly more charming, with wood floors, Ottoman-inspired patterns on the bedding, and backlighting.
In Sirkeci, a neighborhood in northern Sultanhamet that's within walking distance of top attractions
Hotel Sultania is located in Sirkeci on a pedestrian-only cobblestone street that's lined with touristy Turkish restaurants. It's a short walk to top attractions, including Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and the Hippodrome.
Istanbul is a city of contrasts. It's a city that's both modern and ancient, where great restaurants, hopping nightlife, and horrific traffic exist alongside some of the world's most impressive ancient wonders. It's both western and eastern, culturally as well as geographically: It's the only city in the world on two continents (Europe and Asia). A visitor can listen to the Muslim call to prayer while standing in the shadow of the Blue Mosque and feel transported to another time -- or go clubbing after nightfall with Istanbul's trendy urbanites. Though Istanbul is predominately Muslim, there's a clear divide between the secular, westernized population and the conservative Muslims: as a result, it's not unusual to see Turkish women in chic western dress sharing the sidewalk with women in burqas. And a smattering of other faiths also call Istanbul home, including Greek Orthodox Christians and Jews (European Jews first sought refuge in Istanbul during the Inquisition).
The Turks are famous for their hospitality, and tourists, including Americans, should feel very welcome here. Though it's good to be cautious in any large city, Istanbul's crime rates are relatively low and most tourists won't have much to worry about aside from getting occasionally overcharged by taxi drivers.
8-minute walk to the Hagia Sophia
10-minute walk to Topkapi Palace
10-minute walk to the Blue Mosque
10-minute walk to the Hipprodrome and obelisks
12-minute walk to the Grand Bazaar
13-minute walk to the Galata Bridge and the ferry stops
13-minute drive to Beyoglu, home to some of Istanbul's best restaurants, shops, and nightlife
30-minute drive to Ataturk International Airport (depending on traffic)
Rooms have tasteful Ottoman-inspired decor and marble bathrooms.
The rooms at Hotel Sultania are decorated in tasteful Ottoman-inspired decor. Each room is named for a different sultan's wife and features a round painting of her above the bed. There are Ottoman designs on bed runners and/or bolster pillows, back lighting, wooden floors, and in some rooms, intricate metal scrollwork. Housekeeping puts small welcome treats on the bed, such as squares of Turkish delight.
In the Deluxe Double Rooms, marble bathrooms have walk-in showers with rainfall showerheads; the shower door swings open to double as a bathroom door when someone is using the toilet.
Rooms with three beds are available for families, and baby cots are available upon request. Some rooms have private hammams -- essentially a large walk-in shower with marble basin and bench. Other rooms come with balconies or sofas.
32-inch flat-screen TVs with satellite channels and DVD players
The small underground fitness center has floor-to-ceiling glass windows facing the indoor pool. Machines aren't the newest, but they're perfectly serviceable. Guests will find a strength training machine, treadmill, elliptical machine, stationary bike, ab cruncher, and scale.
An extensive free breakfast buffet and a rooftop restaurant
Hotel Sultania offers an impressive free breakfast buffet in Sultania Restaurant, with cereals, meats, and cheeses, an omelet and waffle station, and hot items that change daily. Sultana Restaurant also serves Turkish cuisine for dinner and has both indoor and outdoor seating.
Olive Restaurant is located on the rooftop and accessed by the sister hotel's elevator. It is open for dinner and serves upscale Turkish food alongside panoramic views of the Hagia Sophia, Bosphorus, and Golden Horn. Indoor and outdoor seating are available.
The restaurants immediately near the hotel, Pasazade and New Hatay, get above average user reviews and offer solid (if not excellent) Turkish food; diners at New Hatay may get entertained by one of the waiters balancing beer glasses on his head.