Take a look at the best luxury hotels in Istanbul.
The White House Hotel is a 22-room, boutique hotel in the heart of Istanbul’s Old City. Built in 2000, this upscale property manages to convey a much longer history thanks to its traditional Ottoman decor and its rooftop dining room with views to the Aya Sofia, a former mosque that's now a museum. Like many hotels in the most ancient part of the city, the White House has windows that open to a busy street, so noise may be an issue for some travelers. Guest rooms feel feminine and elegant, and have modern amenities, though they're somewhat small. Breakfast, including the fresh fruits plentiful in the region, is free and served on the terrace. The hotel accepts pets with no fees, a boon for an Old City property. If the White House Hotel is booked, visitors could try the significantly less expensive, upscale Cela Sultan Hotel, which has Hagia Sophia views.
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.
Raffles Istanbul is a five-pearl property with dramatic, art-filled interiors situated in an upscale mall and residential complex, about a 30-minute drive from the top tourist sights. Its 185 rooms and suites have floor-to-ceiling windows (many with sweeping city and water views), balconies, butler service, and tablet controls. The hotel has a serene indoor pool with an atrium and an outdoor pool with stunning views and a bar. Its eight restaurants and bars include a Michelin-starred dining room serving Catalan food, while the enormous spa offers an array of treatments. Design-centric interiors and ultra-attentive service draw well-heeled tourists and business travelers, but those seeking something closer to the top sights might want to consider the Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel -- though rooms aren't as spacious and don't come with as many amenities.
The Neorion Hotel is an upscale, boutique-size property with a prime location within minutes' walk of Istanbul's historical center. Although relatively new, the building features traditional Ottoman styling inside and out, including in the decor of its 53 guest rooms. While the spa is impressive for the level of hotel, its the rooftop terrace that really wows with superb views accompanied by free drinks and meze at dusk. Prices are fair for the category (the comparable Hotel Sultania nearby has similar rates), and super-friendly staff and general charm ensures the Neorion remains one of the most popular choices around.
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.
The four-and-a-half pearl Levni Hotel in Istanbul's Old City has an indoor pool, full-service spa, and panoramic views of several top tourist attractions. The 75-room hotel, spread over six floors and in two buildings, is a rarity in a city with generally much smaller properties offering fewer amenities. The Levni has a stylish restaurant that offers traditional Ottoman and Western food, and serves a free breakfast in its atrium with wonderful views. Guest rooms are a bit dark, but modern and comfortable, with minibars. For a hotel with an outdoor pool, visitors could try the slightly more expensive Marmara Taksim.
Housed in a charmingly traditional building, the upscale Hotel Niles Istanbul is a small family-run property set just two blocks from Istanbul's must-see Grand Bazaar, but a bit far from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia (a 20-minute walk). A 2013 renovation upgraded most rooms, while suites are particularly luxurious, with heated flooring. The rooftop terrace makes for a very pleasant place to enjoy breakfast with sea views and alfresco option. Those who prefer a location closer to the hub of the historical center should consider sister property Dersaadet Hotel Istanbul.
Hotel Ibrahim Pasha is one of the most charming boutique hotels in Sultanahmet, with an unbeatable location just off the Hippodrome. The cozy lobby and library both have wood-burning fireplaces -- a real treat in the cooler months -- and the roof terrace has a jaw-dropping view of the Blue Mosque and the Bosphorus. The free breakfast is perfectly adequate if not as extensive as the offerings elsewhere, and free tea and coffee are served all day upon request. Standard Rooms are diminutive but adorable, with flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, robes, Molton Brown toiletries, and rainfall showerheads. For what you get, it's a great value, though prices do spike up in peak season.
The upscale, 79-room Yasmak Sultan Hotel is ideally situated in the Old City, within walking distance of both the waterfront and major tourist attractions. Sophisticated rooms feature a chic white and beige color palette and include minibars, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. The hotel has a rooftop restaurant with fantastic city views, as well as a wellness center with a small indoor lap pool and saltwater pool, a small gym, two treatment rooms, a Turkish hammam, and a sauna -- though some of these cost extra fees. There are plenty of four-pearl properties in the area though, so travelers might want to compare rates with The Golden Horn Hotel or Hotel Ipek Palas.
Set inside a refurbished building that dates back to 1922, the five-pearl Park Hyatt Istanbul - Macka Palas gives Old World grandeur a contemporary polish. Its 90 spacious guest rooms complement the original details -- rounded archways, wood floors, and flowery moldings -- with modern furniture, and have luxurious bathrooms as well as an array of amenities like Nespresso machines, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi. Features include a spa, small fitness center, and lovely outdoor pool, plus there are two restaurants and an elegant wine bar. But the location, in the upscale Nisantasi neighborhood, isn't ideal for tourists who want to explore the Old City on foot, as historic sites like Topkapi Palace are a 30-minute drive away. For something closer to attractions, travelers might want to check out the Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel.
Set in a traditional 19th-century wooden house, the upper-middle-range Esans Hotel has eight comfortable guest rooms, each named after a perfume, and they're equipped with air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, stocked minibars, and electric kettles. A generous breakfast buffet is served each morning in the rooftop breakfast room, which offers panoramic city views. Wi-Fi is free in all areas of the hotel, and international calls to some countries are free. Notable downsides include the cramped showers in the bathrooms and the lack of an elevator. Travelers may also want to consider nearby Basileus Hotel, which offers rooms with larger bathrooms, though rates can be higher.
Although it may lack a certain polish or uniform design sense, this eclectic four-pearl hotel built in the 18th century impresses on many levels -- particularly in character. There's a virtual treasure trove of original art, antique furniture, handmade textiles, and various historical knick-knacks strewn throughout the common areas and in the 16 guest rooms, suites, and apartments. The on-site spa, hammam, garden, cafe, and restaurant add several more layers of frosting to the already savory cake, while the location in the Çukurcuma provides distance from the tourist hurricane in Sultanahmet and proximity to Istanbul’s hipster, shopping, and nightlife scenes in and around nearby Istiklal Street. For equal quirk, but major sights nearby, check into the Kybele Hotel, just steps from the Hagia Sofia in Sultanahmet.
The Celal Sultan Hotel is a four-pearl, boutique property in the most ancient section of Istanbul. The 55-room hotel, spread over three buildings, has views of the dramatic Hagia Sophia from its terrace restaurant, one that serves Ottoman and Western cuisine. Rooms are cozy, clean, and decorated with ornately patterned fabrics, and all have minibars and flat-screen TVs. Located on a quiet street, this charming hotel is in the middle of many top tourist attractions such as the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace. Breakfast is free and includes homemade goods. But there's no Turkish bath or fitness center on-site; visitors seeking a hotel with both, might try Lady Diana Hotel.
Swisshotel The Bosphorus is one of Istanbul's most luxurious hotels, situated in 65 acres of gardens overlooking the Bosphorus. Newly refurbished in 2015, its 566 guest rooms have a classy, contemporary style, and are equipped with luxury amenities such as 46-inch flat-screen TVs, Nespresso coffeemakers, and spacious marble bathrooms. The hotel's many on-site features do not disappoint and include four restaurants, an indoor lap pool, a rooftop infinity pool, and a huge wellness center with a spa, sauna, steam room, Turkish bath, and a hot tub. However, the hotel's isolated location a 20-minute drive from most major tourist attractions in Sultanahmet, may put some tourists off. Leisure travelers may want to compare rates with the more centrally located luxury property CVK Hotels & Resorts Park Bosphorus – Istanbul.
CVK Hotels & Resorts Park Bosphorus is a huge five-pearl hotel in Istanbul's bustling Taksim neighborhood, steps away from Taksim Square. Despite its classic, Ottoman-inspired style, the building was built in 2013 and the interiors are glossy and chic, with all the requisite modern inclusions. The rooms are spacious, with king-size beds and luxury amenities like mini hammams and soaking tubs in marble bathrooms, as well as private balconies. There's also an expansive indoor pool area, six high-end dining options, and a full spa. The decadent hammam has gold mosaic tiles, and there's a sleek library complete with a fireplace and cream-coored leather chairs. Although couples and business travelers are the target market, it’s perfect for anyone looking for a relaxing and refined environment in the heart of the city.