Take a look at the most romantic 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 32-room, upper-middle-range boutique hotel is one of the most popular options in the Old City, and stands out for its central location, personal family-run atmosphere, excellent free breakfast, and stylish rooms. It is a five-minute walk to the Blue Mosque, and within a 15-minute walk of all the major attractions in Sultanahmet. The standard rooms are a bit on the small side, and few rooms in any category have balconies or views – though there’s a fine panorama overlooking the Marmara Sea from the rooftop terrace. Otherwise, the hotel has little in the way of public areas or entertainment features. The mobile Wi-Fi routers on free loan to all guests are a nice touch to aid in visitors’ explorations of the city. In intimacy and charm, it's comparable to the nearby Hotel Ibrahim Pasha, but with larger rooms.
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.
The Osman Han Hotel is a three-pearl, seven-room property in the oldest part of Istanbul. Opened in 2007 by a couple who own a rug shop, the affordable property has an intimate, guest-house vibe and traditional decor. Rooms are small with old-fashioned furnishings, kettles, and mini-fridges. A free breakfast is served on the hotel's rooftop, which features spectacular views of the city and the Sea of Marmara, and it feels a bit like staying in a private home. For a more modern property with a sunny atrium, visitors could try Hotel Alilass.
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.
Couples seeking contemporary apartment-style accommodation a bit off the tourist trail are drawn to this beautifully renovated 20-room hotel on a quiet street in the old European quarter of Beyoğlu. All the well-appointed rooms are large suites with distinct seating areas; the single Luxury Suite on the top floor is downright massive. Few, however, have views, and those rooms in the back of the hotel don’t get much direct sunlight. Public areas and entertainment features are minimal, though the top-floor restaurant, Nicole, is regarded as one of Istanbul’s best. Though the location will appeal to travelers who want to escape the crowds, the hills around the hotel are steep in every direction. It’s comparably priced to the Witt Istanbul Suites, which has smaller, more industrial-chic rooms, and a better value than the more centrally located Corinne Hotel.
A low-key, mid-range property, the World Heritage Hotel Istanbul is located in Sultanahmet Square, within walking distance of top tourist attractions. Its 20 rooms have pleasant, elegant decor, free minibars, and beds routinely described by guests as "very comfortable" -- but bathrooms are tiny and can feel cramped. The hotel serves a free breakfast, including its highly touted omelets, in a rooftop dining room or terrace with views of the city. This family-run property has an intimate aura that's more like a guesthouse than a hotel. Free tea and coffee is offered upon arrival and an array of free cakes and cookies is available in the afternoons. But it's worth comparison shopping as there are many similar properties in the area, such as The Constantine Hotel, which some travelers may find more stylish.
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.
Ada Hotel Istanbul is in a prime location near Sultanahmet Square, within walking distance to dining and major attractions. It's an older property with traditional decor that has a slightly dated look, but it's still charming, and has a lovely rooftop terrace with views of the Sokollu Mosque and Sea of Marmara. Some of the 15 guest rooms are in better condition than those at other hotels nearby in the same range. All units are equipped with AC, flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, kettles, and free Wi-Fi. Many boast exquisite sea views, and there are four modern apartments with full kitchens in an annex next door. There's no full-service restaurant or bar, but a free buffet breakfast is included. Travelers seeking upscale accommodations can check out the four-pearl Dersaadet Hotel Istanbul.
Agora Guesthouse is a budget-friendly hostel/hotel hybrid with sweeping rooftop terrace views of the Bosphorus and the Asiatic side of Istanbul. The property has 19 simple and practical rooms -- both private and dormitory-style -- that have either private en-suite bathrooms or shared ones. Decor is a bit dated, however, and basement rooms have little natural light. A free breakfast includes pastries, six varieties of olives, and pickled vegetables, and is served on the rooftop. Free coffee and tea, Wi-Fi, and use of a laptop computer are also offered here. Guests routinely report that the Agora is a tidy property with a warm atmosphere. Another budget option with a more up-to-date, boutique look is the Yazar Hotel.