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Old Mar 27, 08, 9:44 pm
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Asheville, NC
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Luxury Hotels in Turkey

I was in Turkey for 10 days in February and had a chance to stay in -- or visit -- a number of luxury properties. Here's a brief rundown...


Ritz-Carlton Istanbul. This is a property that would be appropriate mainly to business travelers as it is not particularly convenient to any of the tourist destinations of the city. Located right next to the Inonu Stadium, we could actually sit in the Club Lounge the night of arrival, see teams playing soccer, and hear the crowds singing. This is a contemporary hotel. The rooms were very comfortable, and the Club Lounge had nice food presentations during the day, but it wouldn't be my first choice for leisure travelers to Istanbul.

Four Seasons at Sultanahmet. If you want to be in the middle of the tourist center of old Istanbul, this is where you want to stay. It is convenient to the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, and it is possible to walk to the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market. FS renovated a building that once housed a Turkish prison; it is now a beautiful and comfortable luxury hotel. The building surrounds a central courtyard; the hotel's restaurant occupies a new glass-enclosed room in the courtyard. The hotel is building an addition that will add more guestrooms (the demand is definitely there) and a spa.

The Çiragan Palace (pronounced shir-ahn) is a fabulous hotel located on the Bosphorus. There is a new contemporary wing connected to the Palace wing. A word about the Palace wing: the public spaces in the Palace wing are stunning, the Sultan's Suite is incredibly large and lavish, but I found the other suites in the old wing to be dowdy. You should stay in the contemporary wing. It still has an elegant "old" feeling with, it seems, acres of marble in the lobby. In terms of which room type to book, if your priority is space (you're traveling with your children and there will be more than 2 in the room), you can't beat the Deluxe Sea View room at 721 square feet (and if you want to take the risk, you can book a Superior Sea View and hope for an upgrade). The Deluxe Seaview looks straight onto the Bosphorus, but the view to the right and left is somewhat eclipsed by the wings of the hotel. If an unobstructed view is your priority, consider a Grand Deluxe or higher category. The Grand Deluxe is smaller (511 square feet) than the Deluxe but has a perfect view. The Breakfast buffet at this hotel is sumptuous and hard to be believed!

Four Seasons at the Bosphorus. Due to open by June 15, this property is now confirming reservations. We were the first group of TAs to be given a site inspection. This is a new hotel built around a 19th century Ottoman palace. Our impression of the new wings? From the outside, the architectural design was ugly, but inside, this is a beautiful contemporary hotel. The best views will be from the old palace wing (in the center of the complex, parallel to the Bosphoros). The new wings are perpendicular to the palace and do not have direct water views at all. One of the best features of this property? There will be a water shuttle across the Bosphorus to take guests between the two Four Seasons hotels in Istanbul, offering a great way to visit the old city without being stuck in traffic. Guests at one property can use the facilities of the other, and you can even stay at both FS hotels in Istanbul and only have to check in and check out one time.


Bodrum is a sea resort town in the southwest of Turkey that attracts the Turkish jet set.

Marmara Bodrum is a 96 room contemporary boutique hotel with a panoramic view overlooking the town of Bodrum. The imaginative flair of its designers can be seen the moment you enter the lobby and see the almost whimsical decoration of the public spaces. It was a very fun space! The guest rooms have a minimalist elegance that appeals to me (but may not appeal to all).

Casa Dell'Arte is a small property located right on a beach. This is an over-the-top beach hotel with the feel of a lavish private home. There are just 12 rooms (each named for a sign of the Zodiac), large and uniquely decorated. The walls of the property are decorated with the owner's art collection. You should definitely book one of the two rooms with a direct view of the beach and the sea beyond; I can't imagine staying at the beach and not being able to see the water from your room. For the ultimate family vacation (for a large family), the entire property can be booked.

Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay. This is a fabulous property with 173 rooms and suites. It has a beautiful beach, a gorgeous infinity pool, a variety of very good restaurants, and the most imaginative management I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Our site inspection was set up as a "progressive supper," each course being served in a different restaurant or area of the hotel. Our appetizer was served in the Vietnamese restaurant Saigon Club, our soup course outside by the pool (where, thankfully, efficient gas heaters kept us warm in the cold, winter evening), the pasta course in the hotel's kitchen (where we were all given aprons and the opportunity to help prepare our own meal -- something that guests can sign up for as well), the fish course in the Presidential Suite, and dessert at the bar. Management has some exciting ideas about creative children's programming and a refreshing originality about how to do more than just run a luxury hotel. This would be a great spot for a family beach vacation.


Located in the southwest corner of Turkey, Cappadocia offers very interesting touristic possibilities, including hot air balloon rides at dawn, the Goreme Open Air Museum, an underground city, the "fairy chimneys," and a pottery factory.

Anatolian Houses Hotel offers fairy-tale surroundings. Each of the hotel's 19 suites is fashioned from a cave that had previously been hewn in the soft rock of the area. Converted into luxurious suites, each room is completely different from the next. Some were multi-level. Every room had a fireplace, and most had jacuzzis. A great property for a completely out-of-the-ordinary romantic getaway.
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