Fairmont Istanbul = Fantastic Hotel But Le Club Accor Will Be A Drag

100   Recommended

One Bedroom Suite
September 14, 2018 by
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One Bedroom Suite

Liked:
Location
Service
Food
Amenities
Room

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Room
One Bedroom Suite

Istanbul has its fair share of great hotels and for this trip we decided to try Fairmont, in part because it would be a good use of a suite upgrade certificate before they expire in a few months.  I found a reasonably low rate with best rate guarantee, and claiming BRG originally prevented me from using the suite upgrade. However after having been denied by Fairmont reservations I contacted the hotel directly and they accepted the suite upgrade certificate.  When booking a suite at this Fairmont, you automatically get access to the Gold Lounge, but normally not when using a suite upgrade cert.  Once again the hotel was generous and allowed us Gold Lounge access nonetheless. 

Location

The location of the hotel might not be the best for tourism purposes but it is decent.  It’s about a 10-minute walk to the Sisli subway station which is only a couple of stops away from the Taksim station.  It’s also on the same line as Haliç and Verneciler stations which are both walkable distance to the spice bazaar and grand bazaar. 

 

Room

Based on Fairmont.com not all suites seem to be of the same size.  The suite we got was a corner suite which is larger than others according to the floor plan. The main advantage is that we had windows on two sides of the room and a very nice L-shaped balcony.  The views of the city from there were fantastic.  The entire room is very modern with sleek design, electronic curtain controls, and has a massive entrance door.  There is a TV on both sides of the wall between the bedroom and the living room with two sliding doors to separate the bedroom from the living room as needed.  Above and below the TV are some futuristic metallic panels.  There is no DVD player in the room but when we asked for one, it was brought the same day. Off the living area there is a high table with chairs overlooking the hotel pool.  There is also a small corner with a lounge chair which is I guess might be non-existent in non-corner suites.  The room has 1.5 bathroom, with the half bath being of a decent size although it could use a bit more counter space.  In the main bathroom there is a movable wall panel (sort of like a window) that you can open up to see through the main entrance area or to close off for privacy.  There is a bathtub inside the shower area with a TV in the wall right in front of the tub.  Strangely the shower door is a single glass panel that you can slide closer to the shower head or closer to the bathtub but then the other part remains open so there can be a bit of water spilling outside the shower.  Despite some lights in the shower/bath it was a bit dark, in part because the lights were not very bright, but also because of the color scheme they used – dark floor and dark walls.  In fact floors are dark throughout the room as well but it’s more of an issue in the main bathroom because the rest of the room has lots of natural light.  The bed was very comfortable and we had great sleep with strong AC.  Overall it was a great room and great value for the money when using a suite upgrade cert, but the main questions will come when those certs no longer exist under Le Club Accor (more on that below).  

 

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Dining

Happy hour in the Gold Lounge on the 15th floor is a generous 3 hours, from 5pm to 8pm.  They had 3-4 hot dishes in addition to soup.  Some days the hot dishes were nice, the most memorable was a lovely sea bass dish, but other days it left a bit to be desired with sautéed veggies and meatballs.  There are several cold offerings as well including vegetables and local dishes.  Overall there was enough for a small dinner but not as extensive as some lounges in Middle East hotels.  I was surprised that desserts did not include baklava on any evening but there were other kinds of desserts.  The alcohol choices were a bit subpar for a hotel of this caliber, they only had one red and two white wines from Turkey, beer and liquor but no sparkling wine.  We had breakfast in the lounge with decent choice including local options such as fried sucuk and menemen.  Overall the food quality in the lounge was excellent, clearly better than for drinks.  I stopped by during afternoon tea (3pm-5pm) once and saw a few desserts but not much else. The lounge environment is great with several subdivisions which provide some privacy and it was not crowded at any time.  Most guests preferred to have one of the tables near the food station but we always chose to go to the more quiet area at the end of the lounge, which had a TV in the wall/mirror.  There is also a terrace outside the lounge with the same views as we had from our room given that it’s overlooking in the same direction of the city.  Similar to the room, the color scheme in the lounge is dark, but given that you are right next to floor to ceiling windows the lounge overall looks very nice.  What takes away a bit from the lounge experience is that we saw some people wearing their hotel bathrobe and/or hotel slippers in the lounge (so there is no dress code or it is not enforced), and also there were loud children crying and screaming on a couple of evenings, others running around, so it was not always a peaceful and enjoyable environment.  On evenings without unruly children, then it was the complete opposite: very quiet and relaxing.  

 

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Service

In the Gold Lounge we had great service, including helpful advice regarding Istanbul but also for our upcoming trips after Istanbul.  When I asked after two evenings if they sometimes had baklava in the Gold Lounge they promptly brought me my own plate from the kitchen downstairs along with recommendations for where to buy the best in town – a great service-oriented effort as a reaction to a guest question, which was very appreciated.  The service we got pre-arrival was top notch with the guest relations manager being very responsive in answering queries and preparing our arrival including confirming the suite upgrade and Gold Lounge access.  I also informed the hotel ahead of time that it would be my wife’s birthday during our stay and they kindly brought a cake in our room which was a nice touch.   Another example of excellent service and desire to please.  

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Gym

The hotel gym has great quality equipment which is obviously still new and working well.  The gym was quiet went I went there so I had full freedom to use the various machines.  The color tones in the gym are dark as in the rest of the hotel.

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Overall

Overall the Fairmont is a great hotel which I highly recommend.  However competition in Istanbul is fierce and there are several other hotels with great reviews, for example the Park Hyatt and St.Regis which are in a similar hotel category as Fairmont.  As can be the issue for several Fairmont properties worldwide, staying at Fairmont makes a lot of sense when using Fairmont certs for upgrades but once those expire, depending on the city it can be a more difficult value proposition relative to other international hotel chains if you have elite status at more than one chain, particularly outside of North America where elite benefits with competitors can be generous.  If I can have free breakfast, free lounge access, and good odds of suite upgrades at Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood, and Hilton, would I return to Fairmont Istanbul in the future without breakfast, lounge, and only a minimal room upgrade? Or pay for such extras at Fairmont when I can get them for free elsewhere?  In Istanbul the Fairmont is very good but competition is good too, so it is not so easy to overcome the numerous perks elite guests can get elsewhere so Le Club Accor program is a liability for this specific property in my humble opinion because the bar is quite high in Istanbul.  That said, for guests with elite status with Accor and not with other hotel chains (or guests without status anywhere), I can recommend Fairmont without hesitation. 

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