Split between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is teeming with history, diversity and culture.
Once a major destination on the ancient Silk Road, the Turkish city has been influenced by many of the great civilizations including the Greeks, the Romans, the Venetians and, of course, the Ottomans.
This tremendous melting pot of cultures is now a major destination for both business and tourism so, naturally, a number of exceptional luxury hotels have sprung up in recent years. Here, Elite Traveler picks the 10 best hotels in Istanbul.
Four Seasons at the Bosphorus
The serene location of the Four Seasons at the Bosphorus, with 623 feet of private waterfront, more than compensates for the 15-minute drive to the city center.
From May to October lounge beside the 90-foot outdoor pool with uninterrupted views of the Bosphorus and enjoy the inimitable flavors of Turkish kebab from Ocakbaşı, an al fresco summer pop-up. On Sunday’s, head to the Aqua restaurant for a memorable Sunday brunch. A seemingly endless buffet of international specialties is complimented with live music to conjure a festival atmosphere.
The hotel boasts a state-of-the-art fitness center where each machine is furnished with a touch-screen television. The spa has 10 treatment rooms including a private spa suite for two, men’s and women’s hammams and a sky-lit indoor pool. In-room massage and spa services are available.
Top suite: Atik Pasha Suite
Located on the second floor of the historic palace building the Atik Pasha Suite offers elegant high ceilings and unrivaled views of the Bosphorus Strait. The refined interior design combines calming beiges and creams with deep-blue, terracotta and copper accents. Bespoke fabrics and mahogany furniture are complemented with splashes of Ottoman ornamentation.
The private dining room for 10, kitchenette, private bar and guest powder room make the Atik Pasha the perfect suite for entertaining. There is a spectacular marble bathroom including a steam room, a small Turkish bath and rain shower.
Tel: +90 212 381 4000 Website: fourseasons.com/bosphorus
Soho House Istanbul
The vast Soho House Istanbul occupies four gorgeous buildings in the Beyoğlu district, the creative heart of Istanbul. Opened in 2015, it is the 13th and latest property in the group of private members’ clubs. The private club spaces are housed in the Corpi, a stunning 1873 building that was home to the US embassy from 1906-1937.
The House has 87 bedrooms, made up of small rooms, mezzanines, The Playroom and The Apartment. The décor takes inspiration from Istanbul’s Ottoman architecture with gold and dark wood prominent throughout. Furnishings are a mixture of precious antiques and custom-made designs.
Guests can experience refined versions of classic Middle Eastern dishes at Soho House Istanbul’s Naavah restaurant. The group’s signature eatery Cecconi’s serves refined Italian food such as hand-made pasta dishes. The Cowshed Spa offers a range of traditional Hamam treatments and a grooming room keeps gents looking their best.
Top Suite: The Apartment
This vast 3,035-square-foot space is available for either short or long-term lets. It includes an expansive terrace with Jacuzzi and a BBQ, a super king-size bed, walk-in rainforest shower and bathtub, fully integrated kitchen and bar and dining table seating for 10. Guests also benefit from complimentary wi-fi, flat screen TV while an adjoining Tiny Room can be added to make it a two-bed.
Tel: +90 212 377 7100 Website: sohohouseistanbul.com/en
Pera Palace Hotel
The Pera Palace Hotel opened in 1895 to provide luxury accommodation for the elite traveling to Istanbul on the newly extended Orient Express.
Restored and re-opened in 2010, this distinguished hotel remains a worthy destination for today’s elite. Agatha Christie regularly visited the Pera Palace and was sufficiently inspired to write her bestseller ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. Guests have the option to stay in Christie’s favorite room, 411, where her diary was found hidden under the floorboards.
The Agatha Restaurant pays tribute to three major destinations of the former Orient Express: Paris, Venice and Istanbul, and serves a blend of French, Italian and Turkish cuisine.
For relaxation, try the new Pera Spa, which offers a traditional Turkish bath of heady scented steams, silky soaps and invigorating body scrubs.
Top suite: Franz Joseph Presidential Suite
Named after former guest, Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria-Hungary, the suite offers unrivaled views of the Golden Horn. With a personal dressing room and spacious bathroom, living and dining areas, guests will feel like Franz Joseph himself.
Çirağan Palace Kempinski Hotel
Once the residence of Ottoman Sultans, the Çıragan Palace Kempinski opened as a hotel in 1990.
With its extensive gardens, the Palace is a peaceful oasis in the bustling city. Infused with artwork and creativity, including a ground floor art gallery, garden sculpture gallery, classical music concerts and regular book readings by renowned authors, the Çıragan Palace is as much of a destination as Istanbul.
During summer, a unique gourmet barbeque of fresh seafood, lamb, beef and mezze specialties is provided. Cigar lovers will enjoy the outdoor Le Fumoir Bar, where quality cigars are served in handmade humidors and perfectly complemented with premium cognacs and quality malts.
Çiragan Palace is a prime location for elite events: the ballroom can accommodate up to 1,000 guests and there are exhibition spaces for up to 300 and three private dining rooms.
Top suite: Sultan Suite
On the second floor of this historical palace, the Sultan Suite guarantees discretion, with its own entrance, reception and a lounge where guests can enjoy breakfast, complimentary high afternoon tea, drinks and canapés in the utmost privacy. There are two large bedrooms with state-of-the-art TVs, a kitchenette, dining area for 12 and two bathrooms.
The Imperial-style furniture is Turkish and matches the suite’s colossal doors, ornate fireplaces and chandeliers. Replica Fausto Zonaro paintings are illuminated by 5.7 meter (18.7 foot) floor-to-ceiling windows.
Ask your butler to run you a bath in the grand master bathroom with its handmade marble hammam, private steam room, rain shower and gold-plated crystal faucets. Then float to sleep on the master bedroom’s air bed. The King of Spain, Juan Carlos II, and his wife Queen Sofia not to mention Bill Clinton have all stayed here.
Tel: +90 212 326 4646 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: kempinski-istanbul.com
Synonymous with luxury and style, enjoy an elegant afternoon in the hotel’s Bleu Lounge, which has a retractable glass roof so guests can enjoy the views year-round. Sip on lab-inspired cocktails while listening to a carefully created music selection.
For dinner try the fine dining experience at Atelier Real Food. Dishes are designed to highlight local, seasonal ingredients while the wine cellar boasts over 150 different bottles.
VIP guests can dine in absolute privacy in the winter garden dining room, which seats up to 16 guests. The Atelier Lounge is the perfect setting for an afternoon tea or an evening whisky. Its dark wooden paneling creates the ambiance of a traditional English private club. For a lively end to the evening, head to the Bleu Lounge where live music is played and signature lab-cocktails are served. Watch the sunset over the Bosphorus and see Istanbul light up as night falls.
For business visitors, the Ritz-Carlton offers 25,866 square feet of conference and meeting space.
Top Suite: Ritz-Carlton Suite
The décor of the suite is inspired by neoclassical and Turkish style. There is a gold-plated king-size feather bed with sumptuous linens for guests’ ultimate comfort. The suite is extensive and has a kitchenette, dining room and living room, separate parlor and separate butler’s entrance.
A decadent jacuzzi is surrounded by windows with superb views over Istanbul and the Bosphorus. There is twice-daily maid service and state-of-the-art entertainment facilities, including an interactive flat-screen TV. VIP guests have access to the Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge located on the 12th floor where complimentary light refreshments – from continental breakfast to late night cocktails are served five times a day.
Tel: +90 212 334 4444 Website: ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/europe/istanbul
Four Seasons Sultanahmet
A stunning example of neoclassical architecture, it is hard to believe that Four Seasons Sultanahmet was once a bleak Ottoman jailhouse for intellectual dissidents.
Located on Tevkifhane Sokak, ‘Jailhouse Street’, the Sultanahmet still bears the inscription Dersaadet Cinayet Tevkifhanesi, ‘Capital City Murder Jail’, on its main gate. The prison exercise yard has been reincarnated as an immaculate hotel courtyard with an elegant Seasons Restaurant glass pavilion serving afternoon tea.
Just a stone’s throw away from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, Four Seasons Sultanahmet is situated at the very heart of the city. A boutique hotel with only 65 guest rooms, the spa is exclusively for guests and has separate men’s and women’s saunas.
Top Suite: Marmara Suite
The Marmara Suite’s three private terraces present exceptional views of the historic city center. The high angled ceilings offer a sense of space away from the bustling streets.
The living room has a beautiful fireplace, state-of-the-art TV and a writing desk. At the end of the day enjoy a relaxing meal in the private dining area before soaking in the bubbling whirlpool tub. The luxurious marble bathroom includes a steam shower and its own television.
Tel: +90 212 402 3010 Website: fourseasons.com/istanbul
W Hotel Istanbul
Located in the center of the historic Akaretler Row Houses, a hip and trendy district, the W Hotel offers 136 guest rooms and speciality suites, equipped with everything you need to stay connected, with a cool east-meets-west vibe.
Guests can also take advantage of a personal chauffeured shopping service to the boutiques and up-and-coming designer shops of Istanbul. FIT® is the hotel’s fully equipped, 700-square foot fitness center where personal trainers are waiting to customize a workout for you.
After a big session in the gym, head to the W Lounge to enjoy a blend of contemporary and modern cuisine. And if you’d like some pampering after a hard day’s sightseeing, look no further than the B&G Wellness Spa with its tempting range of massages and facials.
Top Suite: Extreme Wow
Entertain guests in the intimate dining room and then soak in the jacuzzi on the private terrace. If you are longing for a quiet evening simply pick your favorite film from the extensive media library and recline with a munchie-box in front of one of the three TVs.
A DJ booth and a sizable dining room also makes this perfect for hosting guests. There are 350-thread-count linens and a goose-down duvet on the deluxe master bed.
The classic Ottoman style master bathroom has both a rainforest shower and an oversized bathtub, together with Bliss bathroom amenities.
Tel: +90 212 381 2121 Website: marriott.com/hotels/travel/istwh-w-istanbul/
St. Regis Istanbul
Situated in the trendy Nisantasi district, St. Regis Istanbul offers its usual level of exceptional service and world-class facilities in the city’s most vibrant neighborhood.
Guests are welcomed to relax in the Atrium or the well-stocked library before dining in one of the two excellent on-site restaurants. They have a choice between Wolfgang Puck’s signature Spago, which contextualizes fine Californian cuisine and offers rooftop views over Istanbul or the relaxed St. Regis Brasserie.
You can then work off your excesses in the Exercise Room or relax at the Iridium Spa, which boasts private treatment rooms, three pools, hammams and a tea bar.
Top Suite: The Bentley Suite
At 1,345-square-foot, it is not as big as the hotel’s Presidential Suite but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. As the name suggests, this suite has been designed in conjunction with the luxury British car manufacturer. There are nods to the company’s iconic Continental car across its vast space.
The room’s quilted diamond upholstery is crafted from Bentley leather while the room’s wet bar has been designed to mimic a Bentley dashboard. The bar’s doors open to reveal Breitling clocks and a full bar set-up incorporating a Humidor specially crafted in the Bentley woodshop.
The suite occupies an exclusive corner location of the hotel and offers sweeping views of Abdi Ipekci Street, Maçka Park, and the Bosphorus beyond.
Tel: +90 212 368 0000 Website: marriott.com/st-regis-istanbul
Placed high above the city, Raffles Istanbul offers amazing views above the Bosphorus as well the expected high level of luxury. The building’s modern architecture is complemented by a range of contemporary art pieces. It is also the best-placed hotel for some destination shopping as it is attached to the luxury Zorlu Center, a modern bazaar full of upscale fashion brands.
The hotel has numerous bars and restaurants ranging from casual dining to world-class gastronomy. The Rocca Restaurant, serving Mediterranean classics, falls into the latter category while the Lavinia Lounge offers a stunning space to take afternoon tea.
The expansive spa has a range of local traditional treatments and features male and female relaxation areas and an outdoor pool with stunning panoramic views of the city.
Top Suite: The Raffles Suite
One of the largest suites in the city, the Raffles Suite is a stunning, spacious home filled with natural light. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer unobstructed panoramic views across the city, which can be taken in from the private terrace.
There are designated spaces for entertaining, dining, dressing exercising as well as two large bedrooms. Guests also benefit from additional services such as helicopter transfers to and from the airport, a private yacht tour and in-room treatments and dining.
Park Hyatt Istanbul
Located in the Nisantasi district, Park Hyatt Istanbul is surrounded by Istanbul’s trendiest bars and restaurants as well as some of the city’s best shopping streets. Also close to iconic sites such as the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, it is the perfect location if you wish to explore the city.
Guests can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in the sophisticated Lounge at Park Hyatt, which specializes in Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine. There is also a beautiful wine bar, which boasts a list of over 70 different wines as well as an expansive cocktail list and a tapas menu.
The spa has a wide range of treatments that blend traditional Turkish techniques with modern Western to ensure optimal wellness.
Top Suite: Presidential Suite
This 2,690-square-foot suite occupies an exclusive corner on the property’s top floor. As well as an oversized king bed in the master bedroom, the Presidential Suite boats separate living and dining areas, guest bathroom and work desk.
The floor-to-ceiling windows and a private terrace offer enviable views of the city and the Bosphorus. The bathroom comes included with a steam room, deep soaking tub, Dornbracht rainfall shower, and refrigerated cosmetics cabinet.