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Sultanahmet hotel help

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Columbus, OH
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Sultanahmet hotel help

Hi all,

We'll be taking advantage of our airline's ability to book stopovers to stay in Istanbul as part of our main trip to Egypt. We will likely be spending 9 nights in Egypt and can do the Turkey stopover either at the beginning or end of the trip. We're planning to leave the states right after Christmas -- sometime between 12/27 and 12/31 and can spend up to 3 to 5 nights in Istanbul. We're in our thirties and mainly interested in historic and other sites. We don't care at all about nightlife/clubbing. Unfortunately, I think that means we need to stay in the touristy section of Sultanahmet. So, my main questions are:

1) Is it a mistake to visit Istanbul this time of year? Is there any particular reason to put Turkey at the beginning or end of our trip? I am mainly thinking about holidays or other events that make one timeslot worse versus the other.

2) Is Sultanahmet indeed the right choice and where should we stay? I really love the look, feel, reviews, etc. of the Witt Suites but, alas, they are not in Sultanahmet. We are not opposed to universal quality names like Ritz or Four Seasons, but prefer to go more boutique when there are quality options. Not looking for an excuse to spend big, but budget isn't very constrained.

Thanks in advance!

Mount Dora, Florida
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1. Re: Sultanahmet hotel help

Hi ntguru,

The time when you should experience Istanbul is based exclusively on what you want to experience. During the first part of December Istanbul has few tourists. There are very short lines outside of the sights, prices are lower and I think the city feels a little more authentic without bumper-to-bumper tour buses.

However, if you want a busier and more festive experience you should go after Christmas. Many tourists visit Istanbul between Christmas and New Year's. Although there are no Christmas celebrations in Turkey, the stores and many of the homes decorate for New Year's Eve. Even if you go at the first of December you will probably still see some malls with their decorations.

You do not have to stay in Sultanahmet merely because your interests are the historical sites. You could stay in Beyoglu and easily reach Sultanahmet with the efficient and inexpensive public transportation. If, however, you are not interested in nightlife, you might want to avoid the kind of "party" atmosphere of Istiklal Street.

I think I would recommend that Sirkeci Konak as a suitable hotel for you. This is the only hotel in Turkey to make TA's list of the top 25 hotels in Europe for 2010. It is a lovely hotel. It is a bit larger than the little 8 to 12 room boutiques you find in Sultanahmet, but every hotel guest receives warm attention from every employee. Unlike many of the chain hotels, when you wake up in the Sirkeci Konak, you know you are in Turkey rather than just another generic luxury hotel.

The Sirkeci Konak is located at the edge of Gulhane Park so the sights of Sultanahmet are an easy walk, or a very quick tram ride. I do not think there are nearly as many tourists in Sirkeci as there are in Sultanahmet. It is generally a quiet area that is developing into a tourist area, but is not quite as dense as Sultanahmet.

There are two Four Season hotels in Istanbul. The newest hotel is on the Bosphorus. The older Four Seasons is located in Sultanahmet. It has 64 rooms, and it seems more like a boutique to me, in it's public spaces, than the chain hotel that it is. The hotel was constructed inside the walls of an old prison. The decor is very Turkish. The service is Four Season's standard care. The food is great, particularly the Sunday Brunch. I think you kind of get the feel of a boutique hotel in both the Sirkeci Konak and the Four Seasons.

I would suggest that you look at the TA Hotel Review Section for hotels in Istanbul. You can read reviews and select the hotel that seems to have the location and amenities that you find most appealing. If you have questions about a property you can send a PM to a reviewer for clarification.

I do not think you can make a mistake regardless of which of these hotels you select.

Surrey, UK
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2. Re: Sultanahmet hotel help

Do not worry about Sultanahmet being 'touristy'.... Yes, it is where most of the tourists are - because that is where all the main historic sites are located - but it is also magical, evocative, unique and enchanting. There is something magical about walking out of your hotel first thing in the morning, or taking a walk at night when the Blue Mosque and the Haghia Sophia are lit up with the seagulls circling above.... Something you don't get in Beyoglu or other areas.

You are visiting at the time of year we first discovered our love for this amazing city (the first three times we visited were at this time) - and it is a lot less touristy at this time of year but still keeps it's magic.

I would suggest you have a look at the Empress Zoe and also the Regency Suites - both are in Sultanahmet, are in a great location only a couple of minutes from the main sites, and both get excellent reviews. The Empress Zoe is quirky and interesting - we spent our honeymoon here and loved it. Go for one of the larger suites though as I believe the double rooms can be fairly small.

The Alaturka is also a good hotel that we enjoyed very much (but go for the deluxe rooms - these are large, with big bay windows overlooking the always interesting Akbiyik Cad. and again, right next to the main sites.

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3. Re: Sultanahmet hotel help

The op has indicated that there dates are fixed...just after Christmas so that is a busy time both places. Sultanhamet is a great base for your first trip to Istanbul and honestly if you can afford it the Four Seasons is a very interesting old restoration...I would go for it...can't beat the location. If you are into "quirky" check out Empress Zoe but it is very different in standards from the Four Seasons and at Christmas time I would want to be sure a hotel has good heat etc. Hard to say what to do first...maybe Istanbul on route to break the journey deal with jet lag and it is sort of a bridge into Cairo which is even more chaotic. New Years Eve in Istanbul would be fun. On the other hand getting right to the main event ie Egypt would put you there with maximum interest and energy and for myself anyway coming back to a few days in Istanbul could be relaxing compared to Egypt. It might also depend on air schedules availability etc. We loved Sultanhamet and all the magical sights there and strollling at night with the lights. Good luck.

Istanbul, Turkey
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4. Re: Sultanahmet hotel help

I too would put the Istanbul portion at the end purely from economic point of view.Istanbul has now become a popular venue for NYE trips,parties,long weekends etc. and so hotel prices are higher than after the start of the month.

Whilst you have a generous budget why spend more than you have to?Those few extra dollars can do a lot of shopping ☺

BTW,Sultanahmet no contest.Around Taksim etc may be modern and vibrant but then again so are many other world cities but Sultanahmet,as GTTD's said so well,is just something else!

Aside from Emp.Zoe and Four Seasons also take a look at Millenium Suites which recieve consistently good reviews and may be of interest as you mentioned Witt Suites in your post.

Istanbul
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5. Re: Sultanahmet hotel help

Hi ntguru,

Welcome to Istanbul. I would suggest that you stay at least 5 nights in Istanbul because there are so many things to see and so many things to do. It seems that a lot of people have their own favorites, and I second DE Busy-retired's recommendation of Sirkeci Konak Hotel. She has actually stayed in that hotel and has written the following recommendation: "tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g293974-d654…". This hotel has won one of the top 25 best hotels in Europe award, "tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Hotels-cTop2…", and a lot of other regular forum members like CintiAttorney and Greenie speak very highly of this hotel: "tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g293974-i368-k3562…".

It would be nice if you spend the new years eve in Istanbul where it is celebrated.

Enjoy Istanbul,

enigma...

Edited: 15 September 2011, 15:49
Cincinnati, Ohio
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6. Re: Sultanahmet hotel help

Do not concern yourself about staying in the Sultanahmet or nearby Sirkeci areas as too touristy. As GTTD so well puts it, it is very magical as well as convenient to most of the historic sites you will wish to visit. You already have several excellent hotel recommendations; look at the most recent reviews and plan for a minimum of four days for your visit.

Also, it is so nice to read that someone from nearby is planning a visit soon. (We will be returning for our second visit next year.)

Washington, D.C.
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7. Re: Sultanahmet hotel help

we have stayed twice at the Hotel Amira in Sultanahmet and have enjoyed it very much. It is modern, has a great location and wonderful service.

In fact, we're going back the last week of December into the beginning of January.

Good luck.

Southern England
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8. Re: Sultanahmet hotel help

We have just returned from 4 days at The Amira Hotel in Sultanahmet and I can highly recommend it. Check out it's website. Lovely rooftop terrace with superb views. Incredibly helpful staff - ask for Aurthur. Very conveniently situated, walking distance to everything including the Blue Mosque. Clean, modern, quaint, reasonably priced..........what more could you ask.

Chicago
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9. Re: Sultanahmet hotel help

Your post is confusing, in that you do and don't want to stay in Sultanahmet. (?) I'm not sure what's wrong with Witt Suites. Be assured, there are hundreds of hotels across the city. Very nice hotels in Taksim/Beyloglu which you might explore or something along the Bosphorus?

What do you want in a "boutique" hotel - charm? vintage details? great staff? amazing breakfast? views of the water at breakfast? Avoid Sirkeci Konak Hotel. This hotel doesn't enjoy a good reputation on the forum, at least by the vast majority of forum regulars. Better options available:

Dersaadet Hotel

Uyan Hotel

Empress Zoe

The President Hotel

Four Seasons

Emine Sultan Hotel

Edited: 17 September 2011, 05:53
Mount Dora, Florida
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10. Re: Sultanahmet hotel help

To my knowledge, only two forum "regulars" have actually stayed at the Sirkeci Konak, and both of them gave the hotel high praise. Their reviews can be found on the TA Hotel Page along with more than one thousand other reviews, mostly praising this hotel.

It is odd that some, certainly not the "vast majority of forum regulars" take every opportunity to be critical of a property where they have never stayed, especially when such criticism seems to be refuted by the positive reviews of so many people who have enjoyed this hotel.

I still have the same advice for the OP. If the OP seeks a four star hotel that retains a small hotel atmosphere but offers a luxury experience, and wants to stay in the historic district, I recommend the Sirkeci Konak or the Four Seasons.

If the OP truly likes the appearance of The Witt, traveling from this hotel to Sultanahmet to see the ancient sights will not be a huge or time-consuming issue.