I knew after our stay at the Neorion that it was one of the best hotels in the world. This week TA confirmed my evaluation by nominating this outstanding property as one of the best twenty-five hotels in the world.
The hotel achieves this status by doing everything right. The decor was themed after the many civilizations that have occupied the ancient lands of Turkey. Museum quality reproductions of artifacts are displayed in glass cases at the entrance to the hotel. You can spend lots of time just admiring this collection.
There is no check-in counter. There is a small desk where the hotel manager sits to make sure each reservation is managed correctly. In seconds your passports are copied, a bell boy has taken your luggage and you are in the hands of a guest coordinator who is happy to review your plans for your entire stay or just your afternoon. She will make reservations, provide maps, explain how to reach any place you want to go. If you were a bit apprehensive about being in Istanbul, this charming lady will make this go away.
Once in your hotel room you are cradled in tasteful, elegant luxury. The rooms, by Istanbul standards are huge. The decor is elegant and understated. The beds are comfortable. There is a choice of pillows. The pristine bathroom is finished in marble tiles. Our bathtub was almost deep enough for swimming. The linens were of high quality as were the amenities. Our balcony room had magnificent views of the Spice Bazaar area including the minarets of the New Mosque as well as the spectacular Suleymaniye Mosque.
The furniture is tasteful and comfortable. The flat screen TV has several English language channels. The wifi service in the room (and all over the hotel) is swift and reliable. I was not dropped a single time during out stay at the Neorion.
These elements are the things that qualify the Neorion as a world class hotel, and then there are the things that set it apart. There are little things like a candy bowl filled with Turkish Delight, or a fresh flower in a vase. There are bigger things such a the letter welcoming you. It is signed by the owner of the hotel and includes his personal cell phone number with an invitation to call that number any time you have an issue.
Which leads me to discuss the amazing staff of this hotel. I am confident that there are few calls to the owner. This staff is clearly well-selected and carefully trained. Many of the employees have advanced degrees from well-known universities. These skilled people know what you need before you know it. What I like most about the staff is that, in spite of the fact that they work at a luxury hotel, they are not snooty. They are cheerful, happy and most importantly personable. They all make me feel as if I am visiting a friend or beloved family member. From the minute you walk in the door they all know your name and we felt as if they completely embraced us into the Neorion family.
The public areas are lovely. They do not have a lobby. The have a living room, and it functions as a nice place to relax and visit with other guests. It is a good place to exchange experiences and pick up travel tips.
The breakfast area is nicely appointed. While the service is buffet style, the tables are white linen and served by pleasant young men who bring coffee, tea or anything else you might desire. Breakfast is a great experience. Typical offerings include normal Turkish breakfast foods, including tomatoes, cucumbers, olivers, rich yogurt, a variety of breads, and huge variety of jams, a honeycomb dripping with honey, and a variety of fresh fruit. There are eggs prepared in several different ways. There is a huge glass dispenser of fresh orange juice, and as well as Turkish tea there is brewed coffee, not something easily found in Istanbul.
In the afternoon, the breakfast area welcomes weary guests with snacks of fruit, sandwiches, soup and salad. These snacks are available for several hours in the late afternoon and evening. Just enough to give you the energy to dress for a lovely dinner.
The rooftop of the Neorion provides spectacular views of the Bosphorus including the beautiful Bosophorus Bridge which displays magnificent lighting each evening. Wine is served on the roof top at sundown, and it is a perfect way to end the day. Breakfast, afternoon snacks and wine on the rooftop are all included in the price of the room.
The spa is so elegant and so pristine that I think it looks like the cover of a travel magazine. In addition to a beautiful swimming pool and a whirlpool, there is also a small pool just for children. Since this area is all indoors it is available 12 months per year.
There are several areas for private massages and/or Turkish bath experiences. Our daughter spent a decadent morning experiencing all kinds of bathing and massage events. She still speaks of a bath made exclusively of tiny bubbles, and the most relaxing massage she has ever had.
The Neorion is located in what I believe to be a perfect place. The Sirkeci neighborhood borders Sultanahmet so visitors are close to all the historic sights, but not sleeping in the middle of what has become tourist central for Istanbul. Sirkeci, while adding more hotels and restaurants every year, still feels more like a Turkish neighborhood than a tourist neighborhood. There are carpet stores, and places to buy knick knacks to take home, but the salesmen are not aggressive.
Sirkeci is also within easy walking distance of the Spice Bazaar and the ferries at Eminonu. It is no more than a block or so away from the tram stop, which links you to almost all mass transit in Istanbul.
There are dozens of choices for meals from elegant multi-course rooftop restaurants to the tiny restaurants on Hodjapasa Street right across from the hotel. Here you can find every kind of kebob made in Turkey including the fantastic Cag Kebob.
Around the corner from the Neorion is the lovely little Cafe Meze, which became our favorite restaurant on our last trip to Istanbul. Affiliated with the Sirkeci Group, which also owns the Neorion you can also get to Cafe Meze from the breakfast room in the Neorion. The atmosphere here is simple and cozy. The staff is casual, vibrant and fun, but there is nothing casual about the food, which is magnificent. The lentil soup is the best in the city. Cafe Meze is a great asset for the Neorion.
There are not enough great words to use about this outstanding property. I love Istanbul. It is ancient and modern. It bridges Europe and Asia. It is enchanting and mysterious. The Turkish people are the most hospitable in the world. The Neorion is the perfect entrance into Istanbul, because it is all of these things under one single roof.
I only have one problem with the Neorion. I just do not want to leave the hotel. The room is so lovely. The staff is so personable and so much fun. The hotel is so interesting. I struggle to get out of the door and see something new in the city.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Neorion Hotel is at the very center of Istanbul's history and culture, ancient and modern. Named for Byzantium's grand port (see the map) on the Golden Horn, it welcomes visitors from around the world just as the port did in the great days of Constantinople. Neorion is more than a comfortable travelers' refuge in the heart of the city. It was conceived and designed to honor and reflect all of the cultures who have enriched the city and its empires. To stay here is to learn and enjoy the cultures, cuisines, arts and traditions of all the travelers who have come before you.The hotel's 53 guest rooms and suites bring the past to life, with all modern comforts. The swimming pool, Turkish bath, massage spa, cultural library, and museum-quality decorative arts are supplemented with complimentary fine arts musical performances, cuisine demonstrations and cultural events exclusively for hotel guests. Stay with us! Experience all of Istanbul, ancient and modern, right where you live, and just outside our door. ... more less
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