We’re still not sure exactly who recommended the Ibrahim Pasha Hotel but, whoever it was, we thank you profusely. My husband, Steve, and I spent months planning a cruise that would begin in Istanbul and decided to arrive four days early so we could explore a city we had always dreamed of visiting.
After much research, the Ibrahim Pasha, located in the shadow of the famous Blue Mosque, sounded pretty darn good. We made a reservation and, unbeknownst to Steve, I made a second reservation for our children. My plan was to surprise Steve by flying them in for a mini-family reunion.
In a comedy of errors, Steve decided to confirm our reservation a month before we were to leave, only to find out that we had two rooms in our name. Before I knew it, I was trading email with night receptionist Tuncay and day receptionist Dogan, both of whom managed to keep my surprise a secret while simultaneously emailing Steve reassurances that we in fact only had one room.
The day of our trip, our children boarded their respective planes and Steve and I boarded our Alitalia flight from LAX to Rome. Three hours after boarding, our flight was cancelled as we sat on the tarmac and what ensued was a nightmare – compounded by the knowledge that our children (yes, they’re in their 20s but they’re still our children) would arrive in Istanbul and we would be losing a day with them.
We arrived 27 hours later and greeting us was reception desker Fatih. I searched the lobby, no children in sight. Fatih patiently listened as my unsuspecting husband asked about where to go for dinner, then Fatih gently suggested that the bellman take our bags to our room while my husband and I should go upstairs to the rooftop bar. Steve perked up, said absolutely, and we squeezed into the tiny elevator.
Up a short set of winding stairs we climbed and there were my kids, perched at the bar, waiting for us. Everyone in the hotel was in on the ruse – assuring that my elaborate plan to get together as a family for the first time in almost two years succeeded, despite the complications and multiple moving parts.
As we looked around, we realized that the location of the hotel was a picture postcard. The Blue Mosque was so close, it felt as if we could touch it and, over the rest of our stay we developed a pattern. Drinks before dinner, where we watched the light change on the Mosque as the sun set. Dinner. Then back to the terrace for a nightcap where the lights on the domes and minarets made it feel as if we were in a movie set. All this and a bright and informative bartender named Cavit who patiently served us.
Over the next few days, we discovered the hotel is actually a combination of two buildings. Owner Mehmet Umur bought the older building, which he thinks dates back to the 1930s, in 1990 and restored it, then acquired a newer adjoining building six years ago and added it to the hotel. The rooms in the older building are definitely small – if you’re the kind of person who travels with everything you own in a monster-sized suitcase, you don’t want to stay here. If you travel lightly, the lack of unpacking space won’t matter. And, as my daughter said, if you’re the kind of person who wants to stay in your hotel room while visiting a city like Istanbul, you definitely have no reason to stay at the Ibrahim Pasha. There are, in fact, larger rooms – you’ll obviously pay more for them.
The hotel itself is lovely. Decorated by Mehmet’s wife Emel Guntas, who has her own design shop at 35 Tophane Galata in Istanbul, the hotel feels modern without sacrificing the Turkish ambiance. The lobby is cozy, full of books. There’s a lone laptop on a country style table that everyone uses to check email and Facebook and print whatever is needed. The hotel actually has a hotspot for every floor, so you can sign onto the Internet (FOR FREE!!! Take that you fancy hotels who charge for Internet access that runs like molasses!). Most important for me, visiting during a hot and sticky first week in August, the shower was compact but the water pressure was strong, not something I’d expect in a boutique hotel.
Included is a buffet breakfast of fresh yoghurt, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, fruit, cheeses, hard-boiled eggs and pastries, an assortment of jams, jellies and honeys, along with coffee, capuccino, Turkish coffee, and tea is included, all served by two quietly attentive waiters.
Everyone was helpful – and I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Eren, who along with the entire staff gave us wonderful tips on not just where to go but how to make sure we made the most of each experience.
I highly recommend the Ibrahim Pasha Hotel.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Converted from a 19th-century four-storey townhouse, the Hotel Ibrahim Pasha offers sophisticated and modern accommodation and is an ideal place to stay for the first time visitors wanting to explore Istanbul's historic monuments. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Ibrahim Pasha
- Ibrahim Pasha Istanbul