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“3.5 Stars - Good Overall!!!” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Hotel Empress Zoe

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Hotel Empress Zoe
Ranked #45 of 1,121 Hotels in Istanbul
Certificate of Excellence
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
197 reviews
82 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 175 helpful votes
“3.5 Stars - Good Overall!!!”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 November 2011

There is no option to put half stars and I am not sold on giving it a 4 star yet but I can see how it can easily get there with a few improvements in time. I will start off with saying that I have traveled all over Europe and am familiar with different hotel types from 3 to 5 stars and I understand the differences between them thus the varying expectations that should be derived from each. I am very objective in my reviews but I feel I have to be very careful in this one because I have noticed that the owners are very much in tune with these reviews and can tend to be defensive at times. I hope they don't feel that way about this review and try to use it to enhance a good hotel to make it even better.

I have found this hotel through TA and have started to send emails to the hotel for inquiry. I have to say that they communicate very well, prompt, diligent, detailed and very patient. Great first impression. Not all hotels in Istanbul operate the same way so kudos to Empress Zoe (EZ) for that.

We arrived in the evening and were immediately ushered to our room. Yes there were the stairs but we are a very fit so it didn't bother us a bit. Plus someone is always available to help you with your luggage. So unless you cannot manage these steep stairs, this should not be an issue. We stayed in Room 34. This is a single room but can accomodate 2 people. We did not want to spend a lot of money for a room that we will only be staying in for 8 hours a day to sleep, shower and change. We paid 90 euros in cash and stayed for 6 nights. The bed as you will see in the picture has one side against the wall and a small space on the other side. There is a small desk, an alcove to hang your clothes (no closet space really), a safe and even a small refrigerator. The bathroom is a good size with strong running hot water and they provide toiletries. A full length mirror is also provided which was a nice touch. Its pretty much the standard things you need. The bed is firm not hard and the pillows were fluffy a good ensemble The sheets were good but the towels so so. There are times when I felt that the lighting was not sufficient and it can be hard to read or find stuff which was mentioned in another review. Yes I know its the hotels design but there are ways to circumvent this without compromising the design. This is a really small space so if you are a couple and want your space then add more money and get a bigger room. There were times that we had to open the window because the heating (radiator?) is too hot and we cant regulate the temperature. We asked the front desk and they told us to just turn its counter clockwise but the knob was really hard to turn so we just gave up on that and slept without the blanket. Now for all you very light sleepers like me, Im not sure if this is the room for you. I survived by pushing my earplugs way deep down my ears which may have caused some pain in my ear after 6 nights. Without my earplugs I wouldn't have slept a wink. The room is on the third flr and it is facing the street. A street that has restaurants all over and there's quite a lot of cars and even some tourist buses that navigate through it. Ive been told the windows are double glazed but it really didn't work if you ask me. There's music that plays till 1 am every day from one of the restaurants which I confirmed from the front desk. The sounds of base thumping and vibrating is something that is quite annoying and is heard in the room. I never heard people's conversations in their rooms unlike the white house hotel which had paper thin walls but I heard every door slam and open from the penthouse to the second floor as well as cabinets slamming from adjacent rooms and furniture being dragged. I never heard footsteps though. Keep in mind that I am not dwelling on the morning prayer from mosque across the hotel coz believe it or not, I never got awakened by it except for the first day which is the start of some Muslim holiday. My bf did not bring ear plugs so he did get awakened by it but it only lasts for a few mins so don't get put off by it. Putting this in perspective, if you are an uber light sleeper find another room in this hotel, maybe the one facing the garden and BRING YOUR EARPLUGS!!!! If you are not a light sleeper at all like my bf, this room will work for you. In retrospect, I might have just paid extra money to find a room that is not facing the streets that's what I would have done. Everything I have said so far confined to just room 34.

The property is rustic and charming TONS OF CHARACTER, every detail was well thought of and it shows everywhere. I have nothing but praises for it. The place is also tidy and clean. The location is fantastic. You can walk everywhere. Restaurants as you walk out. A few mins to major sights and the Tram stop is just a few mins away. I could not have asked for anything more location wise. For first time visitors to Istanbul this is an ideal location. Taksim or Beyoglu are good party places maybe a place to consider if you have done the sightseeing and want to live with the locals.

The breakfast is on the second floor. I have to say it is a healthy breakfast they serve, if you want bacon, fried eggs, ham etc then you wont enjoy this but if you want fresh tomatoes, muesli, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, multi grain bagels, fresh pomegranite seeds then just like us you will like their spread. Its a small selection but its the quality not the quantity that counts. I wish the water glasses were bigger coz we had to take 4 trips to the bar to get some. Drinks are not readily available you need to ask from the bartender. Wish they had bananas :)

I have read a previous review that criticized the service being short, non-chalance and not really eager to help. This is an area for improvement. In our 6 night stay there I can only mention 2 people that really gave us very good service and that is Binnur (hope I spelled that right) but she is only available in the mornings. She has a wealth of knowledge and is eager to answer any questions and provide local insights, we really appreciated her help. The second one is Luftu who works in the evening. Not as knowledgeable as Binnur but always ready to offer help with a smile. I cannot say the same for the rest of the people here. They were never rude but lets put it this way, if its not Binnur or Lutfu, I didn't feel like engaging in a conversation so we would walk to other hotels to have our questions answered so we can get the details we needed. No, im not asking for a kiss and a hug or to hold my hand but service that is willing to answer questions in detail and if you don't have it then try to do some quick research since you are looking at your computer and we don't have one. Basic good service skills. Unfortunately, this aspect needs some improvement improved. If it weren't for those 2 names I mentioned, this place will have a rating of mediocre at best in terms of service quality. The breakfast people and the cleaning crew are friendly which is a very positive thing even if they don't really speak english very well.

This place can be a good value for your money if it matches your needs and preferences.

  • Stayed November 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank AlexisRF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (175)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
  • French first
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English first
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
31 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 October 2011

Built to include the ruins of an ancient hamam, this hotel has some great rooms and is clean, friendly and helpful to tourists. Try and pick your room as some are better than others. Be ready to climb steps.

Room Tip: Best to look for yourself.
See more room tips
  • Stayed July 2011, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Nick L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
toronto
Level Contributor
51 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 95 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 October 2011

We recently stayed in this lovely hotel in Sultanahmet and found it very comfortable, clean and convenient. We stayed in the newer section in the Garden Suite and later in the Deluxe Garden Suite when it became available. These were quite spacious, with comfortable beds. Although there is no elevator in this hotel, the Garden Suite was actually quite easy to access through the side-door of the hotel which is higher in elevation than the front door, resulting in only one flight of stairs to climb (the Deluxe Suite is on a higher floor and does require more climbing).

Breakfast was in the garden, a lovely oasis. The house cats are usually to be found sunning themselves on chairs/benches in the garden. The breakfast is quite adequate. However the selection did not change in the week that we stayed at Empress Zoe and I did find myself wanting more variety. WiFi is available in the garden and lobby but can be a bit iffy.

The early morning call to prayer woke me up the first night and seemed to go on for a long time. For whatever reason, this seemed shorter successive nights but maybe I just got used to it! When we closed the bedroom door, the sound was much quieter so I had no trouble sleeping for the rest of the walk. In fact, I quite liked hearing it - added to the ambience.

The staff was generally pretty friendly and helpful but not outstandingly so. Certainly they were very responsive to any requests and did help book some things for us.

The location is very convenient, close to Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofya. You do have to walk about 5-10 minutes (depending on your pace) to get to the Sultanahmet tram station or alternatively to the Gulhane tram station but it's not a bad walk. Using the tram, you can pretty much get anywhere easily. The street the hotel faces is full of restaurants. It's hard to walk down the street without waiters pestering you to come into their restaurant. Similarly, you can't avoid the salesmen trying to get you into their stores. However, just walk briskly and it's fine. From our room, you could hear very little noise from the street other than on our first night (a Friday), but it quieted down by 11pm.

We were told that staying in the New City would be better because of superior restaurants and an exciting nightlife but we preferred staying here - the majority of sights was within walking distance and we could otherwise easily access transportation to get us elsewhere. This hotel was ideal for all of this.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank martha1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney
Level Contributor
11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 October 2011

Almost leaning against the wals of Topkapi, the Empress Zoe is perfectly placed for the tourist seeking the old fascinations of Istanbul. The service is helpful, the rooms full of character and the prices reasonable. Even getting the luggage up the tortuously narrow stairway is handled by the staff for you. Breakfast is simple but fresh, and the bar stays open late.

Room Tip: Some have private balconies, which are perfect for a drink at sunset.
See more room tips
  • Stayed October 2011, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Greg C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Zanzibar Island, Tanzania
Level Contributor
65 reviews
46 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 October 2011

I have stayed at the Empress Zoe numerous times. Personally and with my wife. It is excellent for what it is. It has well appointed rooms that are huge by Asian Standards but a bit small for our American cousins. I like them. they are perfect for me.

The staircase is a bit narrow for some people, but the team always carry your bag.

The mini suites are probably a bit bigger, but for me money is always an issue, so I go for the smallest room. These guys are really nice. Ann is the owner and assisted ably by her sister Tina and they are super hospitable. The team of Turks who do everything in the hotel are brilliant. They are polite and fast and get the job done. But the shining light in this place is Suleyman, the ostensive barman. Read: amateur photographer, eastern Turkish expert and general source of all info with NO STRINGS ATTATCHED. Suleyman is the man to ask for real advice. He's been there for 10 years and does not do BS,

Indeed the whole EMZOE does not do BS. Everything is straight and above board. There is an excellent restaurant opposite called KOSK which is superb and has great staff and food, and there is a herbal tea shop facing which has great non alchoholic drinks.

The area the EMZOE is based in, is Sultanahmet which is historic in the extreme.

Basically in conclusion, if you want a generic room, then stay at the IBIS on kennedy cadessi. If you want a cheap clean room, stay at the moonlight hotel round the corner, but if you want charm, an experience and a wonderful sense of atmosphere at a reasonable price... then you need to stay at the EMZOE.

breakfast is stunning, wireless is fast and free

Room Tip: single rooms can be used by couples who know each other really well!
See more room tips
  • Stayed October 2011, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank turkbalikadam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 October 2011

My wife and I stayed at the Empress Zoe and loved every minute of it. The hotel staff is wonderful and helpful. Our room on the top floor was very comfortable and quiet. Be aware of the staircase climb, but the staff is always willing to help out. The garden for breakfast was beautiful and enchanting, and the food was a feast for the senses. Also, the top floor veranda area was a great place to wind down after the day and gaze at the city and the sea. Everything was delightful and I cannot think of a better place to stay in this part of the city. Also, several excellent seafood restaurants nearby - all recommended by the staff. Enjoy and thanks to Zoe!

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Nelson B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Parkdale, Australia
Level Contributor
19 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 October 2011

Empress Zoe is a supurb little hotel with very helpful staff. Quirky/ artistic rooms with reasonable space & great ambience. Great breakfast in a delightful garden setting. It is an oasis of calm in a busy city.

Room Tip: There are diverse rooms available. Liking the occasional cigarette we chose room 42 with a balcony.
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank AustralianVic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Empress Zoe

Property: Hotel Empress Zoe
Address: Akbiyik Caddesi, No:10, Istanbul 34122, Turkey
Region: Turkey > Istanbul > Sultanahmet
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Suites
Hotel Style:
#54 Family Hotel in Istanbul
#75 Romantic Hotel in Istanbul
#103 Best Value Hotel in Istanbul
#167 Business Hotel in Istanbul
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 25
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Empress Zoe Hotel Istanbul

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