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“Exotic & beautiful hotel with loads of character”
Review of Hotel Empress Zoe

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Hotel Empress Zoe
Ranked #46 of 1,159 Hotels in Istanbul
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 22 April 2012

We stayed at the Empress Zoe the last 2 nights of our honeymoon. We decided to treat ourselves to a suite (since it WAS our honeymoon) and reserved the Chez Zoe Garden Deluxe Suite @ 230EUR/nt. The cab driver had a little trouble finding the place, but we eventually made it & checked in. Our room was in the back building & up a curvy flight of stairs. From Reception, it feels like you are walking with your bag about a mile, but it's really not that far. Much easier when you aren't lugging a suitcase.

The room was gorgeous and was actually the size of an apartment. It had a large bedroom with a platform bed and there was also a small single bed in this room. Small window seats and a desk, as well. Really lovely & romantic. The bathroom was the marble hamam shower other people have mentioned. I never entirely figured out what I was supposed to do (other than just take a shower) and the brass faucet over the hamam bowl dripped all the time, meaning I had to scoop out the old, cold water constantly. All of the toiletries are wonderful, however, and I am addicted to the soap (it's this sandlewoody olive soap that makes your skin feel like butter). There was also a front room which had a table & chairs, 2 more single beds/couches & a sink. Plus, there was a small tiled balcony that overlooked the beautiful garden. All rooms have wood floors and are connected by a hallway.

The bedroom faced the street and could be a little loud (some fellow was talking on a mobile while revving his moped engine for about 15 minutes), but wasn't too bad. Also, the morning breakfast was wonderful. A good selection of meats, cheese, fruit, yogurt, toast, pastries, etc. and very good coffee. There are afternoon/evening cocktails (for a price) served out of this same area & you can enjoy them in the truly beautiful garden. The garden is one of the best parts. There is a roof deck, as well, but the nights we were there, it was too windy to enjoy for long. Fantastic views, however!

I think this hotel is pretty incredible, but the room was far too much, really, for 2 people (unless you were staying a week or something). Especially for 230EUR. However, if you had a family staying there or were traveling with a few friends & you were all sharing the space, it would be a better deal & would make more sense. We really loved ending our trip here, but the other hotel we stayed at in Istanbul was literally a block away and half the price (& very nice). However, I would absolutely return & would recommend this to friends as a unique and beautiful place to enjoy the old city. If you are looking for charm, intimacy & style as opposed to a stark modern hotel, this is certainly the place.

Room Tip: Rooms facing the garden are quiet and may have a small balcony.
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  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank spycygrl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 21 April 2012

My husband, my daughter, grandaughter and myself stayed here for 3 nights from 19th April for a special 'mini-break'. We arrived late at night and were shown to our room which was absolutely lovely with a hammam style bathroom - table and chairs outside - double bedroom - sort of sitting room with two single beds on stone plinths. It was absolutely perfect - we were all very impressed and happy. The staff were terrific. I would recommend this hotel to anyone - for a party of four - i.e. a couple and two children - I would recommend the Courtyard suite - you could also go out of the courtyard suite straight on to the road if you wished (there were locking doors to which we were given a kay). It really was a wonderful experience, delicious, fresh homemade breakfast etc. etc. We actualy felt dreadful because we were offloaded from our BA flight due to a birdstrike and were told by BA to find our own hotels, meals etc. because there were no hotels available. Everyone at the airport was paniccing. I rang the Empress Zoe and they very kindly offered us a room for three people and to make a bed on the floor. Unfortunately we then found out that my daughter had to work the next day and needed a fast internet connection and her own space etc. etc. and were offered a hotel with 2 rooms a business centre etc. Sadly we, very guiltily, therefore had to suddenly cancel the room (only about ten minutes after booking luckily) and the hotel were extremely kind but I felt very bad about this. Of course, whilst the next hotel offered two rooms and very fast internet it was no where near as wonderful as the Empress Zoe - being a somewhat soulless chain hotel. The staff at Empress Zoe were all terrific and very kind - they responded to all our requests positively and very quickly. The kind of service you would expect from a six star hotel!! Incidentally, there is a perfectly fine internet connection at the Empress Zoe, particularly if you work in the bar or in the lobby but it is a little bit intermittent in the Courtyard Suite. Of course we did not need it particularly on our holiday but due to the cancellation my daughter needed to work throughout most of the day whilst awaiting the flight. On another note, I feel extremely guilty too as, although I gave a small tip on the way in I did not tip the staff on the way out due to the rush - I will recitfy this on my return - if we are allowed back!! All in all I could not possibly recommend a hotel more. Go to the Empress Zoe - it will make your trip to Istanbul perfect and give you the flavour of Istanbul.

Room Tip: The Court Yard Suite is fabulous for a family of four - very beautiful and two ways in and out of th...
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  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with family
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Thank arderne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 April 2012

i first stayed at the Empress Zoe in 2009 with my daughter for a rainy week in January and i brought my husband back in 2012 for his first trip to Istanbul. It's an amazingly welcoming and individualistic hotel in the middle of swirl of the the Sultanahmet, steps from the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. Each room is quite different and reflects the owner's personality and taste. A small family of cats preside over the morning rooms and gardens. Take the warning about stairs seriously, but if you don't mind spiral staircases, it's a dream place with Hamman style bathrooms, riotous colors and delicious lingering breakfasts. We left our luggage for three days while we went to Eastern Turkey and the gracious hostess smiled and kept it safe. Strong shouldered young men carried our bags without a murmer. It has a personality, for sure, and i would imagine that service could be uneven, but we never found it so whether we were having a late night drink or asking for yet another cop of coffee and the mysterious delicious pastry.

Below it asks about the swimming pool, and i mistakenly checked it, and i couldn't get it unchecked. there is no swimming pool.

Room Tip: Read the descriptions carefully, ask whoever books the room questions. The rooms are smallish but s...
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Sharon D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 April 2012

We recently completed a six day stay, and chose Empress Zoe based on a recommendation of a friend. This is a hotel which has been lovingly created over a long time by Ann Nevans, a gracious hostess, and as such has the individual taste which is far from a corporate clone, with entry to the rooms up a narrow spiral staircase, a lovely enclosed garden, beds designed by Ann's sister, and a clever mixture of old stone, heated tiled floors, bright colours, and thoughtful design which extracts maximum utility from the space available. We had a ground floor triple right on the back street, so could hear passing foot traffic. This was not a problem however. As for the daily call to prayer at 5:45, well, this is Istanbul, so it is part of the experience. Empress Zoe ticks all the boxes for comfort within a reasonable price. Firm beds, soft pillows. A delicious and consistent breakfast with fresh fruit and yoghurt, an assortment of cheeses, spinach puff pastries and good strong coffee. It is extremely well-situated, a short walk away from the major sites. Ann's staff were so helpful and friendly they deserve to be mentioned by name, so thanks to Hayati, Binnur, Leyla, and Lutfu, each of whom played a role in making our visit memorable. For us the whole week was magical, and a large part of that was having Empress Zoe, a warm, comfortable and welcoming refuge to come back to after exploring this fascinating city. Highly recommended.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank ericwhitetiger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 March 2012

It's in a great location, although being jolted out of bed every morning by the call to Mecca takes some getting used to. I take that back. I could never get used to that and would definitely find a hotel that isn't so close to a mosque or many mosques. My room was fine. Small, on the top floor of the hotel but one of the staff kindly carried my heavy suitcase up there without being asked. The gentlemen at the front desk were all very friendly, happy to give advice. There is a very nice breakfast served every day but I only made it to the ending of one. I'm used to a more plush hotel so this wasn't exactly the right fit for me, but the other guests all seemed very happy with it.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled solo
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6  Thank JohnLosAngeles_CA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 March 2012

My daughter and I stayed here last December for four nights. The very warm welcome soon turned sour when I asked if I could get wifi in my room. One of the reception guys blamed my new ipad for having poor reception while the other guy there was very friendly and apologized, fixing it quickly by turning the wifi modem off then on again. To be fair, the grumpy guy apologized later as well... so weird though and unnecessary.

The rest of the stay was uneventful... had a great time in Istanbul. However, I returned a couple of weeks later and a nasty woman was on reception. I sat while waiting for the phone calls to finish and listened to her shout at some poor person on the other end. Then she got off the phone and began shouting at the two men who were working with her on reception.. some issue regarding a customer... very mundane and totally unprofessional.

I asked if I could have a room for just an afternoon, happy to pay full price, just to have a shower and sort luggage before flying home and she almost barked at me that it would be impossible. I didn't really need to have a room... I was just enquiring... I would never go back to this hotel though... I'm sure there are nicer places and people around Sultanamet...

Having said that, thanks to the one guy on the reception who was so sweet and helpful... the one with glasses... sorry you have to work with those hot heads.

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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6  Thank Mary C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
annnevans1, Owner at Hotel Empress Zoe, responded to this reviewResponded 25 March 2012

I thought about whether to reply to this review as she seems a peculiarly judgmental and easily irritated person.

However, there are a couple of points that bear mentioning:

We let go a receptionist in January (this visit was in December). He was a good person with some very admirable qualities but he was not outgoing enough and did not handle the front desk with confidence. He is no longer with us. The fact that the wifi problem was quickly solved by the receptionist she liked and the other apologized makes it seem a bit trivial to go on about.

Our 2 female receptionists are lovely and polite. I wonder how one could make judgements on a phone conversation (presumably in Turkish) on an unknown subject even judging the party on the other end of the line a "poor person". However, I took this opportunity to reiterate to all our receptionists to transfer calls into the office whenever possible. Also I have noticed that they sometimes congregate at the front desk when the shift changes and speak to their colleagues in Turkish during the changeover. I have asked them to be sure to speak in English whenever possible when guests are in the lobby so that no one feels excluded and to be sure to interrupt calls briefly to assure guests that they will be with them in a moment. This is already our protocol but it does not hurt to go over it again.

It could also be noted that there are cultural differences in the way people speak and their tone, hence the saying that all conversations in Greece sound like an altercation.

Finally, our purpose in having a hotel is to rent rooms. We would not get very far if we "barked" at people wanting to stay with us and told them it was "impossible". It seems obvious that we were fully booked although she does not mention this rather pertinent fact.

We found ourselves scratching our heads as to why she had returned - and then bothered to write all this ?

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 March 2012

This is a lovely little boutique hotel. It's perfectly located, just around the corner from the Four Seasons in the Sultanahmet. The rooms are small, but have very charming features. It's on a great street with lots of restaurant and cafes just outside the front door. They serve a lovely fresh breakfast included in the daily rate. You can walk to many of the important sites such at the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar. The staff are very accommodating. As others have mentioned there is a very steep spiral staircase, but the staff carry your bag to your room, so it's really no problem. It's a good choice!

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with friends
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4  Thank michellebarrett
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

Address: Akbiyik Caddesi, No:10, Istanbul 34122, Turkey
Region: Turkey > Istanbul > Sultanahmet
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Suites
Hotel Style:
#53 Family Hotel in Istanbul
#74 Romantic Hotel in Istanbul
#167 Business Hotel in Istanbul
Price Range: £49 - £123 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 25
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Also Known As:
Empress Zoe Hotel Istanbul

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