We booked this hotel for four nights for the second part of our week's stay in Istanbul. We had spent the first 3 nights in a hotel in the heart of the old city and the customer service we received in the first hotel was second to none and was in stark contrast to that which we received at the Ajia.
On the day we arrived, we had spent the day completing our visits to the tourist attractions in the old city and had locked our valuables in our suitcases. As we arrived in reception, the young man on reception asked for our passports and we had to undo our suitcases in reception to find them. It was clear the receptionist was not amused; he was curt and monosyllabic. This was our first impression of the hotel which did not improve throughout our stay.
We booked the hotel as a quieter and more tranquil alternative to being in the frenetic city centre and we were looking forward to putting our feet up on a sun lounger (as depicted on the hotel website). However, April is clearly the beginning of their season and there was not a single piece of furniture to be seen on the decking/Quayside, despite the temperature reaching a respectable 20 degrees during the first couple of days of our stay.
We went to the bar to find a solitary barman and ordered two gin and tonics - apart from a nod and a thank you - no further interaction from the barman (we weren't expecting a hearty conversation but a 'welcome to the Ajia wouldn't have gone amiss). There was not another soul to be seen in the hotel for the time we stayed - until the Saturday evening. We dined in the hotel restaurant on the first night. The food was excellent but modern, contemporary cuisine which is quite pricey compared to other local restaurants. We also had breakfast the following morning. However, we felt very uncomfortable being the only guests dining and as the staff were completely non communicative (not even, 'how is your stay? Can we do anything to help? What lovely weather, etc.'), we chose not to dine in the restaurant again for the rest of our stay. It was just too painful.
In the hotel information manual in our room, there was information about a free boat taxi service to take us across to the other side of the Bosphorus. When my husband went to the reception desk to enquire, we were informed the boat was 'damaged' and this service was not available. Instead we told to take the boat taxi from the port (Kanlica) just five minutes walk from the hotel. This we did, but it costs (for 2) 20 Turkish lira per return trip. Not a lot of money but, there was no offer to cover this from the hotel in lieu of their usual service not being available. The hotel manual also suggested that we ask about any sightseeing we'd like to do. My husband asked about boat cruises on the Bosphorus. The receptionist was unable to suggest anything of any use - no information of companies to contact for example. We ended up doing our own investigating using the very sporadic wireless (I had to complain about the wireless connection by day 2 and was then informed that we needed separate log-ins. This was then provided but clearly would not have been had I not asked).
We found that in fact, you can take the public ferry for 25TL from Kanlica and see the top part of the Bosphorus from the public ferry.
The cost of staying (room only) at this hotel - even though we got a deal through the Guardian for half price accommodation, was not insignificant as we still payed 180 euros per night. Had we been paying the full amount - 360 euros a night, we would have shipped out to another hotel as, the room was barely worth £165 per night, let alone over £300. We had a room on the ground floor level with views of the Bosphorus - very beautiful and our room was modern and stylish. Very comfortable bed and a spacious bathroom. However, had we been given this room in the height of the season, it would have been a nightmare as this was exactly where all the chairs and sun loungers would have been placed (had they been available) and, the taxi boats which brought wedding guests on the Saturday night, moored (repeatedly) outside our window.
Having spent the Thursday and Friday day and evenings in the hotel in splendid isolation (clearly no other guests visible) the Saturday was a different story. We'd been out exploring during the day and returned to our room at around 4pm to be informed (via a note left on our bed) that a wedding was taking place that evening and we therefore could not eat in the restaurant but could order food in our room. The staff had not breathed a word of this during our interactions to this point. Had we known about the wedding and had they informed us sooner, we may have chosen to stay out for the evening or, book elsewhere. Because of the tardiness of informing us, that option was not available to us.
Our room was located underneath the restaurant and the music and noise went on until around 1am. We were travelling home the following day and this was the last thing we needed on the final night of our holiday.
It may be a different story if you stay in this hotel in the height of the season. It may have been a different story if we had been paying full price (we certainly were made to feel as if we were an inconvenience). My advice therefore is, this is a lovely hotel for conferences and weddings but I'd steer clear if you're thinking of staying for a restful break. It is definitely not worth the prices they charge for the room per night.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A’jia Hotel awarded by the 2009 Condé Nast Johansens Award for Excellence as “Most Excellent Charming Hotel” in Europe.A distinguished boutique Hotel, a’jia is a traditional Ottoman mansion that jewels the Asian shores of the Bosphorus. ... more less
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