We are a family from Vermont who spent several days in May in Istanbul as the first and final leg of our family tour of Turkey and the Greek Islands. I have to admit that I had reservations about traveling with our two young kids, ages 7 and 10, when there are some obvious tensions in the world. However, my worries were completely unfounded and our time in Istanbul could not have been nicer. We really enjoyed being there, and a large part that was due to our stay at the Sirkeci Konak.
In addition to being one of the nicest hotels that we’ve ever been in, the people there made us feel incredibly welcome from the get-go. I can’t recommend this place enough, and we loved it so much that we stayed there on the final leg of our trip, as well. It made our stay in Istanbul so special that I personally can’t wait to go back. I know I’m not alone.
The hotel arranged transportation to and from the city, and that made things easier because trying to get a taxi in the big city is always a bit of a chore. You never really know if you’re being taken, especially if you don’t speak the language.
We were ideally located in the heart of the old section of Istanbul, within walking distance to the river, countless restaurants, shops, and many of the sites that visitors will want to check out, including the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque. There is a really nice park directly across the, and we arrived during some sort of massive tulip blooming whose colors were amazing. Really beautiful, and a nice introduction to the city.
The hotel offers tours of the city, as well as cooking classes. How cool is that? They can also arrange for transportation throughout the city, and the light rail passes within 100 feet of the hotel. I highly recommend walking and taking the train. The helpful people at the front desk can help you with every aspect of this, and offer plenty of helpful advice on where to go.
The hotel itself was amazing, and the rooms were very clean and simply beautiful. We could have spent our entire time inside, though we didn’t. It’s actually a resort and spa, so people go there for a romantic getaway or to just be pampered (not our thing). They have a pool, sauna, gym, and a spa where you can get a massage or have a Turkish bath. We spent a lot of time with the kids in the pool and Turkish bath after a day of exploring the city.
The food was awesome. When you travel with kids, you really have to think about things like safety and comfort, and part of that is knowing where you’re going to eat, because kids can be picky. The restaurant at the Sirkeci Konak had incredible food and the service was impeccable, though maybe a little upscale and sophisticated to eat ever day. We couldn’t wait to wake up just so we could go and eat at the breakfast buffet, which was very elegant and had a wonderful selection of foods, including freshly made bread and pastries, eggs and breakfast meats, fresh fruit, and all sorts of nuts and sweet treats. They really do a nice job with the food, it’s an experience in and of itself. Again, the service is amazing.
There was an afternoon tea time which was nice transition into supper. The guests in the hotel sit together and chat, or you can choose to simply sit quietly and enjoy your tea, either black tea or apple tea. They also serve complimentary sandwiches, or you can order any sort of beverage or cocktail, and there is a light food menu.
We really felt at home, an important consideration when you’re with your kids. Despite the fact that the hotel is a resort/spa, the kind of place where people normally seek out elegance and refinement, they were very warm to our family and really enjoyed having our kids there. FYI, they love children Istanbul, and showered our kids with attention and even small but thoughtful gifts.
I could go on for days about how much we loved Istanbul and the Sirkeci Konak. What a wonderful place to visit, and I honestly can’t wait to go back. The dollar is still relatively strong to the Turkish lira, about 2:1, so you can get good deals. Definitely check out the big sites, including the spice market and grand bazaar. I actually met a family from New Hampshire at the spice market.
When we sadly had to leave, the staff at the hotel all came out to the lobby to say goodbye, and I felt like I was leaving part of my family behind. They even gave us a departing gift, which really made the trip special.
Istanbul is a big cosmopolitan city that is culturally unique, and a great middle ground between Europe and Asia. There is a push to gain entry into the EU, so they are working hard at being taken seriously on a global scale, and I think they’ve accomplished it.
I would encourage anyone who has even the slightest inkling to see Istanbul to go, and to stay at the Sirkeci Konak. We simply loved it there.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We are located next to the Topkapi palace in the heart of Istanbul and from where we are we invite you to explore the mysteries of two thousand years. In hopes of capturing the spirit of the area, our Konak's atmosphere, decor and design take a revolutionary approach in combining 19th century style with 21st century comfort. Combined with this atmosphere, what if we offer the promise of distinctive hospitality? Just imagine! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sirkeci Konak Istanbul
- Hotel Sirkeci Konak