My partner and I have just spent a four-night break at the Sirkeci Konak Hotel, and even in that brief time we were made to feel like friends as well as valued customers. When you arrive, you are greeted with a drink of your choice and personal a welcome by a member of the guest relations team - in our case, a wonderful young lady called Ezgi - who provides an orientation to the hotel and the city centre. Maps of the old town and the public transport system are provided and you are encouraged to ask for any assistance you may require, either within the hotel, or in finding your way around the city.
The hotel caters to an international clientele, and to families as well as couples, and meeting other guests and sharing the day's experiences is encouraged over complimentary tea and simit (traditional Turkish bread, something like a sesame bagel) in the lounge. Facilities include two restaurants, one offering food from around Turkey, one specialising in seafood; a wellness centre including a small indoor pool, a sauna, a hammam, a fitness suite, etc; free wifi and access to a PC with printer; and a roof-top terrace, although this is only open in the summer months.
The location is extremely convenient, as the hotel is just outside the walls of Gulhane Park, originally the grounds of the Topkapi Palace. It's just a short walk around the perimeter walls to access the palace itself, as well as its next door neighbour, the archaeological museum. Other major highlights such as Aya Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Byzantine Cistern and Hippodrome are all with a 10 or 15 minute walk, as is the pier at Eminonou from which you can access ferry crossings and boat tours along the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn (highly recommended!). For those who are venturing further afield, or don't wish to walk, the Gulhane tram stop is just at the end of the street and from here you can connect to buses, suburban rail, and furnicular services. It's very easy to use, and we took the tram and the furniculars up the hill to the bustling shops, cafes and restaurants of Istiklal Caddesi.
Nothing seemed to be too much trouble for the hotel staff. Somehow our pre-booked taxi transfer from the airport was not there to meet us, but the hotel straight away accepted responsibility for the mistake and offered us a free meal at the hotel restaurant to compensate us for the inconvenience. Detailed information about things to do, getting around, and the best places to eat was provided whenever we needed it; restaurants reservations were made for us and our return taxi booking was double-checked on our day of departure.
Our room was not huge, but it was adequate and the bed was enormous, with clean, crisp sheets which were changed daily. The attention to detail continued in a letter left by the manager giving his mobile number and offering any assistance we might require, and a dish of Turkish delight on the bed. We didn't have any view to speak of, but that wasn't something we were particularly bothered about, and we slept well (although there is a mosque very close by and we heard the call to prayer regularly, this did not disturb us). Breakfast boasted a range of Turkish and international food, including a selection of local cheeses, meats, cooked options, pastries, fruits, vegetables, cereals and - my favourite - a slab of golden, dripping honeycomb.
We felt so welcomed and well looked after that we were all the more sad to leave Istanbul, and I would definitely recommend this hotel to friends or relatives looking for somewhere to stay in the city. The Sirkeci Konak's staff are its greatest asset, and their friendly and helpful service is a cut above anything we have experienced in the past.
- 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