Excellent location in the heart of historic Sultanahmet
Within walking distance of top tourist sites and public transit
Attractive guest rooms with authentic Turkish touches
Some rooms overlook the Hagia Sophia or have private balconies
All rooms include air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and minibars
Atmospheric restaurant serves traditional Ottoman cuisine
Buffet breakfast included in the rate
Free valet parking and free Wi-Fi throughout
Airport/cruise port transfers available for a fee
In a pedestrian zone, so no direct car access
No fitness center
Elevator doesn't reach all floors holding Standard Rooms
Sultanahmet’s upscale Ottoman Hotel Imperial is a true Turkish delight. Its coveted location in a pedestrian zone right next to the famous Hagia Sofia is part of the reason; its 49 appealing rooms and junior suites are another -- decked out in dark wood, they combine all of the traditional trimmings with mod cons like air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, minibars and free Wi-Fi. The romantic hotel restaurant, which replicates Ottoman recipes from the palace repertoire, is equally memorable (the complimentary breakfast served there is an added bonus); however, aside from that, guests will find few on-site features. Those who'd prefer something in the vicinity that offers more amenities (an indoor pool, fitness center and small spa among them), should consider the four-pearl Hotel Sultania instead.
Set on a narrow Sultanahmet street, this low-rise property has a typical plastered facade adorned with window grills made of intricate metalwork. Dating from the mid-19th century, the building served as a hospital and school before being transformed in 2005 into a “special category” hotel (a term used by the government to denote spots with particular local charm or character). Renovated a decade later, its common areas look fresh and well-maintained, from the imposing wood reception desk to the hallways hung with calligraphic prints and vintage garments. A handsome on-site restaurant, specializing in traditional Ottoman fare, provides another place for vacationing guests to gather.
In the popular Sultanahmet district, next to the Hagia Sophia
Because it’s situated in Sultanahmet, just a stone’s throw from one of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks, the hotel makes an excellent base for exploring. Vacationers will appreciate its proximity to major historic sites (most of which are in easy walking distance), as well as the abundance of nearby shops, restaurants and other tourist-friendly services. The fact that the area in front of it is pedestrian-only is both good news and bad. On the upside, this creates a quieter environment; however, it also means that guests coming by cab or car have to walk about 100 yards to reach the entrance. If you’ve brought your own vehicle, free valet parking is available; if not, transfers to and from the airport or cruise port can be arranged for an added fee.
Two-minute walk to the Hagia Sophia
Two-minute walk to the Basilica Cistern
Six-minute walk to the Blue Mosque
Six-minute walk to Topkapi Palace
Seven-minute walk to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum
11-minute walk to the Hippodrome and obelisks
12-minute walk to the Sirkeci Railway Station
14-minute walk to the Grand Bazaar
11 minutes by public transport to Galata Bridge and ferry stops
18 minutes by public transport to Istiklal Avenue’s shopping, dining, and nightlife
22 minutes by public transport to Taksim Square
56 minutes by public transport to Ataturk International Airport (50-minute drive, depending on traffic)
Character-filled rooms done up in classic Ottoman style
The look here is classic Ottoman (read moody and romantic), with dark-wood furnishings enlivened by rich russet fabrics and traditional decorative touches -- most notably the pretty ceramic plates and tasseled pendant lights. But despite the scheme’s old-school emphasis, contemporary comforts haven’t been forgotten: all rooms feature individually controlled air-conditioning, flat-screen satellite TVs, free Wi-Fi, digital safes, minibars, tea/coffee-making equipment, free bottled water, plus extras like robes, slippers, and even pillow menus. Irons and ironing boards are available on request. The taupe-tiled bathrooms typically have glass-enclosed showers or shower/tub combos (upper-category ones may have showers and tubs or, in the case of the Premium Vezir Junior Suite, a private marble-lined steam bath).
Note that the hotel is comprised of two sections. The annex, containing Standard Rooms, does not have elevator access to all floors, which may be a problem for guests with limited mobility; in addition, it faces the tramline so it doesn’t deliver optimal views. On the other side, rooms and junior suites in the Premium Sultan category overlook the Hagia Sophia, while those in the Premium Vizier category (some of which boast balconies) overlook the Summer Garden.
A unique restaurant and well-delivered guest services but no fitness center
Although this hotel lacks recreational facilities, it does have a well-regarded restaurant that draws guests and non-guests alike. Matbah’s chefs use carefully researched recipes to prepare dishes once common at the court of sultans; these are then served in four suitably elegant areas -- the Winter Garden, the Summer Garden, the more intimate Sultan’s Lounge, and a covered terrace with views over the rooftops of the Old City (propane heaters help keep the chill off alfresco diners on cooler days). A buffet breakfast, included in the room rate, is served in the first of these spaces beneath a stained-glass dome. Other on-site perks include a 24-hour reception desk with multilingual staff; concierge, currency exchange and dry-cleaning/laundry services; round-the-clock room service; add-on airport/cruise port transfers; free valet parking; and free Wi-Fi throughout.
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