So take me back to Constantinople… isn’t that how the line goes in that song from the 1950s? I always find myself humming that swing classic when I’m thinking about Turkey’s biggest city, Istanbul. It’s a beautiful city that is always busy, day and night. Did you know that Istanbul has some of the hippest and most upscale hotels in Europe? Or, that there is a very large contemporary arts scene in the city?
Some close friends visited Istanbul last month to attend the opening of an art gallery and to take a few relaxing days away from the offices back in London. I asked them to scope out a few of the hotels and report back what they found. We were looking for good prices (a very important bit because hotels in this city can be incredibly expensive), nice facilities, maybe a little quirkiness, and of course great locations. They came back with quite a list, and I selected two to share with you here.
The first hotel on the short-list is the Pendik Residence. This isn’t a luxury hotel by any means; it is a simple boutique hotel located between Istanbul and Kocaeli. This places it about 10 kilometres from the Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, and there is a train station just 200 metres from the front door of the hotel. A few of the features that drew me to this place include the fact that there is high speed internet available in every room, a must these days. Also, and this is somewhat unusual for a hotel, there is a washing machine in each room as well as a fitted kitchen area with dishwasher, refrigerator, sink, microwave and so on. This is the kind of place that makes a stay in a foreign city feel just that little bit more like home. Sure it’s a bit of a distance outside the old city centre, but for the price at around 50 Euros per night, you can’t complain. This one is definitely going on my own personal short-list for my next visit to Istanbul.
The second hotel I selected is a bit higher priced, located in very heart of the city, and is called the Marmara Taksim. My friends actually stayed in this hotel while they were in Istanbul, and they said it was fantastic. This hotel combines all the features I look for in a great place to stay be it for business or for the pampering and royal treatment you get at a luxurious spa. All the sights you want to see in the city are within walking distance… the Hagia Sophia, the Galatia Tower… you name it, it’s right there. The rooms look out of the Bosporus where you can watch the ships passing by.
Hmmm all this talk about Istanbul makes me want to go book my flights and hotel right now.