The best places to stay in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)


Golden Horn Hotel

Central to monumental Sultanahmet sights, unsurpassed rooftop view; 58 tiny rooms in quasi-British Colonial style. Scant steps from the stunning and multi-columned sixth-century Byzantine water repository. Binbirdirek Meydanı Sokak 1, Sultanahmet; tel. 90 212 518 1717.

Hotel Nomade

Artsy 16-room hotel established in 1984 by polyglot sisters Esra and Hamra. Rooftop café with view of Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. “Wood and mosaic minimalist decor softened by a cozy, feminine touch. Female owners make it a comfortable place for single women. Gay friendly.”—Buket Uzuner, author, The Istanbullites. Divanyolu Caddesi, Ticarethane Sokak 15, Sultanahmet; tel. 90 212 511 1296.


Grand Hotel de Londres/Büyük Londra Oteli

Restored 1892 hotel for travelers on the Orient Express; 54 rooms. Ernest Hemingway on the registry of famous guests. Quirky decor, including antique braziers, birdcages, and gramophones. “A favorite filming location for movie makers like Turkish director Fatih Akın, best-screenplay winner at Cannes.”—Cağdaş Ertuna, editor, Istanbul Life. Meşrutiyet Caddesi 117, Tepebaşı, Beyoğlu; tel. 90 212 245 0670.

Ayasofya Konakları

“Nineteenth century-style town houses down a cobbled lane in the shadow of Hagia Sophia’s 1,500-year-old domes—close enough to envision the mosque's Christian creators, Byzantine Emperors Theodora and Justinian.”—Nurdoğan Şengüler, founder, Les Arts Turcs, community of international artists, performers, journalists, and cultural experts. The 63 rooms include paşa (deluxe) suites with small hamam (Turkish bath). Soğukceşme Sokak, Sultanahmet; tel. 90 212 513 3660.

Empress Zoe

Named after one of the few female Byzantium rulers. Centrally located budget favorite, with 25 rooms and a view of the historic district and Sea of Marmara. Several suites in annex buildings surrounding the private archaeological garden. Run by an American woman. Akbıyık Caddesi 4, Sultanahmet; tel. 90 212 518 2504.

Taxim Hill

Original sandstone facade enclosing a reconstructed interior designed as a modern echo of its history—rich wood, velvet jacquard upholstery, softly patterned wallpaper. Located at the center of bustling downtown on the main pedestrian thoroughfare. Its Taksimoda Café is a popular meeting place and serves international cuisine; 58 rooms and suites with views of Bosphorus or “Independence Square.” Near metro and bus hub. Sıraselviler Caddesi 5, Taksim; tel. 90 212 334 8500.

Green House/Yeşil Ev

Winner of the 1984 Europa Nostra (pan-European Federation for Cultural Heritage) Medal. Somewhat dowdy but elegant rebuilt Ottoman mansion with 19 rooms; brass beds, ornate wooden wardrobes. The Paşa suite marble bathroom boasts hand-painted iznik tiles. Masterpiece of attorney Çelik Gülersoy, champion of laws to protect and refurbish major Istanbul landmarks. Secluded 2,691-square-foot (250-square-meter) garden around a pink porphyry fountain. Kabasakal Caddesi 5, Sultanahmet; tel. 90 212 517 6785.


Radisson SAS Bosphorus Hotel

Opened in 2006. Five-star, 120-room hotel in the quaint cobbled lanes of Ortaköy—waterfront neighborhood known for its street market, tea gardens, restaurants, nightclubs. Catch a ferry to any part of Istanbul from the nearby dock. Çirağan Caddesi 46, Ortaköy; tel. 90 212 310 1500.

Hilton Hotel

Oldest existing Hilton outside of the Americas remains the top downtown luxury location. The cubical 498-room complex is within walking distance of shopping, concert halls, conference facilities. Indoor and outdoor pools. Unique for its 15 acres (60,000 square meters) of sprawling gardens. “One of the few green spaces in the crowded city center.”—David Judson, editor, Turkish Daily News. Well-appointed hamam. Cumhuriyet Caddesi, Harbiye; tel. 90 212 315 6000.

Ansen Suites 130

Chic and understated ten-room boutique hotel in a renovated Ottoman apartment building. Business guests use in-room kitchens for homey long-term stays. Scandinavian designed wood, leather, stone, and chrome geometrics characterize the minimalist bar and 538-square-foot (50-square-meter) rooms. Around the corner from the Pera Museum, home to more than 300 Orientalist paintings, including the $3.5 million Osman Hamdi masterpiece, “The Tortoise Trainer.” Meşrutiyet Caddesi 130, Tepebaşı, Tünel; tel. 90 212 245 8808.

Sumahan–On the Water

Serene boutique hotel on Asian shore. Named “One of the Best New Hotels in the World 2005” by Luxury Travel Magazine. Renovated former raki (anise-flavored aperitif) distillery. Eighteen rooms, some with Turkish baths; duplex suites open on private Bosporus garden. Seafood restaurant Kordon serves exceptionally fresh fare; lakerda (tender bonito preserved in salt) is recommended. Water shuttle service. Kuleli Caddesi 51, Çengelköy; tel. 90 216 442 8000.

Four Seasons

Century-old neoclassic former prison, now the height of luxury; 65 rooms, including 11 suites; rich, imperial interior. Pointed-arch windows and corridors, rooftop café on balustraded ramparts between lead-roofed towers. Center of the historic peninsula surrounded by Istanbul’s treasures of empire: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque. Second location opens in 2008 in Beşiktaş on the Bosporus. Tevkifhane Sokak 1, Sultanahmet; tel. 90 212 638 8200.


A'jia Hotel

Deluxe hideout on the Asian-side waterfront, removed from downtown commotion. “Where the very chic go to relax.”—Atıl Kutoğlu, top Turkish fashion designer. Historic 16-room Ahmet Rasim Paşa mansion; classical wooden exterior countered by understated, modern interior in muted neutrals; in-room massage service and complimentary use of speed boat as well as Bosporus shuttle service. Çubuklu Caddesi 27, Kanlıca; tel. 90 216 413 9300.

Çırağan Palace Kempinski

Neo-Gothic 19th-century imperial palace with 315 rooms. “Utter decadence on the best spot of the Bosporus. Outstanding palace suites and grand ball room.”—Kerem Görsev, internationally renowned Turkish jazz pianist. Tip: Request a palace room rather than one in the modern annex. Çırağan Caddesi 32, Beşiktaş; tel. 90 212 326 4646.

Les Ottomans

Opened in 2006, member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Refurbished 1790 waterfront mansion. “Ten opulent suites of Ottoman baroque.”—Guy Lamontagne, director, Istanbul’s LaSalle International Academy fashion school. Mother-of-pearl tesserae-inlaid furniture, arabesquely ornamented ceilings, antique gold-embroidered velvets, silk shantung duvets. Hot spot for international celebrities. Indulgent spa, ornate marble hamam. Muallim Naci Caddesi 68, Kuruçeşme; tel. 90 212 359 1500.


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