Let’s face it- if you’re reading about the Four Seasons in Istanbul, you’re probably trying to decide at which one to stay. At least that’s the position I was in before, so I’ll review both hotels in the same post.
Bottom Line: If you’re going for more than 3 nights—stay at both! That’s what we did and it was the right call. We spent 3 nights at the Sultanahmet and 2 nights at the Bosphorus.
Sultanahmet—Pros: Room bigger than Bosphorus, convenient to sight-seeing in historic district, breakfast buffet better than Bosphorus, service/staff in general better than Bosphorus. This hotel was more intimate, more boutique-y, had more Europeans & Americans, more convenient to sight-seeing, within walking distance of many restaurants. Cons: Everywhere you go, someone will be aggressively, although friendly, trying to sell you a carpet or get you to visit their shop or restaurant. It detracts from the pleasure of for instance, an evening stroll. Also, a lot of tourists in this area. I still preferred it to the Bosphorus over all.
Bosphorus—The big pro is the Straits. The hotel sits right on the water and has a large waterfront stake for drinking, dining, relaxing and watching the ships go by. If the weather is lovely, you can’t beat it. My husband and I spent an entire day outside reading and snacking and relaxing and enjoying ourselves. And if the weather is nice—you’ll want to visit the pool area. I think it’s really worth spending one night here to have a day to relax by the water if the weather is nice and that’s your thing—i.e. late spring, summer, early fall. Otherwise, I’m not sure why you would stay here—it’s a much bigger hotel—on first sight it has a WOW factor, but I think the rooms, service and food are sub-par to the Sultanhamet. And there’s not much to do in the neighborhood in terms of strolling and sight-seeing. (And beware- the concierge- recommended a cruise on the Bosphorus on a boat that was old, in disrepair, overcrowded… it was the opposite of fun, interesting, relaxing and not up to par for a Four Seasons guest—so that was a negative experience as well. ) Other observations: many more Arabs at this hotel than Sultanhamet and bodyguard types; we never took taxis while at the Sultanahmet and only took taxis by the Bosphorus; there are often special events at this hotel (i.e. weddings), which can make the hotel feel crowded and/or back-up the taxi/valet line and/or contribute to worse service. Having said that the view is spectacular (although very few rooms have the view—so you have to go outside to get it) and if the weather is nice even if you only stay at the Sultanahmet, you might want to take a taxi over and enjoy one day here.
Another note—this is more for the hotels & as a warning to guests—I’ve never experienced this at a Four Seasons before (I’ve stayed at over 20 FS hotels on 5 different continents) where you check-in and they try to upsell you (or guests in general, I saw this repeatedly as a tactic used while sitting in the lobby and observing the front desk). Generally, if there are rooms available for upgrade that is gratis, but at both of these hotels, they tried to get you into a better and more expensive room. For instance, being led to our first room floor at the Sultanhamet and then asked, “Is this good for you? For a higher rate we have a suite on the third floor.” Or observing a European couple checking in for one night paying 800 euros for a room (already a high price!) and asking if they wanted to upgrade to a Bosphorus view room for only 1000 euros more (or 1800 euros a night total). The couple was clearly embarrassed that they didn’t want to pay 1000 euros more and then were forced to explain themselves for wanting to stay in the room they booked. It’s a poor tactic and reflects poor taste and a total lack of respect for guests who presumably would have booked a more expensive room when they made their arrangements if it was important to them. No one wants to check into a very expensive hotel and made to feel like they are a cheapskate. Beware guests and Four Seasons- shame on you for doing this in the first place.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.