We chose Empress Zoe based on many recommendations we came across while researching accommodation options for our trip to Istanbul.
It is in a great location - across the street from the Four Seasons hotel and no more than a five minute walk to the plaza in front of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
We decided to splurge by staying in one of the suites - room 603. It has two floors with two bedrooms on the lower floor (as well as the bathroom) and a sitting room/kitchen area on the second floor (inducing a refrigerator). The best part, however, were the two balconies on the top floor. One provides a decent view of the Bosphorus and Marmara Sea (and it is the most spacious) while the other looks over towards the Four Seasons. They were fabulous places to relax after long days of sightseeing around Istanbul.
The beds were comfortable and the rooms well shaded by the curtains. While the suite is air conditioned we did not like the positioning of the units in the bedrooms - they blow cold air onto you when in bed which can get uncomfortable.
The staff were friendly and most helpful. The breakfast is simple and includes two hot items but after five days we did get a little tired of the options. The indoor courtyard, which is shaded by trees and vines, is a wonderful place to eat and have a drink in the afternoon (they do have bar service after 4:00pm).
If you don't like walking up stairs I wouldn't stay here. To access the guest rooms you must first walk up a small, spiral staircase and you can have as many as two more staircases before you get to your room.
As noted earlier, the location is fabulous. If you are visiting Istanbul for the first time you do want to stay in the Sultanahmet neighbourhood so you can easy access all of Istanbul's top sites.
While there is no restaurant in the hotel there are plenty of options just steps from the front door. Beware - you will be accosted at every step by men trying to get you to come into their restaurant. Best to go out with a destination in mind and ignore all others. We had a good dinner at Magnaura as well as Giritli (which is a little further away).
One final note, you will soon discover that you are in a Muslim country when the call to prayers boom out of the many mosques. One is located right behind the hotel and the 3:45am call (the times do change) did wake us up. If you are aight sleeper ear plugs might be a good idea.
- Also Known As:
- Empress Zoe Hotel Istanbul