We visited Istanbul for the first time in December 2012. We stayed at the hotel for 3 nights and took advantage of the free transfer option. Despite our flight being significantly delayed the person collecting us was waiting for us, and patiently waited whilst we took money out at the cash machine.
On arrival at the hotel (at 1 in the morning) we were quickly registered so we could go to bed. We had requested on booking a non-smoking room with a park view, and on arrival we were informed we had been given a free upgrade, and on arriving at our room we had a great view across the park! (The 4th floor rooms have the best views)
As it was our first time, we were keen to stay in the centre of town so as to be short walking distance from all the major sights. The Sirkeci is perfectly located - the Blue Mosque, Haya Sofia, the cisterns and Topkapi palace are all within 10 minutes walking distance.
The hotel staff are all incredibly friendly and helpful and were keen to offer recommendations and travel tips (how the tram works etc). They also kindly telephoned restaurants for us to make a table booking.
The breakfast was lovely - lots of yoghurt, fresh fruit, dried fruits and nuts. There are also a few computers which you can use for free. We also had free turkish delight in our room - yum!
The wellness center in the basement is also brilliant. On our first day there it poured with rain and we arrived cold and soggy back at the hotel at around 5ish. 10minutes later we were sat in the sauna downstairs getting the feeling back into our toes! A great luxury to have :-)
I can't think of more good things to say about this hotel! It's great for a first time visit to Istanbul (having now seen all the major sights we'd probably stay out of the center).
Slight downsides (if I had to name any):
- The area the hotel is in is very much a tourist central, and most of the good restaurants/bars etc are over the river in Begalou - but the tram is easy and cheap so I definitely recommend you head over there for dinner/drinks (Refik is good!)
- We were sold the museum pass (72TL) by the hotel reception (this makes sense if you're planning on visiting many of them), but one of the attractions that we specifically wanted to visit was closed for refurbishment - of course this isn't the fault of the staff, but we did explicitly mention this attraction at the time of buying and we weren't informed by the staff that it was closed. This was perhaps slightly disappointing, although we probably still got value for money from visiting the others.
In terms of nearby restaurants etc, Faros around the corner is nice for a cup of mint tea. But I cannot recommend Kayicki seafood restaurant (the fish was not at all fresh and I think both my husband and I ended up with seafood poisoning!). If you want seafood, book a table at Eleos well in advance
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