—Be a Houseguest not a Hotel Guest
I’ve recently returned from Istanbul where my husband and I stayed at the self-catering apartments, Sultanhamet Suites. I was a bit concerned due to a barrage of diatribes on several websites by one unhappy customer, but something about the tone and content told me that the author was----er---- well, I'll leave the rest to your imagination.
So we decided to give it a shot and it was the best decision of our trip.
I am not exaggerating when I say that our stay at Sultanhamet Suites played as big a role as the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Underground Cistern and the wonderful people of Istanbul in making our trip the mesmerizing, fantastic holiday that it was.
Sultanhamet Suites is actually in the adjoining neighborhood of Kadirga. Lonely Planet calls the area a place to just put your guidebook down and stroll around. It is working class with wonderful, incredibly delicious, unbelievably inexpensive cafes owned by warm, friendly owners. There are stores everywhere to buy cheese, nuts, milk, coffee, which was perfect for us as we love to have a cup of coffee before getting dressed and venturing out. We stayed for a week and it was great to have enough room that we could read in the evening, be in a separate part of the apartment from each other, cook a little, etc. Or to put it a different way, my husband and I never fought because we had enough room to spread out.
Sultanhamet Suites is only a ten minute walk to the Blue Mosque, no further than from other parts of Sultanhamet, and perhaps a 12 minute walk to the tram. But, oh those ten minutes. When in Sultanhamet we are accosted by touts, shopkeepers “guessing our nationality,” and begging us to come to their stores. This is only mildly annoying, esp. in light of how wonderful the people of Turkey are. In Kadirga, however, where we are just as much tourists as we were in Sultanhamet, we are left alone.
The diatriber (?) complains that there is no full time staff. This is true as it is a self-catering apartment, not a hotel, but I can say that the wonderful owners, Joy and Aylin, made themselves 10 times more available to us than any self-catering apartment I have ever stayed in, either in the US or in Europe. They were extremely generous with their time and made great suggestions for restaurants, trips, shopping, museums, etc. They left a phone with their cell numbers in case of a problem. Their English was excellent, and they listened carefully to us and made suggestions accordingly. We felt more like houseguests than hotel guests, and it was great.
Make no mistake. Staying at Sultanhamet Suites is not like staying in a hotel in Sultanhamet. You are in your own, large apartment, taking care of yourself. For us, that was ideal. We actually stayed in two of the four apartments. The top floor had an outdoor balcony with views of the Marmara. However, we actually preferred the qst floor apartment because it was so large. Besides, it was freezing cold, so we wouldn't have spent much time on the balcony anyway!
As Nigel Tufnel in SPINAL TAP would say “I’d give it an eleven.”