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Help! Hotel Ararat, Empress Zoe or Dersaadet?

Santiago, Chile
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Help! Hotel Ararat, Empress Zoe or Dersaadet?

Hi!

Can anyone help me?

Will be in Istanbul for 3 nights in January with my wife.

We have quotes from the above hotels and are not sure where to stay.

My gut reaction is to stay at the Ararat (only 135 euros for 3 nights, cash price) since it is cheap, well located, has great views and a fire in the winter. Only doubt is abou some negative reviews here on trip advisor.

If not, Empress Zoe and Dersaadet cost 189 euros (cash price for 3 nights) but seem a little more luxurious.

Do I splash out on the hotel or save the 54 euros and put them towards a really special dinner?

Any and all advice is appreciated.

Many thanks.

NY, NY/Istanbul...
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1. Re: Help! Hotel Ararat, Empress Zoe or Dersaadet?

Dear Chinglish: I don't know enough about the Hotel Ararat to recommend it. The TA reviewers seem to think rooms are small and cramped and not cleaned on a regular basis. Why not check out some alternates: Hotel Nena, Hotel Zeynep Sultan, Hotel Sari Konak, Hotel Arcadia, Hotel Apricot. Our intrepid Trip Advisor posters have given these hotels good marks. Located in Sultanahmet, near all the sites you want to see. About the Empress Zoe, it is a wonderful place to stay. Good staff and rooms and well located, well worth the money. It depends on how much time you spend in the room. When I am in Istanbul I only use my room to sleep and shower. I hope this is helpful to you. Happy Travel, LemonLady

Santiago, Chile
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2. Re: Help! Hotel Ararat, Empress Zoe or Dersaadet?

Dear Lemonlady,

Many thanks for your reply - I only just saw it. For some reason I didn't get the typical e-mail you get when someone replies to your post!

Anyway, I have enjoyed reading your advice and posts on this forum very much.

I had indeed considered all of the hotels you mention, but due to price (the money I save will go towards a really special meal), a personal, very good recommendation by Tom Brosnahan (I know you post on TTP too) and the fact that the most recent report on TA was positive (March 2006) I have decided to book there. They have also guaranteed me a room with a view of the Blue Mosque and I love the idea of being able to see that first thing in the morning or last thing at night!

Having said that, when I booked I said that I reserved the right to leave after one night if the level of cleanliness or service was poor.

Furthermore, I agree with you, we only plan to sleep, have breakfast and shower in our hotel since we only have 3 days to explore Istanbul and want to see as much as possible. If it's really cold, I like the idea of the Ararat having a fireplace and being able to warm up before we go out in the evening!

I have attached Tom's report below, in the hope that others may gain from his insight and comments.

"The Ararat has advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages:

--Friendly staff

--Location

--Rooftop terrace with great views (although lots of Sultanahmet hotels

have these)

--Nice artsy ambience

--Some rooms have superb views of the Blue Mosque

--Artistic decor

--Because it is not as fancy as other hotels in the area, prices are

lower

Disadvantages:

--Climb a flight of stairs to the tiny reception desk, then (probably)

more stairs to your room

--Smallish rooms and smallish bathrooms

--Some rooms have no views at all

Mr Haydar Sarigul, the owner, is planning to enlarge many of the rooms

and make them more like "junior suites," but of course prices will rise

for them then.

The Ararat is fine to stay in, but it all depends on what you want.

It's your anniversary, and if you want to treat yourself, perhaps you'd

prefer a place that's a bit fancier. (The Ararat reminds me of the

"student hotels" I stayed at in Paris in my youth...)

But then, when my wife and I travel in France, we often stay at quite

cheap, old-fashioned places, somewhat the worse for wear, and spend our

savings on great food.

It all depends on what you prefer, and how you like to allocate your

travel budget. The other hotels that you mention would probably be a

bit more comfortable, but more expensive (especially the Empress Zoe).

Hope this helps! Please mention TurkeyTravelPlanner.com to other

travelers. Thanks!

Cheers,

Tom Brosnahan"

Finally, the Ararat asked me to provide the last 3 security numbers on the back of my credit card. Nowhere else in Europe have I been asked for this and it worries me a little since with those, they can charge whatever they like to my credit card on the Internet etc.

IS THIS NORMAL?

Many thanks in advance Lemonlady, for all your kind help.

NY, NY/Istanbul...
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3. Re: Help! Hotel Ararat, Empress Zoe or Dersaadet?

Hi Again: thanks for the kind words much appreciated. I hope you will have a good experience at the Ararat. It's location is great and the fireplace sounds neat. I hope the room and bathrooms are clean and the breakfast is good. Thanks for including Tom's post, he's a great great advisor and everyone on this forum sends people over to his forum. Recent poster Meliott stayed at Nayla Hotel: naylahotel.com and he liked it a lot, no fireplace however, but in your price range I think. Bring warm clothes and raingear, the weather in Turkey this fall is not up to snuff, rain, snow predicted this week and I know it is spring down in Chile. Have a great stay and let us know about Ararat when you return. Happy Travel, LemonLady

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4. Re: Help! Hotel Ararat, Empress Zoe or Dersaadet?

oops, forgot about security numbers. I have never been asked to provide more than one security number on the back of my cards but if you have concerns please inquire of the hotel why they want this. I haven't seen anyone mention this on the forum before so let us know what the hotel says. LL

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5. Re: Help! Hotel Ararat, Empress Zoe or Dersaadet?

What restaurants are considering for your splash out? LL

Santiago, Chile
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6. Re: Help! Hotel Ararat, Empress Zoe or Dersaadet?

Dear Lemonlady,

Oh dear! I'm having second thoughts! I just received a recommendation for the Hotel Alp (formerly the Alp Guesthouse) which has great reviews and would only cost around 5 euros more per night than the Ararat. Only downside is that we'd have a sea view instead of a view of the Blue Mosque.

Sorry to be so indecisive...

What are your thoughts?

Santiago, Chile
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7. Re: Help! Hotel Ararat, Empress Zoe or Dersaadet?

Hi again Lemonlady!

The Ararat's explanation is (and I quote):

"If we do not have security code number of the card we should not use that card in Turkey... (if it is necessary)

every single hotel or car rental companies ask that number to make a reservation...

We have confirmed your reservation without security code number but it is not under the guarantee without that number...

We look forward to meeting you

Kind regards,

Mutlu TURKER"

The restaurant I was thinking of splashing out on is the Kiz Kulesi, just because of its uniqueness, eating in the middle of the Goldern Horn, taking a boat to dinner etc. Thast would be on the 10th Jan. I would also like to visit the Sarnic and Boncuk you mentioned on TTP. That would take up our three nights - but none are near Taksim, are they?

Where would you recommend going in the Taksim area, to eat and people watch? Preferably somewhere young Istanbulu's like to go with good food and atmosphere.

For lunch one day I'd like to try the restaurant recommended in the article:

…nytimes.com/2006/…15choicestanbul.html

But I don't know if we'll have enough time...

Finally, I can't remember where I saw your recommendations for Turkish sweets and pastries (I have a very sweet tooth), so would you mind writing them again?

Many, many thanks! :-)

NY, NY/Istanbul...
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8. Re: Help! Hotel Ararat, Empress Zoe or Dersaadet?

Hi: most hotels, car rental places ask for the 4 number code on the back of a credit card. I have given this out in Turkey many times without a problem. They should not ask for more than this 4 digit code number.

I am not sure about the Ararat so I would go for the Alp, very well reviewed on TA forum. The staff is very friendly here and that is important to me on any trip. I recently decided to forsake my long time Istanbul pick the Hotel Daphne because of staff indifference, for example not being able to get an egg at breakfast and getting my messages late or not at all.

About pastry shops, there are tons of them. Of course Saray in Taxim is must visit. But Sultanahmet has wonderful pastry. Tams who is currently there mentions Cidgem on Diwan Yolu, that is the main street of Sultanahmet. But as you walk around you will see lots of shops and they smell divine, so let your nose guide you.

Kiz Kulesi is a good restaurant choice for a splash. Very romantic, check out this site: destinationcoupons.com/Turkey/…Kulesi.asp

I love restaurants in Taxim. My picks there are Haci Baba, across from the French Consulate on Istaklal Cad. , walk over to Nevizade Street, eat at one of the many restuarants there, go to Boncuk, Turkish/Armenian at number 19. Lots of inexpensive places to eat there, lots of young people and great shops. Get some candy at Haci Bekir, enjoy some apple tea anyplace at all, have an Efes beer.

Don't worry, you'll have a great time in Istanbul, I guarantee it. LemonLady

9. Re: Help! Hotel Ararat, Empress Zoe or Dersaadet?

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