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Sultanahmet or Other Neighborhood?

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atlanta
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Sultanahmet or Other Neighborhood?

I've heard good and not-so-good things about staying in Sultanahmet. I've heard one can be hassled quite a bit and it's very touristy. But, staying there means it's close to all the sites. Would traveling in Dec. reduce the number of hassles?! I'm not a backpacker and want a decent, simple hotel. I usually avoid the touristy areas. Maybe preferable to stay in another area and just take the bus or walk to the sites? Thanks for your insights.

NY, NY/Istanbul...
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1. Re: Sultanahmet or Other Neighborhood?

Hi Atlanta: you won't be hassled in Sultanahmet in December. Things are quiet at that time of year. Taxim is lively and full of shops, clubs, restaurants and people. I love it as Istiklal Cadessi, it's main street reminds me so much of New York. Sultanahmet is a short taxi ride away. Or you can take the tunel, and tram about a 15 minute ride from Taxim (see my post "Getting Around Istanbul). For hotels, in Sultanahmet I recommend the following: Zeynep Sultan Hotel, Apricot Hotel, Arena Hotel, Empress Zoe Hotel, Hotel Nena, in Taxim: the Galata Antique Hotel, Hyatt Regency, Central Palace Hotel. Take a look at TA reviews of these hotels. Happy Travel, LemonLady

Southern Highlands...
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2. Re: Sultanahmet or Other Neighborhood?

I've been saying in Sultanahmet and really happy being there, close to the site and alot of good restuarants. I went over to Taxim and thought it was too much like what home is like, I'm sure it has a good night life there but I much prefered Sultanahmet.

Los Angeles
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3. Re: Sultanahmet or Other Neighborhood?

If it's your first time in Istanbul I'd go with the Sultanahmet because the location is so convenient to the key historical sites (all walkable). I agree with the other person who feels Taksim is too normal...feels like a regular international urban scene (major international chain hotels, etc). I really prefer the village-y, Ottoman charm of the Sultanahmet and that outweighs the (sometimes irritating) salesmanship of the local vendors.

(I've gone as a woman traveling a lone a f ew times, and I when I didn't have a companion, it's like I had a bulls-eye painted on my back. But a firm "no thank you" generally was respected.)

Kayakoy, Turkey
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for Istanbul
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4. Re: Sultanahmet or Other Neighborhood?

Hi Atlanta.

Sultanahmet is THE old istanbul, the place is beautiful. All the hotels LemonLady advises are good.

At the same time as this is the main highlight, there are always tourists around, and the people working in that area are trying to sell to the tourists, but the hassle is little. I am a foreigner living in Istanbul and I never get hassled in my own town, even I am regarded as a tourist and I maybe am because I also like to visit the sites.

Believe me a simple 'thank you' is enough. Nobody is pushy, and even some traders are very good with a good sense of humor they try to get your attention.

Mind 31st Dec to 3rd of January is Kurbam Bayram and many things might be closed, Grand Bazar for sure.

Enjoy your stay!

Cincinnati, Ohio
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5. Re: Sultanahmet or Other Neighborhood?

I had stayed in Sultanahmet and it was just the best for exploring Istanbul. One little local boutique hotel (only 10 rooms) with really nice rooms and marble bath is the Kybele (we had moved out of the Hilton to this place for a more local flavor and it was the best decision we had made).

This hotel is within walking distance to the all the major attractions in town and the brothers (3 of them) are very helpful and speaks fluent (almost) English. They also own a travel agency as well as a carpet (ground floor) and antique store beneath the hotel.

The price is very reasonable (in the summer the rooftop is just the perfect escape but since u r there in winter, I am not sure if it is open). The whole hotel is decorated with antiques that the brothers had bought, with amazing Turkish lights in the dining room (u feel like a million of them are there ! just gorgerous with all the beautiful colors and different shapes). The dining room is decked with these lights and some tables with chairs (each is different from the other as they too are antique finds) where breakfast is served and included in the price. This is also the gathering spot for good home made dinners and back gammon games after dinners !

Across the street used to be a local store that serves the best orange juice (not sure if it is still there) and they also serve a pretty good kebabs if u want a cheap good meal along the way or before heading out to another attraction.

We walked everywhere from this hotel. U wont regret staying in Sultanahmet, we are dying to return !!!

Good Luck

Cincinnati, Ohio
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6. Re: Sultanahmet or Other Neighborhood?

Btw the breakfast served had become one of my favorite breakfast in the world - a spread of Turkish breakfast compromise of hard boiled eggs, olives, feta cheese, dried apricots, warm home made bread, etc

The brothers will accomodate any other request if it is within their means to provide. they are really friendly and very helpful, truly the place to be when u r a tourist.

NY, NY/Istanbul...
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7. Re: Sultanahmet or Other Neighborhood?

Hi All: and de last one: the hotel Kybele is a new one on me. I will definitely go over to see it next time I am in istanbul. Thanks for telling us about it. It seems ideally located near all of the sites. Thanks. LemonLady

Cincinnati, Ohio
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8. Re: Sultanahmet or Other Neighborhood?

hi lemonlady,

u should definitely check it out, we absolutely love that place, it had made our trip to Istanbul the most memorable of all our international trips. It is just the type of place u dream about when traveling to an exotic destination.

It has a bit of the modern luxury but has retain the local flavor and in such a great location ! We keep walking past the Cistern every time we are on the way back or from the hotel. In fact, we were told by the guide that the head of Medussa column is right below the hotel (who knows if that is true when u r led underground and dont know where North or South is !). But else is that the price is amazing for what u get. We had such a great time just hanging out at the hotel and got to know every guests (it helps when there is a game night on a daily basis !). It is a small cozy hotel but very warm and bright inside esp. when it comes to the hospitality.

One note : when we were there, there was a restriction on hot/warm water supply in town so there is only a certain time of the day u will get warm/hot water in the bath room (cut off time was 10 pm till 7 am). I hope that had changed but it is definitely good to check esp. if u r there in the winter !

Enjoy !

NY, NY/Istanbul...
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9. Re: Sultanahmet or Other Neighborhood?

Hi Again De: I am really interested in seeing this hotel. I have to give up my usual hotel, the Daphne, where I have stayed numerous times because it changed hands and staff and quality has plummeted. Read my revised review or forum post on this. Sadly, because I love the location. But Kybele is not too far away from Daphne so I think I could be very comfortable there. Next time I am in istanbul, shortly I hope, I will stay with friends and go over to see the guys at the Kybele. What are their names and if it's ok I will tell them you sent me, if you give me your name, mine is Carol, Since I do a lot business in Turkey I need a hotel that will not lose messages, take taxi times seriously and is quiet at night and provides an area where I can meet with people. Thanks for your helpful posts, I enjoy reading them. LemonLady

Cincinnati, Ohio
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10. Re: Sultanahmet or Other Neighborhood?

hi carol (lemonlady),

I will try to find the business card for these fellas, these guys travel quite a bit (to US too) and I think they know the importance of communication. Not sure of their business services since I was there only for leisure. They have a travel agency business/office in that hotel on the ground floor so I am sure getting faxes and sending them off is not a problem.

I am not sure if they will remember my husband and I coz it was quite some time ago we had visited but sure u can use our names (mind if u email me rather than posting it here ? luv_dim_sum@hotmail.com) if it helps any ! They did say if we recommend anyone to their hotel, they will try to give a better rate !

Btw, the daphne is more modern that Kybele, more like what most hotels are offering nowadays. Kybele is more local, with antiques and simple stuff. eg. antique carpets and cupboards in the rooms, nothing new or chic, just very comfortable and to me, a lot more character as I really wanted a real Turkish experience.

Also, these brothers have a good friend who is a journalist who took us to the most amazing places in town (restaurants, bars, etc) and have the best tips for getting to know the real Istanbul.

How I envy u for ur constant trip to one of my favorite place in the world !