My wife and I stayed in Marmara Taksim on April 30-May 5th. Overall, the hotel did meet our expectations of a 5* hotel in one of the most important cultural capitals of Europe.
Location - the Taksim area is a convenient base for exploring Istanbul. The Taksim area is more civilized then the area in the old town of Sultanahmet, so everything else being equal we suggest you stay in modern part of the town. One should note that Taksim-Besiktas-Kabatas areas represent some sort of cluster of first-rate hotels, such as Four seasons, Shanri-la, Swisshotel, etc. However, while the Taksim location is good, the Kabatas-Besiktas location is even better. The reason is that you can take a boat from Kabatas-Besiktas port, and go almost everywhere - across the Golden Horn to Eminonu, from where you can further go explore Sultanahmet, or to Uskudas-Kadykoy on Asian part of Istanbul. On the contrary, if you stay in Taksim, you should either walk to Sultanahmet (and it's a fairly long walk, and you should cross Galata bridge to get to the old town), or take taxi (and you will most likely spend good part of your journey in taffic jam), or take a funiculer from Taxim to Kabatas, and then take a boat. To be short - stay in Besiktas-Kabatas area, if you are up to a good hotel and want a convenient spingboard to explore the town.
Room - the hotel lobby looks good, but the rooms look fairly shabby. In our room in the bathroom the sink was clogged. If you opt to book the room looking at pictures of the hotel on web-site, you'll be unpleasantly surprised after you check in and look at the rooms in reality. The furniture is old and worn out, the rooms are dusty, etc. The nice thing about the rooms though is the view - take a high floor, either city view, or Bosphorus view. And bring the binoculars with you (I am serious), it's a bliss to watch in binoculars at the large ships passing by thru Bosphorus, or the hisstling little boats. The hotel with the room at high floor (and many of an Istanbul restaurants located at Bosphous) provide such an oppotunity.
Breakfast -during our first day o May 1st the breakfast was not served in the main restarant. And the selection was terrible. We asked to remove the breakfast from our rate. Indeed, there are many good places for breakfast in Istanbul - try The White Mill in Cihangir, or Mangerie in Bebek, or the restaurant in the Modern Art Museum in Karakoy. The latter two have nice Bosphus view. Note that nice view is more important for breakfast then for dinner, as at night you won't see anything on Bosphous anyway, and it may be cold to sit outside on the terrace in April.
A few other advice for travellers: we liked going for Bosphous tour, but not the one that is advertised by hotel staff, but the long one that you can buy at port in Eminonu. Buy ticket an hour or two in advance, as the line may be long. The boat leaves at 10-35 and 13-35. Use the lotion or special creme to protect you from sun burnt - it may be violent. We burned ou faces completely in a few hours at Bosphorus tour.
We also liked to travel to Kadykoy on Asian part of the town - there are some decent cafes along Bosphorus, from where you can enjoy a spectacular view of minarets of the old town. We also enjoyed a boat from from Kadykoy to Kabatas, it costs 3 lyra and it's very nice.
Do not go to the Western Part of Istanbul, especially the area between Fener, Fatih and the city wall. It's a very poor area, and I am afraid it may not be safe to walk there.
Restaurants - we went to 1) Kalamar in KumKapi area (fish), it was ok, nothing special; 2) Restaurant 360 - it was disappointment, very pricy, but I did not get it why. The ambiance was mediocre, the mezes (startes) - too. The kabap and sis kebap were well cooked though, I liked them; 3) Hamdi in Eminonu (kebap house) - very much advertised, touristy and trashy, we did not like it; 4) the Zubeiyr kebap house in Beyglu - very, very nice restaurant, cozy and meat was vey well prepared, recommended. However, book in advnce, especially on Satuday nites. And finally - Turkish wines were supisingly good.
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- Also Known As:
- The Marmara Taksim Hotel Istanbul