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“The perfect place for tourists, not necessarily for business”

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Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet
Ranked #18 of 1,147 Hotels in Istanbul
Certificate of Excellence
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Level 6 Contributor
35 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 145 helpful votes
“The perfect place for tourists, not necessarily for business”
Reviewed December 12, 2007

There isn’t much left to say about the quality of this hotel. Earlier reviewers have stated many of the great features of this hotel. It is rated as the #1 hotel in Europe by Travel & Leisure Magazine.

But don’t expect to be swept off your feet here. This is a relaxing, “aaahh” hotel, not a “wow” hotel. The quality here is subtle, not glitzy. The lobby is understated elegance, but not palatial. The service is reliable and competent, but not obtrusive. The location is convenient, but is on a quiet back street. With only 65 rooms, it is not bustling.

The hotel is a converted prison, and it now captivates in a more pleasant way. The lore on the street is that the disused prison was the site for the filming of “Midnight Express”, but the hotel disclaims that. Apparently, the prison was a small one for political prisoners, and not a large one for common criminals.

Our cell, I mean room, (#418, a deluxe king) was comfortable, but not unusually so for accommodations in the USD500-700 per night range. It was spacious, clean, and well-appointed. The unique part of our room was the veranda with a view of Aya Sofya 250 meters to the WNW, and the Bosphorus to the east. However, the hotel is currently constructing an addition that will eventually obstruct that view. Most of the rooms have an ordinary street view or a nicer view of the central courtyard.

Extra touches included fresh fruit in the room, a flat-panel TV, and separate tub-shower. #418 is in the four-story portion of the hotel, which requires a short walk from the lobby and is served by a single elevator. One day, that elevator was out of service, and we had to walk up, but it was fixed a few hours later.

Breakfast was included in our rate, and was served in the courtyard restaurant. It was cooked to order, not a buffet. It is also available as room service at no extra charge.

As others have stated, the location couldn’t be better, but that applies for tourists only. The Sultanhamet district is the center of old Istanbul, and Aya Sofya, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace/Archeological Museum, and the Cistern are all within a 5-7 minute walk. The Grand Bazaar is about 15 minutes away, but unless you are eager to haggle over jewelry and carpets, it is really a tourist trap that only deserves a short visit. Taksim Square, the main shopping area, and the true commercial center of Istanbul are all a 15-20 minute cab ride across the Galata Bridge. An alternative is taking the tram, which leaves from a station a few blocks from the Four Seasons.

There is public transportation between (IST Ataturk) airport and Sultanhamet, but taxis are the better option, taking 20 minutes or so during all but peak periods.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed November 2007
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
11 Thank PhotoTravels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (288)
Date | Rating
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Hong Kong
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed December 5, 2007

We had a wonderful experience at this hotel. The service was excellent and the room and bathroom were very well appointed.

We had arrived very early in the morning and although our room wasn't available yet, we were offered another room to freshen up as well as complementary drinks/snacks.

The location is superb and you can walk to most of the tourist attractions. It was wonderful to arrive and be able to walk round the corner to the Topaki Palace and quickly start your exploration of Istanbul.

One thing though, is that the hotel was building an extension when we were there that would significant increase its capacity. Just hope that with more rooms its high standards will still be the same.

  • Stayed September 2006, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
4 Thank winnie88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Irvine, California
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed December 1, 2007

As soon as we walked in the people spoke to us by our names, had several people greet us, and then after checking in, our excellent concierge Kemal (who was extremely polished, could be a diplomat) guided us to our room. I have to say I've never experienced such a high level of customer interaction before.

Our room was beautiful, we had a wonderful balcony with a view of the blue mosque, and the setting of the hotel in the old prison was marvelous. Since we were on the last day of our romantic getaway, they sent us some special gifts as well, which we really enjoyed thoroughly. Location is obviously spectacular close to everything in sultanahmet. Room service food was good, although not spectacular, and I really enjoyed breakfast.

That said, I think the hype around this being one of the best hotels in the world led to too much expectation for me. The last time I spent this kind of money on a hotel was at Sala Samui in Thailand(I know I know comparing hotels in Asia to Europe isn't fair...) and that wowed me. Perhaps my benchmark is off (or I'm not in the right age range, or we needed to stay there longer, or we're too boutique-y....obviously I feel guilty not giving an excellent here) but I just didn't feel the value and almost wished I had stayed again at the Sirkeci Konak where we had stayed earlier in our Turkey trip.

Overall wonderful hotel in an amazing setting, but too much hype to live up to. Sorry Four Seasons Istanbul, it's not you, it's me.

  • Liked — Amazing customer service, extremely polished people
  • Disliked — Food could have been better
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
9 Thank ozzyh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level 5 Contributor
66 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed November 28, 2007

Simply stunning.

Location: the hotel is the perfect base for a first visit to Istanbul when you are looking to 'do' the major tourist sites. It is literally minutes' walk from the Sofya church, the Blue Mosque, the Palace (including the amazing Archaeolgoical Museum).

Room: well, I got lucky. Had booked in Deluxe Room (third category up from the entry level) and got a free upgrade to an Executive Suite. Was just perfect, for relaxing, taking afternoon tea, and entertaining. The decor is the usual extremely tasteful (i.e. bland) 4 Seasons style, but with enough Turkish touches not to forget where you were. The room is full of all the usual gadgetry, which is fun, but not at all obtrusive.

Staff: unparalleled. From the moment I arrived at the hotel, the staff (and there seemed to be about 3 for every guest) addressed me by name whenever they saw me, and could not have been more helpful, from the concierge to the cleaners. And none of the heavy-handed extortion of tips that mars staying at certain 5* establishments (not to mention any names, the Ritz, Paris...).

I would think about staying at the Ciragan during the summer maybe - the 4 Seasons is definitely not a resort hotel - but be warned, the Ciragan is a decent taxi ride away from most of the tourist sites.

  • Liked — staff, location, room
  • Disliked — fitness centre was quite small
  • Stayed November 2007, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank sjpoyser
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maple, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
76 reviews
47 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
Reviewed November 6, 2007

I stayed here for 5 days and since I had a very positive experience I thought I share it with the rest of the TA community:

Arrival:

I arranged to be picked up by the hotel’s BMW 7 Series and while it will cost you probably 4-5 times more than a taxi ride, I feel like it is definitely worth it specially after a 17 hour plane ride in my case. I was greeted by the hotel’s uniformed greeter and he quickly filled me in on some quick facts regarding Istanbul while at the same time asking for the car to be brought up. The ride was about 30 minutes to the airport and although driving in Istanbul is rather more “thrilling” than your average US city it’s definitely up to par with places like Rome and most of Eastern Europe so it was nothing new to me specially since I have actually driven in Rome for a few days. I was greeted at the hotel entrance by a multitude of people who all called me by my last name, just like they’ve known me for years.

Check -in, Check-out:

Probably one of the quickest I ever experienced. All the paperwork was done in the car during the trip from the airport (another advantage of the hotel transfer) so by the time I was met by the check-in supervisor at the lobby there was little to do except heading to my room while he explained to me a few pointers regarding the hotel and locations of different amenities. I had booked a Four Seasons Executive Suite but they had upgraded me to a One Bedroom Suite which is a bit more roomy and they also really wanted to try and get me in to the Presidential Suite for half the rack rate or about USD 1500/night which I declined cause simply the One Bedroom was overly big enough for me. Check-out took a bit longer cause they were having issues with their system, although the reception staff probably appologized 4 times in 5 minutes despite the fact I assured them it was just fine and I completely understood problems do happen.

Location:

This place is right in the heart of the old city. Basically expect a lot of commotion during the day with a lot of taxis and tour buses going through the nearby streets, however don’t be afraid of the noise! This hotel is surprisingly quiet and except for the prayer calls from the nearby mosques you can hardly ever hear anything. Special note regarding prayer calls, yes they are LOUD during the day but fortunately our Turkish hosts turn down the volume during the morning call which is around 5:30 AM or so. I never really woke up by the sound in the morning and I could hardly imagine anyone would and if you do, just chalk it up as a part of the whole Turkish experience! Again watch out for cars and buses as you will have to share the streets with them as sidewalks are uneven and narrow not to mention they just simply end at some points in the middle of the road!

Food & Drinks:

Bottled water is provided everyday (at least in my suite, not sure of the regular rooms). The food at the restaurant was good but not really exceptional. Service at the restaurant was very nice and quick although it seemed like they are “acting” at some points and weren’t really fluid but still I say it was good. You could actually forget where you were for a second of two, so I give it zero points on originality which again is expected and not a negative but just to inform you.
Room Service food was OK, again nothing superbly tasteful but very well presented nontheless.
My biggest issue was with the lounge! It’s decorated really rather untaistful and to top it I had a martini served to me in a whisky glass cause they didn’t have any martini glasses! No garnish no nothing! I say this was probably the worst martini I ever had so avoid the over priced bar/lounge and head to so many better ones in the town.

Cleanliness:

This hotel is very well maintained. My suite was spotless! The housekeeping staff meticulously cleaned my messy suite everyday never missing anything. I’m a germ freak and I can tell you this was by far the cleanest Four Seasons I’ve ever stayed in! I actually left a very small tip everyday for the housekeeping staff for such a superb job they did everyday. Hotel’s common areas also follow on the same footsteps. There is always one or two people cleaning something somewhere, always moving immediately out of the way before you’ve even approached them in the hallway, then continuing when you move past.

Service:

Last but not least is of course service. The Turks are generally a very friendly and happy nation and the staff in Four Seasons Sultanahmet are not any different, if not more exceptional! I received probably the most friendly and professional service I have ever received so far at any property be it Four Seasons or not. These guys are really over the top even for a Four Seasons! Aside from pretty much everyone calling you by name, it’s just the general attitude of the staff that makes the difference. Somehow everyone here seems to be genuinely happy to be here and to be of any assistance to you! They make you feel as if they are your family. The concierge team handled every interaction with utmost friendliness and professionalism. I booked two restaurants through them and both turned out to be superb choices. Four Seasons name carries a weight in Istanbul, the two extremely busy restaurants I visited both gave me their best tables despite me booking just few hours earlier and despite being almost a full house! Concierge also gave me good directions to a few shops I needed to check out as well as handled a few itiniary changes again with professionalism and efficiency. Doormen are also particularly friendly here always watching out for you making sure you know where the directions and offering you umbrellas before you even realize it’s raining!

Verdict:

This hotel delivers top value for the $. I see a lot of complaints about how expensive this hotel is, but I remind you all some things you can never buy. This hotel provides beyond what you can simply buy. Stay here and experience it for yourself but be sure to come back and rate this great hotel and it’s superb staff.

  • Liked — Service
  • Disliked — Bar/Lounge
  • Stayed November 2007, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
11 Thank Payam81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mesquite, Texas
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed November 6, 2007

My daughter and I loved this hotel. Everything was suberb. Room was exactly as I expected, bathroom spectacular, and extras like dvd player and a list of dvd, list of cds, and cd player. We picked the bed and breakfast option. Usually this means continental breakfast is included. Not here, you could order anything you wished. Ice bucket and water were refilled throughout the day. Nice fruitplates. Beds were super comfy. Location was steps away from all the major attractions. Staff very friendly. Easy to see why this hotel is named #1 in Europe, #4 in the world.

  • Liked — Rooms
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed November 2007, traveled with family
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank seery1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington, DC
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed October 22, 2007

Fine establishment, with a well-trained staff, located within walking distance of the main attractions. Remarkable that this was once a prison.

  • Stayed October 2007
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank LaborLawyer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet

Property: Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet
Address: Teyfikhane Sok No 1 Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34122, Turkey
Phone Number:
Location: Turkey > Istanbul > Sultanahmet
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Business Hotel in Istanbul
#4 Family Hotel in Istanbul
#9 Romantic Hotel in Istanbul
#15 Luxury Hotel in Istanbul
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet 5*
Number of rooms: 65
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
4 Seasons Hotel Istanbul At Sultanahmet
Four Seasons Istanbul
Istanbul Four Seasons
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul

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