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“Just right” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Hotel Empress Zoe

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Hotel Empress Zoe
Ranked #47 of 1,121 Hotels in Istanbul
Certificate of Excellence
Fleet, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
13 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Just right”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 16, 2014

This is a hotel full of character in the heart of Sultanahmed only 2 streets from the Blue Mosque. The staff are very helpful. Excellent buffet breakfasts. We stayed in the 'separated double' room - ideal for a couple who usually have twin beds and one snores! The spiral staircase is not for those with a problem with heights.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ChrisH1954
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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747 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (175)
Date | Rating
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English first
Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
22 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 4, 2014

This hotel is a fabulous place to stay, relax and sleep in. The wisteria surround I loved, the dark timbered flooring and matching antique furniture takes one back a century or two, whilst the four poster bed, solid but comfortable and with delightful bed linen, tempts one to extend ones lie in. The room and indeed building is spotless, we had no sense of noise intrusion from the busy street below and the daily climb of the circular staircase was challenging but not an obstacle. Breakfast in the morning was perfectly adequate and taken in a marvellous setting; a wonderfully secluded rear garden protected by high walls. Location could not be better with all of the major attractions within walking distance. Staff were attentive.
As for the surrounding attractions I was disappointed in the 6th century Byzantine church, Hagia Sofia, which was converted to a mosque in the 1600s, in the process destroying completely the fabric of this building, both externally and internally, with four minarets added to the outside, along with additional ancilliary buildings. It was converted to a museum in the early twentieth century; a pity it was not restored to its original role while they were at it and all the additional add ons removed. The only interest for me was the unique design by which the roof was built, supported by hidden pillars in the walls; this is in contrast with the crude 'elephant' columns supporting the roof of the Blue Mosque, which I found quite uninteresting and hardly worth visiting. One should not miss the underground Basilica Cistern which is a fabulous piece of architecture and essential to visit. I have to return to istanbul as I ran out of time and failed to get to the Topkapi Palace which is a gem and remains fit for purpose; I suspect it will take up at least one full day as it is something which can't be rushed. Finally I went up the Bosporus on public transport (best way and the cheapest to go) to the entrance of the Black Sea (currently very much in the news, Crimea etc) and while it is a pleasant boat ride there is not a whole lot to see; my primary reason for doing it is because of the strategic nature of these straits and its history. Istanbul is a wonderful city to visit.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank James Patrick B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rio de Janeiro, RJ
Level Contributor
28 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 3, 2014

Not taking into account the AMAZING location, the hotel is truly a home for tourists visiting Istanbul. A friend and I stayed at the 'budget room', which was very tiny but totally worth the lower rate. The highlights of the hotel are actually the common areas: an adorable restaurant space where a delicious home made breakfast is served, the beautiful courtyard where you can just unwind and read a book with a glass of wine and the terrace with the magnificent view of the city's main attractions. The worst part was the relatively dusty room and several cats wondering around the hotel (my friend is extremely allergic to both and spent the entire stay sneezing) and best part was the nicest barman Meri (I'm sorry if I'm misspelling), who gave us extremely honest and helpful tips for the stay. I recommend!!!

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Gabriel A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paris, France
Level Contributor
18 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 1, 2014

We just came back from spending four nights in Istanbul at the Empress Zoe. Our experience at the hotel was lovely. We were four - my husband, myself and our two teenage children. We had a two-room 'suite' - I think it was in the Villa Zoe. It was perfect for our needs. A large double bed - I think it was a queen or possibly a bit bigger - in one room, and two day beds in the other room. That other room also had a table and four chairs, where we could relax at play cards at the end of the day before going to sleep. The bathroom was 'hamam' style, which means top-to-toe marble. No door on the shower, but it was a wide rectangle, so water did not come into the toilet/sink area. Along the wall outside of the bathroom, and connecting the two rooms, was a long countertop/mini kitchette area, which I didn't expect, with a sink and under-the-counter refrigerator, and some plates, cups and cutlery. Our suite was just outside the garden - it was February so we couldn't sit there but I imagine it is wonderful in spring and summer - and we also had a second, private entrance to the street just a few feet outside the door. The price for this suite, including breakfast, was very reasonable. We were happy to be able to all stay together.

The first morning, we were woken at 5:30AM by the call to prayer. There is a mosque, with a loudspeaker - all mosques have loudspeakers - right next door. I actually liked it - with that, there's absolutely no doubt you're in Istanbul - and we fell asleep again when it stopped. The second morning, I awoke to the last couple of minutes of the call to prayer, and the third and fourth mornings, I didn't hear it at all. All to say that you get used to it pretty quickly, but you should take this into consideration if you are a very light sleeper, or think you would have difficulty falling asleep again.

The hotel has internet, which works, but not always when you want it to. At times in the evening, I couldn't get a connection when I wanted one and then did a half hour later. It wasn't that important to me that I went looking for a better connection in the lobby, but if that is a critical issue for you, be forewarned. Again, there's internet, it works, but sometimes not exactly when you want it to.

The staff was very nice and helpful. We arranged through the hotel for transportation from SAW airport upon arrival and to Ataturk upon departure and both times everything went without a hitch. Very nice drivers, nice vehicles, right on time.

Breakfast is good and the breakfast room is very nice. Yogurt, kiwis, tomatoes, eggs - scrambled and hard-boiled, muffin, fruit juice, bread, cheese…it was ample and good. And coffee, of course. Buffet-style. The lady who works the buffet was lovely. We didn't speak but smiled at each other. We brought our dishes to the counter when we were finished breakfast which I think she appreciated.

The ladies who man the front desk are also very nice, accommodating and helpful. No problems there, quite the contrary. And Suleiman, at the bar, is great.

There are a lot of stairs at the Empress Zoe, some of which are very narrow, so if that is a problem - which it wasn't at all for us - this is not the place for you.

The location of the Empress Zoe is great for sightseeing, especially the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, Topkapi and the Archaelogical Museum, all of which are must-sees. It's also just down the street from the Arasta Bazaar and a bit of a walk, but not bad - maybe 20 minutes - to the Grand Bazaar.

I'd say that the only downside to the area - not the hotel, which I rate a great value - would - is that it's hard to find a good restaurant in that area. I could have lived on yogurt the entire time, but my husband and son are always hungry. Turkish cuisine is so-so, not great. I think the best things you can order are lamb and grilled vegetables. maybe fish. Also, on the street where the hotel is, you can't walk down without every single guy in front of each restaurant trying to lure you in. You get used to it, but it's a little like running a gauntlet. Once you do choose a restaurant, the waiters, etc. were extraordinarily gracious and friendly, everywhere we ate. This area is also not great if you are looking for nightlife. I think that is to be found on the other side of the Golden Horn. We weren't - we just wanted to be within a very short walk of the main sights, and the Empress Zoe was perfect for that. There is a list of restaurants that the hotel has put together and left in the folder in the room. But it seems to be a little dated. And though there was very brief description of the restaurants, I couldn't really figure out from what was written where they were. It would be helpful if they included a little map to accompany the written directions of 'up the street' or 'down the hill'.

Btw, I considered the Four Seasons Hotel, which is literally around the corner from the Empress Zoe, but is so expensive, even with February rates, that there was no way for me to justify it. We were very happy at the Empress Zoe and would return.

Also, for anyone considering which season to visit Istanbul, do not shy away from winter. I cannot imagine how packed it must be in spring and summer. I was in Istanbul 25 years ago. At that time, the population of the city was around 7 million. Now, it is officially 14 million, but in reality probably closer to 20 million. It is huge and teaming with people. Do yourself a favor and go in the off season. Everyone is much more relaxed.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Annick123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
14 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 27, 2014

Short walk to all historical places and restaurants and cafes. Great view from the Penthouse suite. You can travel to Beyoglu, Pera with the tram. Staff very friendly. The morning prayer wakes you up but but you can go back to sleep or get used to it in a few days and do not even wake up. Very different atmosphere and enjoyed our stay .

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank BaracudaC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stamford, Connecticut
Level Contributor
22 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 18, 2014

We made our bookings at this hotel solely on the basis of the reviews we had read and I have to say, the location of the hotel is excellent! There were two ladies at the front desk, one who leaves her hair open- very nice and helpful, the other one has a bit of an attitude which could use some correction! The gentleman who does the evening shift is also extremely nice. The only one helper in the hotel, an old man, whose name I did not get, again very sweet. Speaks very little English but will share all his knowledge of what to visit etc. in the few words he can say :) The breakfast can get boring if you're staying there for more than 3 nights. It's the same spread everyday. And very very basic. The room we stayed in was very small (I like big rooms) and an even smaller bathroom. But we had a sit out area and the stairs to the roof right outside our room. The views from our room were gorgeous: of the sea, and from the terrace you could see the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia.
I am surprised no one mentions this in their reviews but you might want to keep in mind the fact that prayers happen 5 times a day. And they are PRETTY audible. The first one in the morning definitely does wake you up! We eventually went back to sleep every day after the first prayer, but it is a point you may want to consider.
The location as mentioned before is excellent. Within 200 meters of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. The street on which the hotel is, has a lot of places to eat at and a small convenience store too.
Overall a good trip! Good place to stay at.

Room Tip: I guess if you stayed at the lower floors, there will be no views so try to stay at the top most flo...
See more room tips
  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank TraveLovers2814
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
annnevans1, Owner at Hotel Empress Zoe, responded to this review, February 20, 2014
Thank you for the over-all good review. We take your comments seriously and always follow up any of your criticisms with the staff. I am mystified about your reference to "the only one helper in the hotel, an old man". This is perplexing since we have a total of 6 receptionists who have perfect English and are generally judged as very helpful. We also have 6 cleaners who also carry the bags and 2 ladies who make and serve breakfast, all of whom are very friendly but do not speak English. Our staff to guest ratio is very high compared to other 25 room establishments. We are working on more variety at breakfast but I do maintain that our selection is very homemade and very fresh. Most of our guests really like it and we get some superlative reviews of it. Lastly the call to prayer is mentioned prominently on our website - it is really not possible to escape it in the old city. The early AM call is the problem one, but they are an exotic reminder of where you are.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
55 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 8, 2014

My friends and I stayed here for 4 nights, the hotel got good reviews by The Guardian and also on Tripadvisor. I think for your first visit to Istanbul you might want to stay here as it's really close to the key sites (Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, Grand Bazaar etc) all within walking distance; the first three all under 5 mins. If you only have a few days in this beautiful city then it's definitely worth staying here as you can get a lot done. Another draw is that the rates are really reasonable we went over winter so managed to get a really good deal. Breakfast is all vege but lots of choice and delicious and the staff are lovely too. The hotel is clean and generally the staff were helpful though depended on who - Binnur gave us some really useful tips. However one thing to note is that the hotel is next to quite a touristy area - cafes, restaurants, shops etc which can all feel a bit too much if you are more into an off the beaten track kind of holiday. Note, on your next trip you might want to stay closer to Beyoglu with it's cool streets and trendy vibe - giving you a completely different experience.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Jayaratna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Empress Zoe

Property: Hotel Empress Zoe
Address: Akbiyik Caddesi, No:10, Istanbul 34122, Turkey
Location: Turkey > Istanbul > Sultanahmet
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Suites
Hotel Style:
#54 Family Hotel in Istanbul
#75 Romantic Hotel in Istanbul
#101 Best Value Hotel in Istanbul
#167 Business Hotel in Istanbul
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 25
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Empress Zoe Hotel Istanbul

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