Both the hotel's own website and holiday brochures feature the attractive mosque across the street as viewed from one of the hotel's bedrooms. If you're British, however, you are far more likely to be allocated a room that overlooks a central lobby and offers no views of the hotel's exterior. When we stayed there, of 97 rooms in this Spanish run hotel, 90 of them were occupied by people from Spain. I'm not suggesting that the other guests were anything other than courteous and pleasant, but it stands to reason that Spanish visitors are more likely to be allocated the best rooms by a Spanish run company.
I'd read good reports via Trip Ad. of the hotel food before booking and I would confirm that breakfast is varied and satisfying. We had two evening meals in the hotel and these were also of a reasonable standard. The staff, contrary to what I'd read, are very helpful and speak English to an acceptable standard.
One big drawback of the Barcelo Saray if you stay, as we did, in a room overlooking the lobby is that there is constant noise that goes on well into the early hours. Voices of those in the lobby seem to be amplified as if in an echo chamber . Our room was particularly dark, even when it was bright and sunny outside (see picture). I didn't mind the early morning call to prayer from the mosque. This was a cultural feature of the country and we soon got used to it.
We booked our hotel through Cresta City Breaks and paid in advance for transport from the airport to our hotel. We were disappointed to find that, upon our arrival, this had not been arranged. Our alternative means of transport was provided by a hire company based at the airport at a charge of 50 Turkish Lira. We had a lunatic driver thrown in for good measure. How we got to the hotel in one piece I'll never know. If going again, I'd certainly ensure that transport from the airport to the hotel was organised and confirmed.
As for Istanbul, it is definitely worth a visit. One sees sights - men carrying huge loads on their backs or in handcarts - that disappeared in Britain almost a century ago. While visitors to the Grand Bazaar are constantly approached by would-be sellers, they are courteous and will leave you alone if met with a polite but firm "No, thanks." We bought one item in the Bazaar, after which the trader bought us lunch and arranged free delivery back to our hotel so that we could continue sightseeing. Most people are very friendly. The Bosphorus is the maritime equivalent of the M25 motorway, but with a magical quality. Avoid tourist restaurants. There are good restaurants offering meals that the locals use at a fraction those charged at the rip-off restaurants along the lower tier of the Karakoy Bridge.
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- Also Known As:
- Barcelo Saray Hotel Istanbul
- Barcelo Hotel Istanbul
- Barcelo Hotel Saray