Istanbul Hotel Review – Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul Hotel Review
Istanbul, Turkey

The hardest part of travel is not planning, or buying an airline ticket, it’s arriving in a strange city tired and in need of accommodations for the night. The farther I fly, the more tired I am and the more the hotel search becomes a chore.

With the growth of the Internet, it’s now possible to book a night or two in advance, which is what I finally started doing on my last trips to Turkey. Istanbul is a large city, with an absolutely stunning array of things to see and do. Finding an inexpensive, clean budget hotel was a challenge. I confess I am at an age where I do not like dorm rooms any more, I have moved into the “clean, quiet, basic private room” category. Since I often bring my mother, sister or tour clients with me, I need accommodations to make me, and everyone else, happy. Since I am a not a lottery winner I have to shop around.

Shopping on line for hotels can be a bit scary, it’s true in this world you get what you pay for, and a cheap/inexpensive hotel can be really cheap. Once I booked into a brothel/drug house in the south of France, it was theoretically a hostel. This taught me a lot about advance bookings! Some of the hostels in Rome also came close to this category. Finding a deal for a first night sleep requires patience, computer skills, faith and prayer to the travel fairy.

In Istanbul the center of town � Sultanahmet district – is the most ideal place to be located on a first trip, this district contains all the restaurants, hamans,(baths) and touring sites (Topaki, Blue Mosque) that one needs before moving on to the rest of incredible Istanbul. Fortunately the boutique hotels fill the gap between hostels and expensive, large hotels.

With my previous booking mistakes fresh in my mind, I searched for accommodations in Istanbul. I was really lucky and found two great little hotels in the ideal section of town for touring. I have stayed in both of them, as have my family and clients and we have all been really happy. I am breaking the rules of a travel escort by publishing my finds, escorts usually don’t tell where they stay, but I have had a lot of emails asking me where to stay in Istanbul since I have been writing articles for Boots.

“Boutique ” hotels are a new idea, they are older buildings that have been renovated for small groups and independent travelers, travelers like myself, who are willing to pay a little more for a super clean quiet room. All across Turkey it is possible to find these nice little hotels.

My top two picks for clean, safe, hot water, quiet, incredible view from the terrace, and fantastic helpful staff, are the Side Hotel and Pension, and the Apricot Hotel.

They are both budget, “Boutique” hotels that offer a lot of service for the price. My sister prefers the Side Hotel, but I love the breakfast at the Apricot, just down the street. I adore the view off the breakfast terrace onto the straits of the Bosphorus. The best part of the trip is waking up in Istanbul at the Apricot Hotel, going up stairs to incredible Turkish yogurt with fruit and sitting down to clean starched table linen and watching the freighters in the straits below. The Blue Mosque is visible out the window. So my sister and I flip a coin to pick a hotel every time we go to Istanbul. We win every time.

So how much is more does a cut above a hostel/dorm cost? Single rooms in 2004 were 35 euros a night with breakfast, doubles were 44 -55 euros a night. (Apricot). Taxes and the incredible breakfast included. The Side has a much more complex rate plan depending on where you stay and the season. It looks like it averages about 25 euros a person, last year rates, including breakfast and taxes. For a large city, these costs were very reasonable, especially considering all the service and assistance that I use in a hotel. Hotels right next door where 80$ �100$ a night.

On top of the room bill I also include a tip for the desk clerks, breakfast servers and room cleaners. I realize this is an American custom, but I have found it to be one of the best customs Americans have exported.

Travel on in Joy and Peace.

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