Don’t Judge Hotels by Their Facade

by Istanbul Trails

in City Trip, Hotel & Area Guide

Once you decided on the area your hotel should be located in, it’s time to pick one that fits your needs. A tough choice. Istanbul has been accommodating curious Westerners for over two centuries and therefore has plenty of choices. Whether you want to pass the night in an Ottoman palace, a renovated manor, a traditional wooden house or a contemporary (luxurious) hotel, Istanbul has it all.

Three Lounge in the Four Seasons Hotel

Picking a hotel

Accommodation in Istanbul is divided into three categories: star-rated hotels, special hotels and hostels.

Most hotels in Istanbul are awarded with one or more stars, based on the quality and service they offer. Since the amount of stars is provided by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and may vary from international standards, please keep the following in mind:

  • one star hotels offer merely basic lodging, often rooms without private bathrooms and toilets
  • two star hotels offer basic lodging with a private bathroom (shower) and toilet
  • three star hotels offer a bit more comfortable lodging, distinguishing themselves from two star hotels by providing a bath and adding a TV and mini-bar to the rooms. Often these hotels also have a hotel bar in or next to the lobby
  • four star hotels offer a very comfortable, mostly even luxurious accommodation. Most of them have nice rooftop restaurants, a (small) swimming pool and/or fitness room, a lobby bar and internet connection.
  • five star (deluxe) hotels offer the same as four star hotels, but bigger and add some more services like large meeting rooms, in-house shopping facilities, more restaurants, etc. All extras the average tourist will never use.

Special hotels are not included in the star rating system. First of all there are the restored (historic) buildings, mostly offering Ottoman character. Secondly, there are the Boutique hotels that differentiate themselves from larger chain or branded hotels by providing an exceptional and personalized level of accommodation, services and facilities.

Hostels mostly focus on back-packers and/or low-budget young travelers. I have never visited any of the hostels in Istanbul and will therefore not list any reviews of them on Istanbul Trails.

Facilities

Electricity socket in IstanbulAll hotels listed on Istanbul Trails are safe and comfortable, and the staff is able to assist you in English. Most hotels offer two single beds. If you prefer a double bed, make sure to add this request while making a reservation. With the exception of the special hotels, most of them have elevators. The electricity voltage in Turkey is 220V, utilizing the same outlets and plugs as on the mainland of Europe. Breakfast is normally included in the price.

Chances are very likely you’ll be woken up at the break of dawn the first few days. If not by the imams calling for prayer from their minarets, then from traffic-noise. The first is more or less inevitable and is part of the Istanbul charm; the latter can be avoided by requesting a room away from the street side.

Book in time

Despite the vast amount of hotels in Istanbul, booking a hotel (weeks) prior to your arrival is highly recommended and a definite must during the high season (April till November and around New Year). Also check out my guidelines on how to book a hotel to get the best rates.

Checking out

You have to leave the room before noon on the day of departure. This doesn’t mean that day is lost though. In most cases, hotels have special luggage storage facilities for departing guests. All hotels accept the major credit cards or cash money when Turkish Liras, Euros or Dollars. Tipping the staff (room service and/or bellboy) is expected and highly appreciated since they mostly make minimum wage.

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