Where to Stay in Istanbul: The 7 Best Hotels

There are plenty of options for where to stay in Istanbul. Depending on what your travel goals are, the best areas to stay in are the old city or the European side, or equally the Asian part. This is also heavily dependent on the budget allocated for your trip.

Photo of Galata Tower in Istanbul

Image of Galata Tower by Hilmi Ceper – Pixabay

A city of 15 million inhabitants and one of the largest cities in Europe, exploring Istanbul should be on any enthusiastic traveller’s to-do list. The rich history and the mix of traditional and modern culture does require a good few days of exploration. Plus, the reason is quite obvious, it’s the only city in the world situated on two continents!

Swissôtel Views, Image by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Finding a good hotel to stay is important for a good first impression and for a memorable stay, and if it’s close by to what your plans here, then bonus! Check out our article on the best areas to stay in. Try Taksim, Galata, the larger Beyoğlu area or even the modern Şişli area if you want to experience nightlife and try world-class restaurants. On the other hand, Sultanahmet is the place to be if you love history! Get lost wandering the streets here and explore the local bazaars and want to observe the local culture in the old city. Otherwise, head to Kadıköy and its trendy neighbourhood of Moda, if you want to see residential Asian side.

As for hotel options, there are literally tons of options, for every budget imaginable — from 5-star luxury hotels in former imperial palaces and mansions to hostels for backpackers. Depending on your budget, researching a suitable option for your stay is quite easy in the age of the Internet. A quick search will give you popular options but a more thorough search will provide better bang for your buck. Nonetheless, if you’re one to splurge and indugle, then our recommendations below will come in handy when you want to decide where and which part of the city to stay in! In this article, we’ll highlight the top hotel options the city offers. Check it out and then make your plans accordingly!

1. Çırağan Palace Kepimski

Image sourced from the hotel’s website

Çırağan Kempimski Hotel is one of the most stunning palaces of the world, now operating as a hotel. Imagined by Sultan Mahmud II and completed during the reign of Abdul Aziz, the palace suffered from the 1910 fire. After years of neglect, it was bought and renovated and now operates as the Çırağan Palace Kempinski — the only hotel to occupy a historical Ottoman Palace.

Image sourced from the hotel’s website

As the palace is huge, there are many delightful options such as the Lilium garden with flowering lilies or with an amazing view of the Bosphorus, or the stunning swimming pool of the palace. And then, there are some of the exclusive suite with both garden views or at the top of the hotel offering a 360-degree panoramic views of the waters in front and of the city itself! Furthermore, the hotel offers at least 6 restaurants and bars, with a signature palace dish called “Testi Kebab” i.e. lamb or meat baked in a clay-pot. Moreover, a “Sultan’s Dinner” experience with real antiques, carafe and an imperial silver coffee tea set among other royal delicacies,  afternoon tea and at least 15 types of baklava!

2. Pera Hotel

Image sourced from the hotel’s website

A hotel with a fascinating history, Pera Palace is not far from Istiklal Street and Taksim Square. Taking its name from Pera, Beyoğlu’s historical name, the hotel is siutated in the area where Europeans and foreigners used to live and work before the establishment of the Republic. Pera was the financial hub of Istanbul.

Image sourced from the hotel’s website

The hotel was built to accommodate passengers arriving from the Orient Express in the 1800s, and built with an elevator and hot water. As such, the hotel has seen many historical figures, politicians and celebrities stay in their rooms including the Austria-Hungary Emperor Franz Joseph, the former Shah of Iran and the British King Edward VIII. The hotel was featured in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express novel and was supposedly written in one of its rooms.

Today, the hotel is one of the best places to have afternoon tea in Kubbeli Lounge and the Patisserie De Pera. Live piano music is offered alongside the afternoon tea, handmade chocolate, French cakes and Turkish delicacies. Other fine dining restaurants include the Agatha and the Orient Terrace, where you can also have breakfasts in the summertime. The hotel’s Orient bar hosts literature meetings every month and live music performances on Friday nights. A snack menu, along with drinks and cocktail varieties are on the bar’s menu.

Not far you’ll find the busy thoroughfare, Istiklal Avenue, museums such as Istanbul Modern, the Galata Mevlevihanesi, the Museum of Innocence and the Pera Museum. (Check out our museums guide here to learn more).

3. Four Seasons (Two Locations)

Image sourced from the Four Season’s Google Maps page

With two locations in Istanbul, the Four Seasons hotels stand out with excellent locations! Converted buildings now served as hotels, one at the shores of the Bosphorus and the other in the heart of the old city, overlooking Hagia Sofia on side and the Sultanahmet Blue Mosque on the other.

Image sourced from the “hotel’s website

At the Sultanahmet location, its rooftop lounge A’ya and the Four Seasons at the Bosphorus’s waterfront terrace stand out. Decorated impeccably, most rooms at the Bosphorus location have views over the city and private pier for greet guests who can arrive by boat. This hotel has 170 guest rooms and suites in total. One of the unique ones among these is the elegant Atik Pasha Suite, the 370+ square meters presidential suite. It’s named after the Ottoman diplomat, whose palace now houses the hotel itself! There are half a dozen dining options, especially in an outdoor setting. Try the Aqua restaurant and its signature dishes of pan-seared octopus and wood smoked jumbo prawns Tajine. On the other hand, in Sultanahmet try Turkish cuisine in the Seasons Restaurant in a perfectly manicured garden.

4. Shangri-La Bosphorus

Image sourced from the hotel’s website

Overlooking the Hayrettin İskelesi in Beşiktaş, Shangri-La offers something unique given its Asian roots and the breathtaking views of the Bosphorus. The hotel has 186 contemporary rooms on offer housed in a historical building.

Image sourced from the hotel’s website

Its restaurant the Shang Palace and its spa, Chi offer a blend of Turkish and Eastern/Asian tastes and sensibilities. Cantonese dishes with unique twists such as deep-fried shrimp rolls are on offer. Other favourites include steamed shrimp dumplings, dry-braised hand-pulled noodles and roasted whole Peking duck. Chi offers signature treatments such as Chinese deep-tissue and Accupressure massages, and indoor heated pool.

Not far, you can visit the Maritime museum just a few minutes away or the Dolmabahçe Palace Museum. (Check out our must-see Istanbul museums guide here). Further away, Ortaköy in the North with a view of the one of the most beautiful bridges, the first bridge and Karaköy with its independent coffee shops and local designer boutiques beckon travellers to explore different parts of the city.

5. The St. Regis Istanbul

Not far from upscale Nişantaşı and Istanbul’s most expensive street, The St. Regis hotel has award-winning rooms. The Maçka Park and city facing rooms are the best for a serene view on the room’s balconies. Moreover, the hotel is also complemented by Turkish and international contemporary art from the celebrated Demsa Collection.

Image sourced from Google Maps

The hotel houses the branches of international and local brands: Harvey Nichols, Brandroom Nişantaşı. Furthermore, privileged luxury boutiques such asTom Ford, Lanvin, Alexander McQueen, Barbara Bui, Salvatore Ferragamo and Cesare Attolini are situated here. Shop your heart’s desire here with a personal stylist or makeup consultation.

It also offers a butler service that’s unique to the hotel. More importantly, it’s home to Wolfgang Puck’s only rooftop bar-restaurant in Istanbul, Spago. The rooftop restaurant-bar’s ambience, live music, views and world-class food is an excellent choice for a beautiful night out. Choose the wood-fire oven pizzas, or Puck’s signature House Smoked Salmon Pizza which is on the menu! On the other hand, the hotel’s Parisian-style Art-Deco brasserie offers Kebab tacos, Chili con carne burger and Sticky Fried Chicken stand out on the menu.

5. Swissôtel The Bosphorus

Not far from the waterfront Dolmabahçe Palace lies the Swissôtel The Bosphorus. The hotel has an expansive view of the city, and views from 16 Roof, the rooftop bar reach all the way to the old city and Topkapı Palace. Most rooms have great views of the waters of the Bosphorus.

Image sourced from Google Maps

As for dining options, the hotel has at least 6 restaurants and bars including 16 Roof. Choose breakfast or dine at the restaurant SABROSA. Enjoy delicate flavours there from Peruvian, Turkish and Nikkei cuisines! Moreover, a separate Executive Lounge only available for executive guests offer all day drinks, tea, coffee and snacks.

The hotel is situated beside Maçka Park offers a unique view of the Dolmabahçe Palace, its Clock Tower, its mosque and beyond. (Check out our rooftop bar guide to find more information). Moreover, the hotel has diverse accommodation with Bosphorus, garden and poolside rooms. Additionally, there’s the executive and suite options along with residences and lofts. The hotel’s signature Pürovel Spa with many treatments, 2 different Turkish hammams and relaxation lounges. A number of spa packages include a mountain stone massage and even include a pregnancy massage.

 6. Park Hyatt Istanbul Maçka Palas

Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons

Not far from Maçka Park is the fashionable Park Hyatt Maçka Palas, it was a building originally built for Italian diplomats. On the ground floor, you can still find Italian brands Gucci and Armani today. As such, the hotel is great for those who enjoy trips outside of tourist traps but still close by to the action. Subsequently, you can wander the streets of the posh Nişantaşı district. Choose to dine and wine in the city’s two most popular streets nearby – Abdi İpekçi and Teşvikiye. Check our our guide to the city’s streets and discover Istanbul through its most popular streets!

Each of the 90 rooms available to book here has it’s own Turkish hammam. Rooms are also fitted by Istanbul’s most decorated photographer Ara Güler. Moreover, a terrace pool surrounded by bamboo is a welcome relief in the hot summers of Istanbul. Alternatively, you can lounge poolside with drinks in hand! The hotel’s restaurant Lounge offers sophisticated flavours such as honey glazed duck, dry-aged beef fillets. One of the most popular Ottoman dishes: lamb chops on eggplant puree or “beğendi” and a goat cheese panna cotta stand out on the menu!

7. Splendid Palace Hotel

Image sourced from the hotel’s website

Another historical hotel built in 1908, this 6th generation wooden hotel is beautiful decorated with its red French windows, distinct domes and a white façade.  Originally, it was built by an Ottoman marshal, Kâzim Pasha on a plot which had a burnt down hotel at the same location. Splendid Palace Hotel with its 60 rooms and 9 suites is located the big island of Büyükada off the Asian side. You can reach it via private or public ferries from the mainland.

Perched atop a hill nestled in greenery, it overlooks the urban sprawl of Istanbul and the vast stretch of the Marmara Sea. What’s more, the New York Times described it as“an Art Nouveau-flavoured wedding cake of a hotel.”

Image sourced from the hotel’s website

This nostalgic hotel has high ceilings and an outdoor pool surrounded by banana trees and with lounge chairs to match! Try their breakfast as it comes free with board. In addition, they offer a bicycle rental and a game room for those particular hot days when you either want to explore the island or otherwise, choose to chill inside. Furthermore, the hotel is a great choice for couples or for a peaceful retreat as the big island is motor-free. As such, it’s the perfect getaway away from the city!