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 tourists 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.
Picking a hotel
Accommodation in Istanbul is divided into three categories: star-rated hotels, special hotels and hostels.
1. Star-rated Hotels
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 (luxury) hotels offer the same as four star hotels, but tend to be bigger with spectacular views of the Bosphorus or Marmara Sea, and add some more services like large meeting rooms, in-house shopping facilities, more restaurants, etc. All extras the average tourist will never use.
2. Special & Boutique Hotels
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 the Istanbul Insider.
All hotels listed on the Istanbul Insider 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).
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. Hotel prices and bills usually include the 8% value-added tax. Tipping the staff (room service and/or bellboy) is expected and highly appreciated since they mostly make minimum wage.