Skip to main content

From Waterfront Resorts to Historic Inns, Here at the Finest Hotels in Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is at once vibrant, manic, cosmopolitan, and historic. Not surprisingly, its best hotels run the gamut from centuries-old guesthouses built among crumbling ancient ruins to world-class waterfront resorts with every imaginable luxury amenity. Here are just three of our favorite places to stay in the capital city of Turkey.

Hotel Empress Zoe (Sultanahmet)

Hotel Empress Zoe Istanbul Turkey
Image used with permission by copyright holder

From the wisteria-covered exterior to the lobby ruins to the original Ottoman-era architecture, Hotel Empress Zoe oozes classic Turkish charm like no other boutique hotel in Istanbul. Here, it’s not about luxury, but historic character, and the hotel has plenty of it. The grounds are actually a series of four buildings encircling a beautiful, 15th-century hammam (Istanbul’s oldest bathhouse). All 26 rooms are uniquely decorated and laid out, creating a feel that’s more bed-and-breakfast than traditional hotel. Because it’s located in the touristic Sultanahmet neighborhood, it’s a prime base of operations to explore the city’s most popular attractions. The Blue Mosque, Hagia Irene, and Topkapi Palace are all within a short walk. Don’t miss: The panoramic views from the rooftop terrace.

The House Hotel Bosphorus (Ortaköy)

The House Hotel Bosphorus Istanbul Turkey
Image courtesy of The House Hotel/Facebook The House Hotel/Facebook

The House Hotel Collection includes a portfolio of four designer hotels in some of Turkey’s best destinations, including Cappadocia and Nişantaşı. Located in a small, 19th-century waterfront mansion, The House Hotel Bosphorus is no exception. The hotel was once home to Simon Balian, an Ottoman-era Armenian architect who, along with his family, was responsible for many of Istanbul’s most iconic structures. Today, the hotel seamlessly blends its historic bones with opulent, contemporary elements. Each of the 23 rooms and suites features petal-shaped headboards, marble-and-glass showers, refinished parquet wood flooring, and some even look out over the Bosphorus (a large strait that connects the Black Sea with the Sea Mamara). A beautiful cafe on the ground floor serves up falafel, fresh calamari, and lovely water views, and a private boat is available exclusively for guest use. A few blocks along the cobblestone streets in any direction takes guests to some of the best shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars in the bustling Ortaköy neighborhood. Don’t miss: The Simon Kalfa Suite features a wraparound balcony with stunning strait views.

Çırağan Palace Kempinski (Between Besiktas and Ortaköy)

Cıragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul Turkey Sultan Suite
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If it’s money-is-no-object, five-star luxury you’re after, Çırağan Palace Kempinski is the finest  hotel in Istanbul. Built on the site of a former Ottoman palace, this opulent waterfront resort is the sort of place that invites guests to arrive by car, yacht, or helicopter. The four on-site restaurants are destinations in their own right, even for non-guests, as all feature world-class dining and balconies/terraces with sweeping views of the Bosphorus. The hotel’s centerpiece is a large, heated infinity pool and outdoor bar overlooking the strait; a spa with a hammam adds another relaxation option. Each of the 313 rooms (including 20 suites) seems more extravagant than the last. All boast a decor that’s fit for visiting dignitaries, plus large flat-screen TVs, water-view balconies, and (optional) kitchenettes and separate living/dining areas. Don’t miss: With a nightly rate north of $35,000, the 5,000-square-foot Sultan Suite consistently ranks among the world’s most expensive hotel suites.

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
These are our favorite all-inclusive golf resorts for a dream vacation
Enjoy a luxurious golf experience
Golf resort

Are you ready to tee off on a luxurious golf getaway? Look no further! We’re taking a look at the best all-inclusive golf resorts, where luxury meets leisure on the greens. All-inclusive resorts offer a wonderful blend of incredible accommodations, championship courses, and luxury amenities. Whether you are a seasoned professional or are just looking to enjoy world-class facilities, all-inclusive resorts have something to offer you. Let’s dive in. 
Sandals Emerald Bay, Bahamas

Sandals Emerald Bay is located along the gorgeous shores of Great Exuma in the Bahamas and is one of the best all-inclusive golf resorts in the world. This stunning resort boasts a championship Greg Norman-designed golf course, which also claims the title of the longest golf course in the Caribbean. Six of the holes on this 18-hole course are situated on their own peninsula, providing players with stunning views.

Read more
How do AirTags work? What to know about the No. 1 travel accessory
You should never travel without AirTags — here's what to know
man tracking AirTag on phone

If you're a frequent traveler, you've likely experienced the panic of misplacing your luggage or belongings at some point. Fortunately, Apple's innovative AirTag device can help alleviate those stressful situations. This small yet mighty accessory has quickly become a must-have for travelers, allowing you to keep track of your possessions with ease. 

But how exactly do AirTags work, and why are they so important when it comes to traveling?
The technology behind AirTags

Read more
Lake Quinault’s 33-mile rainforest tour transports you to a fantastical world
Lake Quinault offers a magical outdoors experience
Moss and Lichon covered tree in the Quinault Rainforest

The Olympic Peninsula offers all of the outdoor attractions you could want: mist-enveloped mountains, pristine lakes, rugged coastal cliffs, and one of the best national parks in Washington state.
But most unique is the 1.3 million acres of enchanting old-growth rainforest, seemingly lifted straight from the pages of a fairy tale.
Most visitors flock to the Hoh rainforest to witness the iconic moss-covered trees, but the Quinault Valley offers a less crowded, equally stunning experience.
For those seeking an intimate and informed connection with the Quinault Rainforest, the one-of-a-kind 33-mile Lake Quinault Tour weaves comfort, educational rigor, and unrivaled access into the valley's hidden gems.
Here's what you can expect on the Lake Quinault Tour, alongside helpful tips on how to make the most out of your time in this otherwordly region of Washington.

What to expect on the Lake Quinault Rainforest Tour

Read more