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Conflicted over Sultanahmet district or Beyogulu area for lodging

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I find myself conflicted over which area to make our base for 5 night stay in Istanbul. I know most on this forum stay in the Sultanahmet area. I understand the ease of proximity to major sights. When we travel we really like to spend evenings getting a sense of the "real" city which we are in. (There's nothing like a neighborhood piazza in Rome for us!) I am less concerned with instant gratification of being near the big sights. I am actually hoping to explore some of Istanbul that is not the major tourist district. Any insights from all of you experts? Thanks again for advice...

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