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Istanbul Hotel Reviews
With the number of visitors to Turkey growing by about 10% every year, Istanbul's hoteliers have been busy keeping up with the increasing demand. New lodgings, from full-service hotels to smaller boutique inns, are opening all the time, while older establishments are busy renovating and expanding. This means there are plenty more options than there were in the past, but because Istanbul is such a popular destination, it's not the travel bargain it used to be. It's also worth noting that most hotels have started quoting their rates in euros, which makes what might look like a good deal something less than that when paying in U.S. dollars. Most lodgings, save for the five-star hotels, include a full Turkish breakfast with the room rate.
The majority of visitors to Istanbul stay in the Sultanahmet area—the Aya Sofya, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and most of Istanbul's major sites are in the neighborhood, which has the city's widest selection of hotels, smaller family-run pansiyons (guesthouses), and some charming boutique inns. Many of the rooms here tend to be on the small side, and bathrooms often only have showers, but what's lacking in space tends to be more than made up for in character and atmosphere. The downside to Sultanahmet is that at the height of the season, the area is overrun not only with tourists but touts who will try to steer you to their carpet shop. On the upside, stiff local competition means that Sultanahmet usually has the best deals in town; some hotels even offer a 5% to 10% discount for payment in cash.
For a less touristy taste of Istanbul, try the Beyoglu area across the water, only a 10-minute cab ride or 20-minute tram ride from the sights of Sultanahmet. Once filled with rather grotty low-budget hotels, Beyoglu has emerged as an attractive alternative to Sultanahmet, particularly in terms of boutiques and more upscale hotels. Staying here puts you closer to Istanbul's best restaurants and nightspots and also gives you a chance to stroll through Beyoglu's lively backstreets. Istanbul's large modern hotels are mostly clustered around Taksim Square and up along the Bosphorus—the latter is where you'll find the most luxurious, indulgent options.
No matter where you stay, plan ahead: Istanbul, despite adding so many new lodgings, still has a chronic shortage of beds.
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