Four Seasons at Sultanahmet
The most luxurious traditional hotel in Istanbul (unless you’re forking out for the palace suites in the Çiragan), the Four Seasons has been a hit (especially with wealthy Americans) since its opening in 1994. Originally the building it occupies was an Ottoman prison built to service the nearby courts of law: both Turkish author Yaara Kemal and controversial poet Nazim Hikmet were imprisoned here. Standards of service have considerably improved since those days, an irony that the original inmates would no doubt have enjoyed. The building’s history has inadvertently bequeathed the hotel a kind of Ottoman minimalism, with distinctive features such as pointed arches and tall ceilings uncomplicated by the Turkish tendency towards the baroque (prisoners were not deemed worthy of baroque visual excitement). The 65 large rooms are full of opulent furnishings, as well as contemporary fittings like iPod docks and so on. The location, between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, is a history-lover’s dream; the Seasons Restaurant is one of the best places in town to sample sophisticated European and Turkish regional cuisine, plus there’s a killer Sunday brunch to soak up a Saturday night drinking session. And as of 2011, a clever, traffic-evading water taxi link has been installed to allow guests to zip along the Bosphorus between the Four Seasons’ two Istanbul locations. Inevitably, top rates are charged for what is a top product.
The location, between the Hagia Sophia and the Sultanahmet, is perfect. The food’s not bad either – the Seasons Restaurant is one of the top places in town for sophisticated European cuisine. Inevitably top rates are charged for what is a top product.