The Four Seasons owns two stunning properties in Istanbul -- one resides in the old city Sultanahmet, and one sits directly on the Bosphorus. I opted for the old city Sultanahmet location, but have heard wonderful reviews of its sister hotel too. You can't go wrong with either choice, and each has its advantages.
Istanbul has a population of over 15 million and close to 600 square miles-- which basically translates to: it’s very big and crowded. Therefore, if you want to spend less time in the car/public transportation going back and forth to the old city, stay at this location.
The Four Seasons Sultanahmet is located in between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, two giants of beauty and engineering. Talk about prime real estate! Every tourist has these on the "must-see" list, so expect to see some heavy crowds during the day, but as a guest at the Four Seasons you can escape the throngs of people and check out the unobstructed views from the rooftop patio bar. Sit back, relax, and stare. When it is finally time to venture to the historical buildings, it's an easy 5 minute walk. Additionally, it may be helpful to know that the heavy crowds don't last forever; at night, the tourists mostly empty out of this part of town, allowing the old city to grow quiet again (but still lively and fun).
If your vacation is about getting some R&R by the pool, maybe with some sightseeing sprinkled here and there, then choose this location. You can use this hotel as a base to explore other neighborhoods in Istanbul, but you will have a slightly longer trek into the historical center. However, you'll have front row seats on the Bosphorus Strait to watch giant oil tankers pass through.
Simple: I wanted to be close to the famous sites. From the moment we arrived, it felt like we were walking through history. The building itself used to be a prison (which initially freaked me out), but that apprehension quickly disappeared after seeing the rooms. The Four Seasons Sultanahmet design combines the geometric artistry of the region, with the modern comfort of a hotel. And that yellow paint! The whole building is a beautiful shade of yellow that I wish Benjamin Moore produced.
Our room had a balcony with a view of the water, which was the ideal place to sit and take in the sounds of the city. When I say "sounds of the city," I mean it! From our room it was possible to hear the call to prayer echoing back and forth between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. I'll never forget hearing the Call to Prayer early one morning; it was a beautiful sound...but then I saw it was 5am. I wondered why the hotel didn't install sound proof windows, but turns out, I forgot to shut the porch door all the way!
Would I Return?
Yes! The Four Seasons Sultanahmet was a 5 star gem, with impeccable service. On the morning of our departure, hotel staff had prepared a to-go breakfast without us even requesting it. It truly felt like family was looking after us.
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