Istanbul Hotels, Hostels & Accommodation

Best boutique hotels in Istanbul

Hotel Ibrahim Pasha

This delightful small hotel is named after Suleiman the Magnificent's grand vizier, who had a palace just around the corner, and is just steps away from the historic Hippodrome where chariot races were run in Byzantine times. Wooden floors paired with contemporary furnishings set the tone for rooms that are petite but perfectly equipped; ask for one of the newer, more spacious ones if you want to stretch out. The roof terrace offers a fantastic view of the Blue Mosque, and in winter a roaring fire welcomes guests to a book-lined lobby where a giant Roman capital props up the reception desk. The dining room feels like a Parisian bistro.

Villa Denise

Of all the Bosphorus suburbs, one of the most picturesque has to be Arnavutköy (meaning Albanian village) where the shore is lined with pretty wooden houses featuring the Turkish take on art nouveau. Tucked away just out of sight behind a row of restaurants is the bijou Villa Denise, where luxurious, colourful, Topkapi Palace-inspired fabrics are the order of the day. Small kitchens and microwave ovens mean you can still make yourself at home, even amid the grandeur. There's an unexpected Spanish restaurant on the ground floor. It's a perfect little hidey-hole well away from the tourist rush.

Empress Zoe

If the Four Seasons at Sultanahmet is one of Istanbul's swankiest addresses, the Empress Zoe, just around the corner and named after a much-married Byzantine empress, offers the same supremely convenient location at a fraction of the price. Rooms come in all shapes and sizes – the finest garden suites have their own tiny hamams although rooms in the main building are tiddlier. At the heart of the hotel are two secluded courtyard gardens, one of them backing onto the ruins of a 15th-century Turkish bath. The staff are old faithfuls, and the service is impeccable.

Kybele Hotel

Unmissable on account of its vividly colourful exterior, the Kybele consists of a pair of fine city mansions knocked through and kitted out with an unfeasibly large number of hanging glass lamps. (The owners claim that they kick-started the demand for these lamps which are now on sale in their thousands in the Grand Bazaar.) Bedrooms are equally colourful and equally full of lamps; not even the singles scrimp on the Kybele's trademark feature. The owner's basement carpet and textile shop ensures lots of other interesting decorative twists. Breakfast is eaten on a secretive rooftop terrace away from the hubbub on the street below.

Ayasofya Konaklari

Romance and history seep through the walls of the Ayasofya Konaklari (Ayasfya Mansions) that line pedestrianised Soğukçesme Sokaği, the road between the grounds of the Hagia Sophia and the wall of Topkapi Palace. In the 1980s when "Ottoman" was still a dirty word, preservationist Çelik Gülersoy set out to resurrect what were then derelict wooden buildings from the previous century. Today the pastel-coloured houses that make up the hotel are fitted with the sort of slightly fussy westernised wardrobes, beds and chairs that were fashionable in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire. The complex includes a library that would look at home in an Oxbridge college.

Sirkeci Konak

Meticulous attention to detail marks out the Sirkeci Konak, a fine modern hotel tucked down a street facing Gulhane Park that has just been tarted up to make it more tourist friendly. It has under-floor heating in the bathrooms, Turkish delight on the pillows and a daily newsletter that alerts guests to what's going on about town, as well as Ottoman-themed modern furnishings and a ground-floor restaurant that rolls out a breakfast that would make a grand vizier blush. There's even a pocket handkerchief-sized pool in the basement, a real plus in the heat of high summer

Hotel Daphnis

Just up the road from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Fener, a suburb that was home to many of the city's wealthy administrators in Ottoman times, the Daphnis offers visitors a rare opportunity to stay in a part of old Istanbul that is hugely important historically and yet relatively unknown. The hotel consists of a string of traditional stone houses with high ceilings and frescoes on their walls. A small restaurant faces the Golden Horn across a busy road if you don't fancy joining the locals in nearby eateries that specialise in işkembe çorbasi (tripe soup). 

Anemon Galata

Sultanahmet is full of hotels that pay homage to the Ottoman era. In Beyoğlu (also known as Pera) on the other hand, modernism tends to rule the roost, which makes the Anemon Galata a real find for those who want to be near the nightlife of İstiklâl Caddesi but in rooms that feature Ottoman-style furnishings. The rooftop breakfast room offers a spectacular view of the city and the Galata Tower is so close you can almost reach out and touch it.

Pera Palace Hotel

Not strictly a boutique hotel, but what the Pera Palace lacks in smallness it more than makes up for in historic significance. This magnificent building, round the corner from the stridently modern Marmara Pera, was specially commissioned to accommodate passengers who'd arrived in Istanbul on the Orient Express, and its guestlist is a rollcall of the great and good. Agatha Christie famously stayed here, as did Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, modern Turkey's founding father. The spruce new rooms are not the city's largest, nor is the view the best, but who cares when you can chink glasses in the atmospheric bar where the spy Mata Hari, and royal renegades Edward and Mrs Simpson, once hid away

Sumahan on The Water

To escape the crowds of Sultanahmet and Beyoğlu, hop across the Bosphorus to Asia where the Sumahan-on-the-Water was created out of an old liquor distillery in the pretty suburb of Çengelköy. The building may be old but the lovely light-filled and contemporarily furnished rooms are anything but, and come with every mod con and their own fireplaces. The ground-floor lounge contains one of the city's finest collections of books on Turkey, and don't worry about being cut off from the action across the water – the hotel has its own boat to ferry you across the Bosphorus to the transport interchange at Kabataş.