The third metropolis in the world after New York and London, Istanbul is graced with two Four Seasons Hotels properties, specifically a heritage property in the Old Town and a palace style building and complex on the Bosphorus.
Each property enjoys stunning locations, providing the most comprehensive experience of Istanbul, Four Seasons Istanbul at Bosphorus, with a location directly on the Bosphorus with spectacular panoramic views of the strait and the Old Town which is home to the iconic heritage Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet, which is housed within a re-converted previous jail.
Ever since the opening, both properties have firmly established themselves at the top of Istanbul’s finest luxury hotels, not only because of their unique locations but also because of the highest standard of service, which has been consistently maintained and till today, I can confidently say that both hotels can be placed in a league of their own, without any immediate direct competitor. Highly experienced veteran luxury hotelier Tarek Mourad has been instrumental in ensuring the two Four Seasons properties remain market leaders despite any market context or new competitors.
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet is predominantly a leisure hotel, with a heritage building that today resembles a palace, a heaven of tranquility in the bustling old town which invites for unique strolls through the small cobbled streets. The area is also rife not only with souvenir shops and local Turkish manufactured items, but also with excellent restaurants, from those in buildings on then roof-top therefore commanding views of the sea and the smaller ‘tavern’ like ones which serve more authentic cuisine with the most personal approach.
The first jail of its kind in Istanbul, Sultanahmet Prison was located next to the city courthouse. Along with the usual male prisoners, women and youths were occasionally detained here, along with a number of famous artists and political figures, including Mihri Belli, a communist leader; Orhan Kemal, a novelist; and Aziz Nesin, a controversial humorist who published over 100 books.
There are still elements of the original prison structure throughout the hotel such as: hand-painted tiles in the lobby and reception areas as the floor tiles by the elevator; original wooden doors and arched hallways; marble pillars, some with carvings by inmates as well as the landscaped courtyard, which once served an exercise yard. The courtyard is today a beautifully manicured garden with many bright coloured flowers which are blooming regardless of the season.
With less than 70 rooms and suites, Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahment instills a deeply residential fee – warm, cozy and homey. The interiors have been carefully conceived to reflect this home feeling, the hotel having been extremely well maintained from opening. All the rooms and suites are equipped with the immensely comfortable Four Seasons Signature Bed.
This is further enhanced by the very warm and personalised service one is approached by from the moment of entering the doors of the property or even earlier, if you ordered an airport Greet & Meet service. It is totally worth, considering that a Four Seasons representative is waiting for you at the exit of the aircraft whisking you in minutes throughout the airport to reach the hotel limousine in minutes. Service throughout the entire hotel is also genuine and heart-felt, most of the staff going out of their way to satisfy the needs and expectations of the most discerning guests. Be prepared to be surprised with small details that staff anticipate and they will remember the smallest details about your likes or dislikes.
Similarly to other Four Seasons properties around the world, Four Seasons Sultanahmet boasts large marble bathrooms (many with daylight), with a separate glass enclosed walk-in shower and a separate bathtub. One of the details I have not encountered at other properties is a bespoke scent which is diffused throughout the rooms and suites. Suites are stocked with a generous range of Bulgari bathroom amenities including a bath tea and bath salts.
The Food & Beverage highlights of Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet are the ”Cheese & Cheers’ on Friday evening to savour some of the finest Turkish wines (Turkey has an impressive array of fine wines) and the already very popular Saturday brunch which also attracts non-hotel guest but also a private roof-top dining experience, with the most romantic setting and spectacular 360 degree of the Old Town and the Bosphorus, onwards to the Asian side of the huge metropolis. Breakfast is served in the main restaurant in the courtyard which is housed under a glass dome. You will be delighted with many Turkish specialities which I warmly recommend.
During my stay, the hotel was hosting a tea pop-up by one of the most famous Turkish tea specialities, the lobby area being the perfect venue for such a unique experience. The hotel also has some small retail areas which besides souvenirs, also present guests with Turkish organic soaps, salts, teas and even coffee.
Mr Mourad confirmed during my stay that both Four Seasons Hotels properties will undergo extensive renovations in 2019, however, without a closure of any of them. They will be carefully conducted with the best artisans in stages, in such a way that there will be minimum disturbance for the hotel guests. Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Bosphorus has already introduced a fully renovated Terrace Room.
Already both hotels have benefited from a ‘tech upgrade’ with brand new UDHTvs with SmartTv and IpTv capabilities while the complimentary wi-fi option boasts a very high speed of internet.
Both hotels are sensibly connected via a luxury van (which runs according to s specific schedule), the actual distance being less than 30 minutes. Guests from Sultanahment can pamper themselves at the expansive luxury Spa of the Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus and vice-versa, hotel guests from Bosphorus can enjoy a lavish lunch or an afternoon tea after a walk through the Old Town of which the Four Seasons Sultahmet is at the heart of.
Oliver Petcu in Istanbul
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