If you have never visited Istanbul before, here’s a little information. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and is the country’s economic, cultural and historical heart. The Bosphorus Strait divides the transcontinental city into the European side and the Asian side. Even though a third of Istanbul’s population resides on the Asian side, when Westerners talk about Istanbul, they are usually referring to the European side.
The European side is further divided into “Old Istanbul” and “New Istanbul.” The majority of the city’s historical attractions including the Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, etc. are all located in old Istanbul. If you are looking for a younger, more vibrant nightlife then you will need to head over to new Istanbul.
The Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus is located in new Istanbul on the European side. The hotel is located about a 30 minute cab ride from Istanbul Ataturk Airport in light traffic. Expect a longer commute (and a higher cab fare) during peak traffic hours. Fellow UPGRD blogger, Damien, has also visited the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus. You can read his review here.
The closest landmark to the hotel is Taksim Square. Taksim Square is about a five minute walk from the hotel and from there, you will find buses, taxis and the metro to get around/out of town. Taksim Square is also where the Turkish people will congregate, protest and meet for political rallies so it’s definitely in a more lively part of town.
The Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus was built in 1955 and is Hilton’s oldest operating hotel outside of the Americas. The exterior of the hotel is still very much 1950’s architecture but the interior of the hotel including the lobby, rooms and facilities are all completely new, modern and beautifully appointed.
The front of the hotel is actually off-set from the main street and you must pass through a security gate before entering the premises. The security guard will conduct a loose security inspection and check under the vehicles (taxis included) before allowing you to pass. The valet is located in front of the hotel and self-parking is located in the parking structure next door.
As you enter the hotel entrance, you must bypass another loose security inspection with metal detectors and baggage screeners. For a giant hotel, the lobby and check-in area was pretty small and got a little crowded during peak check-in/out times. Once past the check-in area, the hotel lobby opens to this grand seating area with restaurants and views of the outside.
On this trip, I was booked into a standard guest room on the sixth floor. The room was spacious, minimally decorated and furnished with a comfortable king size bed, flat screen television, desk, seating area, bar counter with mini-fridge, security safe and a large window with views of the city. The balcony was very spacious and had a table and two chairs outside. The floor to ceiling windows made the room feel bright and airy.
The enclosed bathroom was a decent size and was beautifully decorated with marble counters and tiled walls. As common with most international hotels, there was a toilet and separate bidet. Larger than normal Peter Thomas Roth bath and body products were provided for your convenience.
The hotel grounds are pretty vast and there are plenty of trails and lush gardens to meander through. Other hotel amenities include an indoor pool, outdoor pool/Jacuzzi area, fitness center, running track, tennis court, spa, hamman (Turkish bath) and Executive Lounge.
For a hotel gym, this is one of the better in-house, fitness centers that I have visited. It’s a good size and has a separate cardio area with state of the art equipment. There are plenty of free weights and a variety of machines and benches for you to use.
The spa facilities are attached to the fitness center. You can arrange for spa services such as facials and massages at the fitness center front desk but the general use of the gym or spa area (lockers, Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, hamman) are all free.
The Executive Lounge is located on the ninth floor and is open from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM. A full breakfast was served during the morning hours and an evening reception with a sample of hot finger foods and selection of alcoholic drinks is served in the evening. If you are able to, I highly recommend you spend some time in the lounge, grab some food and enjoy the beautiful views of the city from the lounge. Although it’s not private or quiet, there are several computers and printers to use if you need to get some work done.
If you are like me and don’t like to make travel plans until you actually arrive at a destination, then you are in luck. The hotel concierge was very helpful and was able to book me with a two day tour of Istanbul including a river tour of the Bosphorus. Yeah, it was a little pricey but it was convenient and personable due to the small size.
Overall, the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus was a great stay and I would recommend. If you’re looking to explore Istanbul on your own and want to be within walking distance to all the major attractions, I don’t recommend this hotel. You will probably be better off staying at a hotel in old Istanbul. But if you don’t mind taking taxis, will be part of a tour group or want more of a modern night life, then the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus will be a great stay.
Other trip reports in this series:
- The new Star Alliance Lounge at LAX
- The new Korean Airlines Skyteam Lounge at LAX
- Turkish Airlines business class from Los Angeles to Istanbul
- Hilton Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge at Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines business class from Istanbul to Frankfurt
- Lufthansa Senator Lounges at Frankfurt
- Asiana Airlines first class from Frankfurt to Seoul
- Asiana Airlines first class lounge at Seoul
- Asiana Airlines business class from Seoul to Shanghai
- Westin Bund Center Shanghai
- VIP lounges at Shanghai Pudung International Airport
- Thai Airways business class from Shanghai to Bangkok
- Thai Airways Royal First Spa and Lounge
- Thai Airways first class from Bangkok to Paris
- Star Alliance Lounge at CDG
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at CDG
- Air Canada business class (Executive First) from Paris to Montreal
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at Montreal
- Air Canada business class (Executive First) from Montreal to Los Angeles.