Istanbul is a place that I’ve enjoyed visiting in the past. This time was a somewhat last-minute business trip, but I tried to make the most of a somewhat stressful trip and even used a few spare hours of free time to explore the city as much as I could. My work was relatively close to the city center, which made it easy to find a hotel. I opted for the Grand Hyatt. I hadn’t stayed before, and it is a few blocks from Taksim Square. Thanks to reduced tourism and a somewhat weak Lira, hotel rates seem pretty low. I was also able to use a Hyatt Suite Upgrade before it expired, so that was a nice bonus.
The Grand Hyatt Istanbul
Low rates, good location, and the ability to confirm an upgrade to a suite at booking were all positives going into this stay. I was tempted to try the Park Hyatt, since rates were not much more, but a much more convenient location for work, and more options within walking distance led me to opt for the Grand. The Grand Club is rather nice as well, which I appreciate for a quick easy breakfast, and sometimes a quiet place to
relax with a drink catch up on email after a day working.
The Grand Hyatt is a large property located near Taksim Square, and directly across the street from the Faculty of Architecture of Istanbul Technical University. My visit was in January, and the weather was cool, but it was fine to walk around with a jacket. I even ran outside a few times in adjacent parks on days where it wasn’t raining.
Service on property was fine, nothing too special. The Grand Club staff seemed to be the most polished, which is to be expected. As I have noticed several times before service was somewhat inconsistent. I received a newspaper some days, and some days I did not. Not really a big deal, as I could pick one up in the club if I needed it, but just inconsistent.
Grand Suite King
My room was on a corner of an upper floor, but not on the same floor as the lounge. The Grand Suite consists of 2 rooms, with a living room, and dining table, and a guest bathroom. Then the king bedroom has lots of windows, and access to a walk-in closet and a large bathroom with both a shower and separate soaking tub.
There was a small welcome amenity waiting on the table when I entered my room. This was a nice surprise, since the option of welcome amenities went away with the World of Hyatt program. There must be something in the Hyatt system that I like sparkling water, as this is somewhat common item when I receive something like this at properties. The fruit plate was decent enough, plus a nice note from the manager.
The living room was equipped with a desk, Nespresso machine, and an L-shaped couch. The desk had several power ports, and a universal plug adapter.
The bedroom was nice enough, and the bed was very comfortable. There were at least 2 housekeeping services each day, as a small card was placed next to the bed that included the next day’s forecast.
The bathroom is large, and the shower had a rainfall shower head which might have matched a firehose for pressure. Wow.
The closet is large, with a shelf, and a safe. One thing that I found lacking in the room was any sort of dresser. While I travel a lot, I always prefer to unpack my bag, The only drawers in the room were small ones on the nightstand. Not a huge deal, but annoying to my preferred unpacking system.
Grand Hyatt Istanbul public spaces
As usual when I travel, I don’t typically eat in hotel restaurants. The Grand Hyatt has multiple options, but instead I ate elsewhere. I did do breakfast in the Grand Club each day of my stay. The ground floor lobby isn’t that large, but here is a mezzanine with more space and that is where several restaurants are located.
Also on the mezzanine level is the spa and fitness center. The spa looks nice, but I passed. The gym is a small room, but well equipped. There is also a larger open room that presumably could be used for classes or yoga, but I just used it for stretching since space in the main gym is limited by all of the equipment.
This trip to Turkey was my first time traveling somewhere listed by the US State Department as “Reconsider Travel”. This is the 3rd level of advisory, the 4th being, “Do not Travel”. Not ideal, but the work had to get done, and while Istanbul hasn’t been spared violence, obviously it is safer than some other areas in country. That said, it was a bit concerning to see this chyron soon after my arrival in Turkey…
Thankfully, there were no major incidents during the time of my visit. As in past trips to Istanbul, I never felt in any danger, and I still enjoy visiting there. Public areas that I visited seemed essentially as busy as ever, so even though tourism is likely down, it is far from quiet.
A little time to explore Istanbul
I’ve toured Istanbul before, both on flight layovers, and on past trips. I didn’t have much spare time this trip, and the weather wasn’t always great to get out and walk. I did have some firsts on this trip. First off was actually crossing the Bosphorus and being on the Asian side of the city. I visited there one night with colleagues for dinner.
On the last day of my trip, I had a few hours before I had to head to the airport, so I went for a walk from my hotel. And by walk, I meant eating with some walking in between. Istiklal street is a famous shopping street, and it connects Taksim Square with Galata. There are lots of shops and restaurants here. One food item that is becoming a tradition for me when I visit Istanbul is to have an Islak burger. Oddly, I don’t eat burgers at home much at all, but for some reason, I make a point of having this when in Istanbul. It is basically a small burger covered in a garlicky tomato sauce, and steamed. It is messy, but quite tasty.
I’ll eat falafel most any time, but during my walk along Istiklal street, I noticed a Lebanese vegetarian restaurant, so I stopped for more food. A simple snack of a falafel wrap and an ayran (yogurt drink popular in the region also sometimes known as doogh) hit the spot.
I have visited Galata tower before, but it was a good spot to end my tour as I needed to return to my hotel and then the airport. This is a good example of the unique history of Istanbul. This tower was built in 1348 by the Genoese when the city was known as Constantinople (requisite They Might Be Giants link here).
I mostly enjoyed my time on this trip. The Grand Hyatt is a nice property, and the suite was very good. I intentionally flew out on a Star Alliance airline so I could visit the lovely Turkish Airlines Lounge beforehand. It wasn’t nearly as busy this time as in past visits, mostly thanks to doubling the size by adding a new floor. Still, one has to be pretty quick to taste any freshly baked pide. Even when busy, undoubtedly this is a great lounge.