The most romantic hotels in Istanbul, including secret gardens and sigh-worthy views

Advice

Istanbul was where the great Byzantine emperor Justinian courted then married circus girl Theodora (to much ‘tut-tutting’ from a scandalised public) and where languid Ottoman sultans presided over their beautiful concubines in the mysterious harem at the Topkapı Palace. It remains a romantic city today, especially when viewed at night from a swanky rooftop or Bosphorus-front restaurant, with the city lights of Asia twinkling across the strait. Whether you choose one of the well-appointed waterfront places listed below, a place in the heart of the historic quarter or the hotel where Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mata Hari and Greta Garbo once laid their heads, here’s a run-down of the most romantic getaways in ‘The City of the World’s Desire’.

Romance Istanbul Hotel

Istanbul, Turkey

9
Telegraph expert rating

Romance Istanbul does not pander to the hip and ephemeral but trades instead on good, old-fashioned comfort and top-quality service. Harking back to Istanbul’s imperial Ottoman past, each room has its own talisman shirt on display, of the kind specially made for each sultan to bring good luck and protection (Room 105 has a replica of the talisman shirt worn by Süleyman the Magnificent). All the fittings and fixtures of the hotel have been custom-made to give a definite sense of traditional style, with an emphasis on ornate, period gilded-wood furniture, heavy drapes, floral wallpaper and velvet or satin upholstery, chandeliers and glass pendant lighting fittings and wrought-iron work.


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From


£
97

per night

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Sumahan on the Water

Istanbul, Turkey

9
Telegraph expert rating

Formerly an Ottoman-era distillery, this place was converted into an award-winning hotel by its discerning Turkish-American owners. As the hotel is situated on the Asian side of the Bosphorus Strait, guests arrive from Europe in the hotel’s own launch. There can be few finer ways to begin a visit to Istanbul. But one of the best things about the Sumahan is that all rooms have magnificent views of the strait itself, and you can either lay in bed, or sit in a comfy armchair, and watch the sun play on the water outside. Light floods into the carefully designed rooms through floor to ceiling windows, illuminating the stylishly contemporary, but never austere, interiors.


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From


£
221

per night

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Hotel Empress Zoe

Istanbul, Turkey

8
Telegraph expert rating

A couple of period town houses form the basis for this charmingly simple hotel. Lots of natural wood and stone are enlivened by carefully chosen oriental rugs, textiles and prints. The interior is delightfully mazy, with spiral stairs leading down from street level to the lobby, bounded on one side by a section of Byzantine wall, then more steps up to the bar/breakfast room and garden, and up again to the rooms. The garden is a real haven of peace and tranquillity after a day’s hectic sight-seeing, with palm trees, giant yucca and other greenery enclosed within exposed brick courtyard walls and shaded by the grassy brick domes of the adjacent, long-disused Ottoman hammam.


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£
59

per night

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Pera Palace Hotel

Istanbul, Turkey

9
Telegraph expert rating

The Pera Palace fits perfectly into an area that was, in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, home to the city’s Christian and Jewish minorities as well as European bankers, diplomats and traders. The elegant, restrained Neo-Classical façade of the seven-storey building does little to prepare you for the opulence of the perfectly preserved interior, which looks very much like it must have done in the 1920s when Agatha Christie stayed here en-route for Aleppo. The Kubbeli Lounge on the ground floor is a real focal point, with its six glass domes, a grandiloquent crystal chandelier, Moorish-style arches and walls clad in bands of marble of contrasting colours.


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From


£
131

per night

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Hotel Ibrahim Pasha

Istanbul, Turkey

8
Telegraph expert rating

This hotel in the heart of Istanbul is popular with discerning city-breakers. Fashioned from a pair of tall, early 20th-century town houses and spread over four floors, the contemporary makeover the interior has received enhances its Ottoman roots. Think potted plants, blonde-wood floors, oriental rugs and crisp white bed-linen. Then there are the great views from the roof-terrace east across the Hippodrome to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, with the hills of Asia beyond the Bosphorus, whilst to the south glimmer the blue waters of the Sea of Marmara – best experienced at sunset from the comfort of an upholstered rattan chair, drink in hand.


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From


£
109

per night

Rates provided by
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