Where to stay in Istanbul

A former pasha's mansion versus a charming boutique hotel in Istanbul.


What's so special

Situated on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, this hotel is so close to the water you can hear the river lapping against the seawall if you open your bedroom window. To get into Istanbul to do some sightseeing you'll have to jump on the hotel's free shuttle to cross the river, but the sheer class of this hotel makes it worth crossing continents for.

How they rate it

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A'jia's location means that "accessing this strait-side sanctuary can eat into your day. Take a cab or tram to Emirgan, a northerly neighbourhood on the European side of Istanbul, from where A'jia runs a free boat shuttle for guests", says Katie Bowman in The Sunday Times Travel Magazine. "Once you've mooched and papped the palaces, get back and enjoy the hotel." It is a former pasha's mansion, "now all billowing muslin, teak floors, knotted rugs and cool contemporary furniture".

The menu

"The excellent restaurant means you don't need to venture out for dinner, and its Sunday brunch lures locals from all around," says Bowman.

The cost

A double room at the A'jia costs from £216. For more information, visit the website at www.ajiahotel.com, or call 00 90 216 413 9300.

Empress Zoe


What's so special

For a stay that is more conveniently located for sightseeing, try this historic boutique hotel, which is nestled right in the heart of the old city. Empress Zoe is the vision of American Ann Nevans, who has created a wonderful oasis here.

How they rate it

"This individualistic boutique hotel is one of the most atmospheric in the city," says The Daily Telegraph. It is "perfect for exploring the old city on foot, as all the major sights are just a short walk away". It is a "charmingly simple hotel" with "lots of natural wood and stone enlivened by carefully chosen oriental rugs and textiles".

The bedrooms are all "tastefully furnished and comfy". A word of warning: there is "one bargain room barely large enough to swing the house cats, so choose carefully".

The menu

The hotel doesn't serve dinner, but "there's a list of recommended restaurants at reception and breakfasts are delicious full Turkish style' ie, fresh bread cheese, honey, jams, yoghurt and more".

The cost

A double room costs from £98. Find out more at www.emzoe.com, or call 00 90 212 518 25 04.

What the travel writers are saying

Viceroy, Maldives

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This exclusive resort on Hamilton Island is "surrounded on all sides by the largest continuous coral reef in the world: the Great Barrier Reef". After exploring the reef, "relax at the resort's sumptuous spa, dine on fresh fish at the seafood restaurant and then slumber in one of 60 modern pavilions or beach houses; each has a private pool and deck". Doubles from £635; diving from £74 (Qualia.com.au).

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