Istanbul, Turkey has two amazing Four Seasons properties as options for travelers visiting this fascinating city. I just returned from an Istanbul adventure and had a chance to visit both. I spent most of my time at the Four Seasons at Sultanahmet, housed in a former prison in the heart of the old city. This is a boutique-sized property, with only 65 rooms and suites, very intimate and very Turkish. I loved the location as it put me only steps from the city’s great monuments like the Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque.
The Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus
The Four Seasons Bosphorus property is much larger, with 170 rooms and 25 suites, spread out over several buildings. The hotel’s main building is a former Ottoman palace built in the 19th century, known as “Atik Pasha”. It’s ornate and beautiful, like something you would find in Versailles. The design inside is also luxurious and elegant. With a lot more grounds and space, I found the Bosphorus property was more of a resort. While both feature the legendary Four Seasons service and luxury, they are each wonderful and unique in their own ways.
When you convert a palace into a hotel, you have the benefit of already having an ideal location on the edge of the Bosphorus, some of the city’s best real estate. The views of the water and bridges are amazing and the rear of the hotel (formerly the front of the palace) features large terraces, patios, gardens and a swimming pool area. The resort-like pool and Terrace Lounge turn the terrace area into a real place to see and be seen during the hot summer season. The hotel’s stylish restaurant Aqua, also occupies part of the terrace offering great open-air dining.
The hotel has a range of rooms and suites from deluxe guestrooms to spectacular suites. I highly recommend one of the Bosphorus Palace Suites, especially the one bedroom suite with the loft bedroom. This two level suite, with both levels directly fronting the Bosphorus, features a sumptuous downstairs living area, with full-height, rounded-top windows across the full wall that faces the sea. Above the living area, reached by steps, is a luxurious bedroom area, allowing views out those big windows from the bed. The perfect combination of luxury and location, with the Four Seasons service, makes this an ideal choice for Istanbul visitors seeking that luxury travel experience.
We had a delicious meal at Aqua, the hotel’s Turkish-Mediterranean restaurant. Executive chef Sebastiano Spriveri brings some of the flavors of his native Sicily to modern Mediterranean cuisine and Turkish classics. Great hotel restaurant service (which I love) and a deep wine cellar make it a great option. For another delicious dining option in Istanbul, we dined at X Restaurant & Bar in the city’s Sishane neighborhood. I would call the food “Nouvelle Turkish” or “Nouvelle Mediterranean” and regardless of the label, it was delicious with a great atmosphere.
Speedboat airport pickup
The Four Seasons Bosphorus offers the ultimate luxury airport pickup experience, giving visitors to Istanbul a true James Bond-style arrival. The hotel offers speedboat pick-up service from Istanbul Ataturk Airport. Since the airport isn’t directly on the water, guests are picked up by luxury car and transferred a few miles to the Atakoy Marina, where a speedboat is waiting. Guests are then whisked down the Bosphorus, with beautiful waterfront views of the city, to then arrive at the Four Seasons’ private boat dock in front of the hotel. A brief walk across the terrace and guests are in the lobby. The service is about $600 for up to seven people.
Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus
Room rates start around $640 per night. Istanbul is well served by many international air carriers. I flew Turkish Airlines, who connect the city directly with Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Boston, Washington, DC and Houston. I find their Business Class service equals most airlines’ First Class and their “Flying Chefs” make just getting there a foodie adventure.
Freddy Sherman is a world traveler and editor of the travel blog luxuryfred.com. In the past year, he has visited Turkey twice, had a foodie adventure in Hong Kong, taken a cruise down the Mekong river through Vietnam and Cambodia, slept in an Ice Hotel in Canada, and toured Peru. You can follow him on Twitter -@luxuryfred and on Instagram – @luxuryfred.
More from this contributor:
Shopping in Hong Kong’s Street Markets
A Fun Night Out in Istanbul
Aqua at the Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus