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How to book a good hotel in Istanbul: online or agent?

I was reading Frommer's Guide to Turkey. In the hotels section the author states that an "agent" can get you the best hotel rates; that published or internet rates are often much higher than the "real" rate. I read on but the book gave no more suggestions other than this frustrating "teaser".

What kind of "agent" is meant? A travel agent like I would find here in the US? Or an hotel agent found (somehow) in Turkey? Also, I have heard stories about online bookings not being honored when you arrive. We want to be in the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Istanbul. (Specific recommendations WECOME!) We are hoping to find 2 sleeping rooms and a sitting room (or some such place) where MIL can relax and visit with the grandkids, while the able-bodied see the old city in turns.

So what is the best way to book rooms? We are in the moderate price category; but from what I read, in the moderate price range hotels can vary a LOT in quality. We are booking for a larger family group, not just ourselves, one of whom is elderly with limited mobility, so the rooms need to be what they are advertised as being. (i.e., we need the bathroom and elevator to BE where they are supposed to be.) Plus my husband would be embarrassed in front of his extended family if we booked them into something less than... adequate.

Posted by
46 posts

I'd recommend that you pick up a copy of Rick Steves new Istanbul guide and check out some of the hotels he recommends, there are also some really interesting guides to many of the sights you'll see in Sultanahmet. We made reservations in many places in Turkey (most online, two were made by friends for us) but they were always honored. We stayed at Hotel Anemon Galata in the New District, it was very nice but not in the neighborhood you want.

Posted by
25 posts

We stayed, in Istanbul, a couple of blocks from the center, where the main sights are, at Fehmi Bey Hotel
which makes relatively inexpensive accomodations direct, in English. Very nice little hotel, clean rooms, helpful English-speaking staff, internet computer available near the lobby. Small rooms though! I loved the area. And it was comfortable.

I have photos from the rooftop of that hotel, at (but don't eat dinner there, as it's expensive and there are plenty of excellent places around them).

The first two galleries show views from the hotel.

  • Andrys
Posted by
25 posts

By the way, we always got best rates by looking up hotels that got highest ratings online by visitors from all over the world. Then we went STRAIGHT to the hotel website online and emailed them to reserve directly.

Sometimes a google search will have some trouble finding them because the $$$agencies take over the top search results but you can usually find them.

Posted by
43 posts

I started reading Rick's Istanbul book today. I took out everything the library had, forgot I had that one. I'm skimming all of them before I decide which ones to buy.

Andrys: How did you find these "highest ratings online"? Is there a review site that has this? I used a hotel booking site called when booking a trip to Italy a few years back. People do write in to rate hotels there. I checked that site again but not many hotels in Istanbul are rated. And since people pay to have their hotels listed I'm sure a lot of good hotels are left out.

Your photos of the hotel look very good. It's certainly in the right area. I looked at the hotel website. The rooms and the rook terrace look good too. Were yours as nice as the ones shown on the site? The site says "historical hotel" but the pictures of the outside look modern. What was your impression? If I'm staying in such and old area I'd like a little flavor of antiquity in the hotel as well.

Posted by
25 posts

Linnea, the rating place we use the most is
I just checked it for Fehmi Bey and found this page
The page shows the last 5 reviews and 4 of them give 5 stars out of 5. It's a 3-star hotel in ritziness.

They were remodeling when we were there 2.5 years ago, so the exterior looks different now. Inside, the double with twins we had was smaller, but it was nice. Nothing fancy though. The hotel could not be better situated for Sultanahmet and we really enjoyed being so close to everything. Even had a favorite lunch place around the corner. They are about $135 in the summer for a double room. There's a SMALL elevator. Rooms come with bathrooms.
I see they now have wireless in the rooms too. Staff was especially helpful. Even at 3am. Rooms have no special character. Lobby did, with antique things but it's not "Olde"...

Posted by
25 posts

I should add that it was nice to come back to rest in between the various things we planned nearby.

Also, forgot to say that tripadvisor section on Fehmi Bey has many other pages of reviews on it as well. And each review is expanded if you click on it. Once you click on one review you can see several other reviews in expanded scrolling format. Very easy to read.

Anyway, if I went back I would just automatically rebook there. I can't imagine a better spot and wouldn't pay for fancier digs. I would spend it on museum fees and great food. But we don't tend to book anything but ultra comfortable hotels. And I like to be centrally located but have quiet rooms.