I am usually the trip planner, but for this trip, I am joining a group to Istanbul in early October. I saw on another thread that Rick's groups stay at the Hotel Azade. I wonder if there is someone that could tell me how it is? My group likes a high end hotel, and is booked at the Ritz Carlton, but the price is high and we also wonder if it is the best location, so I am researching options. 5 women, 2 rooms, 7 nights in Istanbul. Any advice?
We are on the RS Istanbul tour the first full week of October (5-11). We were told that it usually stays at the Hotel Sumengen: http://www.sumengenhotel.com/index.html. Knowing that "usually" is not the same as "always" I am waiting to reserve a room there for 4 October.
Have you searched Booking.com? When I put in 5 people, it came up with apartment options. There are lots of ways to refine your search and you might find something that would be lots of fun for your group. Although it sounds like they don't care about money, an apartment would probably be cheaper and provide more comfort.
When I search this resource, I never bother with star ratings and always require the "review score" to be 8+. When I find something interesting, I also check it against TripAdvisor.
Of course you can also search for 5 people and 2 rooms and end up with lots of results that way, too. You will have to figure out where you want to be in terms of a location first of all, and using the RS Istanbul's itinerary might help with that. I personally prefer staying local instead of in a big, predictable chain hotel, but your group may not be willing to go that far out of their comfort zone.
Location should be a primary decision factor. I have always found the hotel descriptions in Rick's book to honestly address the key pluses or minuses of the place. Here is the description for Hotel Azade, but the book also lists other very comfortable-sounding alternatives: [$$$] Azade Hotel SC, about three blocks down the hill from the Blue Mosque, was converted from an old Ottoman house. Its 33 rooms manage an old-fashioned charm, and the breakfast terrace has sweeping views of the Bosphorus, Sea of Marmara, and the Blue Mosque (standard Sb-€165, standard Db-€225, Tb-€260, family room-€300, seaview rooms-€30 more, 10 percent off best Internet rate if you mention this book when you reserve and show it at check-in, free airport pickup with 3-night stay, air-con, elevator plus some stairs, guest computer, free Wi-Fi, Mimar Mehmet Ağa 17-19, tel. 0212/517-7173, www.azadehotel.com, email@example.com, manager Ömer Sümengen).
We enjoyed the Sirkeci Konak last fall. It's a great little upscale hotel. Wonderful breakfasts. The location is perfect, halfway between the Blue Mosque/etc. and the Spice Market; we walked everywhere. Check out the website; they offer lots of free activities (walking tours, wine tastings, cooking classes) plus discounts for cash payments and free airport transfers.
The Azade is not upscale but the roof top terrace for breakfast is lovely. This is where "The Best of Turkey Stays". The Sumengen is next door and, from what I read, is on the higher end opposed to the Azade. This is where the " Istanbul Tour" stays. Apparently the 6th floor has the best views of the Sea of Mamara. You might consider staying at Hotel Aya Sofia and booking one of their apartments which are between the actual hotel and the Old City Wall and the Hippodrome. You would just walk a few buildings down to the hotel for breakfast, which is nice. The hotel has a bar on the top floor which is nice but has limited views of the Sea of Mamara (but gets cool breezes).
The management of Hotel Aya Sofia is lovely. The owner is a travel agent and could give you good tips as well anyone at the front desk . The owner is Australian. English is widely spoken there. This isn't high end but I personally would rather spend my money at waterfront restaurants. One lovely place to have lunch would be the restaurant at Topkapi Palace.
Pam from Bath