Okay, you've heard about Cappadocian
cave hotels and about staying
in a cave room with
all the comforts: modern private
bathroom, comfortable beds, flat-screen
satellite TV, central heating, air
conditioning, Wifi Internet, perhaps
even a kitchenette.
But what's it really like to live
in a cave room?
The first thing to understand is that
cave rooms are not all alike. In fact,
each cave room is unique,
with its own character, beauty, mystery,
advantages and perhaps disadvantages.
You might think it's easy to make
a cave room: dig a hole in the soft volcanic tufa rock
of Cappadocia, move in some furniture
and decorative handicrafts, add
a bit of plumbing and voilà,
a cozy cave room.
How to Make a Comfortable Cave
Tufa caves are subject to humidity and crumbling
rock and cracks and
other frailties. It actually takes a lot of work to build a good cave
room. There must be well-designed drainage and ventilation,
all the pipes for plumbing and
sewage and the wires and cables
for the electricity, heating, air
conditioning, Wifi, TV, etc. And,
in the best cave rooms, all these
utilities are out of sight.
The character of the rock is
crucial. Luckily, the rock in some
areas of Cappadocia is very good for
cave rooms. Among these areas is the Esbelli district
of Ürgüp, known for its sound, solid,
beautifully-colored stone. If anyone
digs a hole in Esbelli, they can easily
sell the stone for house construction
anywhere in Cappadocia.
Another thing to consider is sunlight. Many
cave rooms have several windows, and
the south-facing ones actually receive
floods of cheery sunshine, even deep
within. Leave the door open and your
cave room is as good as a beach
But other rooms may have only one
small window, north-facing, or blocked
by other buildings, meaning you may
feel claustrophobic. And a few rooms are
really cave-like, with no
window at all.
Logically this should not matter,
but in fact it does. There's something
foreboding about a room without windows
or at least a skylight.
You may be able to sit
and converse in it, or dine in it,
but it's kinda creepy to sleep in it. Read
So when choosing a Cappadocian
cave hotel and cave room, ask:
—Does it have one or more windows?
—Does it get direct sunlight? (Or
lots of indirect sunlight?)
—Is it humid or musty-smelling? Can
this be dispelled?
In the hot months (late May through
early October), most cave rooms stay
comfortably cool and don't really need
air-conditioning. But most cave hotels
have installed air conditioning
because they believe
many people will not reserve a room
Heating, on the other
hand, is usually necessary late autumn
through spring (November through April)
to dispell the chill and some latent
moisture. Some cave rooms have central
heating, but portable electric units,
fluid-filled or radiant, work
Noise is usually
not a problem in cave rooms—the walls
are made of stone, after all—though
a room right next to a roadway may be noisy, and the hugely-amplified early-morning call
to prayer seems to penetrate
even the stone of Cappadocia.
Stone-Built vs. Cave Rooms
Most hotels will draw a distinction
between stone-built rooms and cave
rooms. A stone-built room
is constructed of stone blocks, often
barrel-vaulted and arched, with decoration
and niches carved into the stone.
rooms share many of the advantages
of cave rooms (coolness, sound-proofing,
character, the beauty of the stone),
but they have a different character.
A true cave room has the haphazard
shape of centuries, whereas a stone-built
the conscious creation of a master
Both rooms are worth occupying and
enjoying. Both provide indelible memories
Here are my favorite Cappadocian
—by Tom Brosnahan