The Gül Konakları (“Rose Mansions”) is a beautiful, quiet refuge from the tourist mecca of Cappadocia: four fine, large, historic Ottoman Greek stone mansions (c. 1856) carefully and aesthetically restored, and outfitted with all the latest comforts and conveniences in the delightfully quiet town of Mustafapaşa (map), a few kilometers south of Ürgüp.
What’s nice about the Gül Konakları (GURL koh-nahk-lah-ruh)—besides its several rose gardens, that is—is the dedication to preserving the best and most gracious aspects of upper-class Ottoman living.
Perhaps that’s what attracts the rich and famous, like film star and top model Monica Bellucci, to stay here:
For example, the Gül Köşkü (Rose Kiosk) in the rose garden, furnished with sedirs (low cushioned sofas) all around, is the perfect place to sit and read, or chat, or sip tea or a drink, listen to soft music, or reflect on the day’s adventures.
The Ottomans were great at keyf, or blissful, satisfied leisure—something many of us modern workaholic types are NOT good at. Gül Köşkü is the perfect architectural expression of keyf.
For a change of mood, the main living room in the main mansion has been decorated in a more modern style, with comfy easy chairs and, in cool weather, a cozy fire in the fireplace.
Soft music plays throughout, and candles sparkle in the public rooms on most nights.
Beside the modern kitchen, the mansion’s original kitchen, complete with tandır (firepit), has not only been preserved, but is still used to make many of the traditional dishes: a tandır clay pot is filled with vegetables and succulent lamb, sealed with clay, then placed in the firepit to cook slowly for hours.
The Şırahane, or grape juice press room has, like so many other features of the Gül Konakları, been preserved much as it was. Fresh grape juice was a favored drink in this rich grape-growing region, along with the “aged grape juice” otherwise known as wine.
The guest rooms vary in size and appointments, with no two identical, although the two triples in the adjoining stone-arched stables are similar, with loft beds. (In fact, most rooms in the inn can sleep up to three people.) The main house has seven guest rooms, the mansion behind has 12 rooms. Four of these are cave rooms, the rest stone rooms with elaborately decorated wooden ceilings.
The stone rooms were designed to stay cool in the summer’s heat, so air conditioning has not been added.
The two dining rooms are named Atina (Athens) and Selanik (Salonika) in honor of the houses’ former residents, who moved to those cities as part of the League of Nations exchange of populations following WWI. Old photos and postcards from the two cities decorate the walls.
All in all, you really feel that you’ve gone back in timehere, in quiet luxury only two minutes’ stroll from the town center, and a 15- or 20-minute drive from the bustle of Ürgüp and Göreme (for which you really should have a rental car, as public transport is infrequent.)
By the way, the Dinler Family who own Gül Konakları also own and operate the new Kayakapı Premium Caves resort in Ürgüp.
When you contact Gül Konakları, please mention TTP. Here’s why.
—by Tom Brosnahan