The hotel's founders and owners, Mr Mark and Mrs Nedret Butler, are both architects. After teaching architecture in Iowa for years, they returned to Istanbul to pursue a dream: to convert a historic Ottoman factory building into a beautiful boutique hotel.
Each of the seven deluxe rooms is different, of course, as are the three junior suites, four loft suites, three family loft suites, three executive suites, and the unique Sumahan suite. There is a style and capacity to suit all tastes, preferences and needs.
Same goes for each table in the waterfront terrace restaurant, which has open-air tables for fine-weather alla fresca dining, and sleek dining rooms when you'd rather be inside.
The Sumahan Wellness Center has its own hamam(Turkish bath), exercise room, and massage facilities "to make you feel better when you leave than when you arrived."
Which brings up the question: why stay at a large hotel, in the midst of corporate meetings, exhibitions, and tour groups, when you can stay in even greater luxury and style, in a place where everybody knows your name, for comparable or lower rates?
For example, Istanbul's Çirağan Palace is a fine hotel right on the Bosphorus shore, but half the rooms have "park views" meaning, for many, a high stone wall. The Bosphorus it sure isn't. And you get far more personal service in a boutique hotel such as the Sumahan than in a big chain hotel.
As with all Bosphorus hotels, there is the question of transportation to answer. On the European shore you need to use a taxi to go between your hotel and such centers of interest as Taksim Square and Sultanahmet. But what about on the Asian shore?
The Sumahan has solved that by providing its own water shuttle service by fast motor launch between the hotel and Dolmabahçe. From there you can easily walk to Kabataş and take the Füniküler (or a taxi) to Taksim Square, or the Bağcılar-Kabataş tram (or a taxi) to Karaköy, Eminönü, Sultanahmet, Beyazıt and the Grand Bazaar, and other points of interest.
Also, Şehir Hatları ferryboats—Istanbul's most enjoyable means of transport—steam between Eminönü's ferry docks and Çengelköy several times daily, and other boats cross the Bosphorus to Arnavutköy and Bebek on the European shore.
If you have the time for the transport, you'll love being in the heart of the city for sightseeing, and you'll love being out of it and on the Bosphorus shore at the end of the day (not to mention mornings, when the western shore is illuminated by the rising sun).
—by Tom Brosnahan