Best hotel in Istanbul? Prime candidate is the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet. If you want the city's best, a beautiful hotel with Ottoman character, luxury appointments and superbly trained staff, in the best possible location for sightseeing, this is it.
The historic Ottoman building was formerly (and famously) a prison, but that's beside the point. It is now carefully restored and adapted to lodge a mere 130 guests in 65 guest rooms (including 11 suites) served by a staff of 200, meaning that there is more staff than guests.
The guest rooms come in three sizes (Standard, Superior, Deluxe), with even the Standard being of good size. Rich dark wood, brass fittings, oil paintings by local artists, Turkish craft items and of course rich Turkish carpets furnish them all.
Location, location, location: the Four Seasons at Sultanahmet is on Tevkifhane Sokak in Sultanahmet, literally a stone's throw from Ayasofya, the Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome, and only a scenic five-minute stroll from Topkapı Palace.
What's not to like? There's no swimming pool (yet, but it's under construction). There are no grounds to speak of, except the pretty garden courtyard. (If you want spacious gardens—even tennis courts—consider the Istanbul Hilton).
To enjoy that ultimate Istanbul status symbol: a view of the Bosphorus, you must go to the roof terrace. (For Bosphorus views from your guest room, consider the Ceylan Inter-continental, the Çıragan Palace Kempinski, the Conrad, the Hilton or the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus.)
If this is your first visit to Istanbul, and if you'd rather not climb in a taxi every time you want to visit sights in the main historic district (Sultanahmet), you may agree with me that the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet is the best hotel in Istanbul.
Get information on room rates and availability, and make your reservations through Efendi Travel, who also operate the best private airport transfer service. They'll take you to the hotel in a Mercedes-Benz vehicle that costs only slightly more than a taxi, and significantly less than two taxis (which you'll need if you have 4+ people and/or lots of luggage), and far more pleasant, comfortable and trustworthy.
Tevkifhane Sokak No. 1
—by Tom Brosnahan