The Sarı Konak Hotel ('Yellow Mansion') is a fine, comfortable, moderately-priced small Ottoman-style inn on a relatively quiet street less than five minutes' walk from the Blue Mosque and Hippodrome (map).
Best of all, it's run by one of the friendliest families in Istanbul, making it a good choice for female travelers, single or traveling with others.
The materfamilias of the Okan family supervised the decoration of the guest rooms. Their muted tones and understated patterns add to the quiet comfort of the rooms. It's really tasteful four- or even five-star decoration, at a reasonable price.
The public rooms are pleasantly uncluttered and decorated tastefully with Ottoman antiques and Turkish crafts.
For a small inn with only 17 rooms on three floors, it's a welcome surprise that the Sari Konak has an elevator (lift) serving most of its rooms.
Manager Mr. Ümit Okan has a good sense of what it's like to travel as a tourist in Turkey. "I wanted to make a hotel that was better than all the ones I stayed in," he says. "So we included all the normal comforts and conveniences such as TV and air conditioning, but we also installed double-glazed windows for quiet. The little refrigerators in the rooms are not filled with overpriced drinks. You can fill them with whatever you like."
When it was still Constantinople, this part of the city was covered by the Byzantine Great Palace. The Okans discovered part of a wall from the palace behind the hotel, preserved it, and made it the backdrop for their small open-air garden terrace. With its tinkling marble fountain, it's a great place for a quiet breakfast (the only meal served) or contemplative afternoon cup of tea or a drink.
If you're feeling expansive, ascend to the roof terrace, from which there are fine views of the Sea of Marmara and the minarets of the Blue Mosque, not to mention bar service.
The Sarı Konak also has three comfortable apartments in the hotel. More...
Walk up the gentle slope of Mimar Mehmet Ağa Caddesi from the Sarı Konak for a few minutes and you're right in Sultanahmet, the sightseeing center of Old Istanbul.
All in all, one of the best hotel choices in the district—indeed, in the whole city: friendly, comfortable, convenient, and good value-for-money.
Sarı Konak Hotel
Mimar Mehmet Ağa Caddesi No. 42-46 (map)
34400 Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Tel +90 (212) 638 6258
Fax +90 (212) 517 8635
—by Tom Brosnahan