You may have already chosen your Istanbul
hotel, from my short list of the best Istanbul hotels, but it pays to know more about the neighborhood in which your hotel is located.
Istanbul has numerous hotel districts,
and each district
has advantages and disadvantages. Here's
how to choose:
1. Europe or Asia?
Istanbul is the "City on Two Continents," the city and the continents divided by the Bosphorus. Most visitors, and nearly all first-time visitors and sightseers, choose the European side, near all the major sights, meaning Old Istanbul, Beyoğlu, Bosphorus or near the Airport. However, recent transportation improvements have made the Asian side a useful alternative.
Horn divides the European side of Istanbul into Old Istanbul (south of the Golden
Horn) and Beyoğlu (north of the Golden
Horn). Old Istanbul and Beyoğlu
are about a 20-minute, TL25 taxi ride, or a much less expensive 20- to 25-minute tram ride
If it's your first visit to Istanbul and you want to see the major sights such as Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Hippodrome and the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque, then you should probably stay in Old Istanbul, the historic district south of the Golden
Horn that has been the city center for more than 2000 years. You can walk to most of the sights, and transport is easy for the others. More...
If you've come more for art museums and galleries, cool cafés and bars, a variety of restaurants, music clubs, browsing in trendy stores along İstiklal
Caddesi (the Grande Rue de Péra) and the antiques shops of Cihangir/Çukurcuma, then you may prefer to stay in Beyoğlu, the district north of the Golden Horn developed during the 19th century. More...
There are also
good hotels—most of them deluxe—on
the shores of the Bosphorus. Most of these hotels offer magnificent water views from luxury 5-star rooms facing the Bosphorus
strait, but not all rooms have views, and the locations may be distant from sightseeing, shopping and nightlife.
You'll be taking lots of taxi rides,
sometimes through dense, slow, time-wasting traffic. More...
There are numerous hotels near Atatürk
International Airport, but depending on the time(s) of your flight(s), it may make more sense to stay in the city center. More...
—by Tom Brosnahan