Old Istanbul Hotel Areas

Lodgings in Old Istanbul are in all price ranges, from cheap hostels to five-star luxury, with most being charming mid-range inns. (By the way, here are thelaundries.)

Here are my choices for best hotels in Sultanahmet.

If you’re coming to Istanbul primarily for sightseeing, your first visit to the city, the hotels and inns, hostels and short-term rental apartments/flats in the neighborhoods of historic Old Istanbul (“Stamboul”), the peninsula on the south shore of the Golden Horn, provide easy access to Istanbul’s major sights.

Prime sights here include the Sultanahmet (Blue) MosqueTopkapı Palace, the Basilica Cistern, and Hagia Sophia, with the Grand BazaarEgyptian (Spice) Bazaar, and the docks for Bosphorus cruise boats also fairly close.

(If you’re coming more for boutique shoppingcafés, music clubs and the arts, you may want to stay in Beyoğlu, on the north shore of the Golden HornMore…)

Near the Hippodrome

Lodgings closest to the Hippodrome tend to be more expensive than those a bit farther from the main attractions, but distance is not the only consideration. Istanbul is a city of hills, and the walk to and from each hotel is different. Also, a more distant location with a variety of good restaurants and cafés may prove more appealing than one closer to the Hippodrome with its annoying carpet-shop touts.

Cankurtaran

Southeast down the slope from Ayasofya, near the posh Four Seasons Hotel, are dozens upon dozens of conveniently-located small hotels and hostels in all price ranges. This is perhaps the most popular hotel district right near the HippodromeMore…

Ayasofya

You can’t get any closer to Istanbul‘s major sights—in some cases, right next door to Ayasofya (Turkish for Hagia Sophia)—but that can also mean there’s noise. If you have limited mobility, however, this may be the area for you. More…

Hippodrome

Called the At Meydanı (Horse Plaza, ie, Hippodrome) in Turkish, the center of ancient Byzantium has hotels on its edges, all convenient, some quiet, each with particular advantages, though prices can be high because of the convenient location. More…

Binbirdirek

West of the Hippodrome up the hill, the underground Binbirdirek Byzantine cistern is topped by a quiet park, with some fairly quiet hotels nearby, yet they’re only a few minutes’ walk from the major sights. More…

Ahırkapı

About 800 meters (1/2 mile) downhill southeast of the Hippodrome right next to the historic city walls, the shore road and the Cankurtaran suburban train station, these hotels are a bit of a walk up and downhill from the Hippodrome (and taxisflouting the law, may refuse to take you), but they offer other advantages. More…

Little Hagia Sophia

Not to be confused with “big” Hagia Sophia, this district between the Küçük Ayasofya mosque (the former Byantine Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus) and the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque has many hotels large and small. Those closer to the Hippodrome save you a walk uphill, but you should also consider noise: a quiet street is important here.

Küçük Ayasofya

Down the slope southwest of the Blue Mosque to the Küçük Ayasofya Mosque, every third building is a boutique hotel or hostel. Dozens and dozens to choose from, lots of variety, but few good restaurants, some noise, and the highly useful tram is farther away. More…

Kadırga

Typical old-time Istanbul residential area farther downhill about 1 km (6/10 mile) southwest of the Hippodrome, west of Küçük Ayasofya and south of Beyazıt, a good choice if you want real Istanbul neighborhood life slightly off the beaten path, but you’ll have to climb that hill. In some cases, taxis won’t help you. More…

Sirkeci & Eminönü

Some of Istanbul’s best lodging values are in Sirkeci, a diverse and growing hotel area located between the Hippodrome and the Golden Horn, and only a 10-minute walk to either. This is where 19th-century travelers arrived at Sirkeci station aboard the fabled Orient Express, and many still choose it today.

Staying in neighboring Eminönü puts you within steps of the New Mosque, Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar, and Bosphorus cruise docks.

Sirkeci

Just down the hill from Sultanahmet, Sirkeci is also near the Kabataş-Bağcılar tramtrain stationferry docks and Galata Bridge. With dozens of lodging-places in all price ranges, it has great variety and selection, prices tend to be lower, and it has distinct transport advantagesMore…

Eminönü

Bustling with commerce—and traffic—but right in the hub of shopping and transport, with the Egyptian (Spice) BazaarGalata Bridge, and ferry docks (think Bosphorus cruise) close by. You can’t get more central to all of Istanbul, and both the Hippodrome and Beyoğlu are easily accessible by tramMore…

Divan Yolu & Beyazıt

The Roman road that is Old Istanbul‘s main avenue from the Hippodrome westward past the Grand Bazaar to Beyazıt Square has numerous hotels, restaurants and other services on and off it.

Divan Yolu

You’re near the great sites here, but prices for everything may be higher, and there may be noise, so choose carefully. More…

Piyer Loti

West of Binbirdirek along Divan Yolu, this quiet dead-end street named for the famous 19th-century French naval officer and novelist Pierre Loti has several fine, conveniently-located upscale boutique hotels. More…

Beyazıt

Beyazıt Square, dominated by the lofty gates of Istanbul University and the minarets of the imperial Beyazıt Mosque, is right next to the Grand Bazaar and the Old Book Bazaar, and only a 12-15 minute walk along Divan Yolu from Sultanahmet, even quicker by tram. Prices are lower here, too. More…

More Istanbul Hotels

Haven’t found what you want? Have a look at the hotel areas in Beyoğlu, north of the Golden Horn; or along the shores of the Bosphorus; or near Atatürk Airport.

—by Tom Brosnahan


Short List of Istanbul’s Best Hotels

Beyoğlu Hotel Districts

Bosphorus Hotels

Airport Hotels

All Istanbul Hotel Districts

Turkish Hotel User’s Guide

All Istanbul Hotels

Laundries in Istanbul

Istanbul Sights

Istanbul Restaurants

About Istanbul

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