Istanbul's Sirkeci Mansion Hotel (formerly Sirkeci Konak) is a gem of a 5-star boutique hotel tucked down a quiet side street just steps away from the Gülhane tram stop on the Bağcılar-Kabataş tram line, and right beside the walls of Gülhane Park, the pleasure ground of the Ottoman sultans (map).
TripAdvisor gives it the Travelers' Choice® Award as one of the top 25 hotels in Turkey. (Actually, it's one of the top-top hotels, year after year.)
Attractively faced with wood, the hotel features 52 guest rooms, all of them decorated in a style that mixes Ottoman influences with up-to-the-minute luxury.
Big, comfortable beds come with a menu of pillow types to suit the most unexpected preferences and allergies.
Tea and coffee-making facilities by the bed are a nice touch, as are the foreign-language television channels on the plasma-screen TV. But it’s the little details – the magazine on the table, the Turkish delight on the bed – that really marks this out as a hotel which goes that extra mile to please its guests.
The bathrooms, many with tubs and underfloor heating, come equipped with a range of toiletries, including olive oil soap. They have washcloths, drain plugs, and facial tissues—items not normally found in Turkish bathrooms—as well as hair dryers, make-up mirrors, and heated towel racks.
All the rooms have Wifi Internet access and some are designated for non-smokers. Several elevators/lifts serve all floors, and a number of rooms are specially designed and equipped for disabled travelers.
The deluxe rooms are particularly fine, with wet bars, bathrooms with separate shower and tub-and-shower facilities, and private terraces with Gülhane Park views.
In fact, any guest at the Sirkeci Mansion can enjoy views of the park from the sun terrace on the top floor. Stretch out in a chaise longue and let the sun soak in, or order a beverage and gaze at the forest of poplars just on the other side of Gülhane Park's stone walls. (During one stay here, I watched storks circle and land in their nests high up in the park's towering trees.)
The physical comforts of the hotel are one thing. The apparent friendliness and willingness of the well-trained staff are quite another. I've always found it exceptional when I've stayed here.
A Guest Relations Manager is almost always present in the public areas to answer questions and help you to make any travel arrangements you may need.
Breakfast, served in the ground-floor Neyzade Restaurant, is a veritable banquet of hot and cold dishes, regional cheeses, home-made jams, etc. You’ll even be served the hotel’s own Sirkeci Daily Express which gives you the weather forecast, warns you of museum closures and suggests a few helpful Turkish phrases to learn during the day.
Afternoon tea is served in the ground-floor sitting area daily and is complimentary for hotel guests. It’s a great chance to meet your affable host, Mr. Faruk Boyacı, whose family originally came from Cappadocia.
View of Sirkeci Mansion Hotel. Click here to check availability.
Mr. Boyacı also provides these Turkish cultural activities, all but one at no charge to hotel guests:
—Fine cuisine is such a focus at the Sirkeci Mansion that the hotel offers 45-minute cooking lessons at no charge to hotel guests several times per week: you learn how to prepare several traditional Turkish dishes, then dine on the results.
—Fatih Market Trip: Wednesday morning the hotel's van takes guests to this colorful, untouristy market, where you can wander as you like.
—Han Tour: a Saturday morning walk among Istanbul's historic hans (caravanserais)
—Rakı Experience: late Saturday afternoon, join the culinary staff for a tasting of rakı, Turkey's traditional anise-flavored grape brandy.
—Turkish Wines & Cheeses: a half-hour tasting of local wines and cheese each Thursday evening (TL15 fee per person to cover expenses).
The Sirkeci Mansion's owner, Mr. Faruk Boyacı, offers a special 5% discount on room rates to TTP travelers coming from "because they are the kind of travelers we want," Mr. Boyacı said: interested in art, architecture, history, culture, and cuisine. To receive the special discount you must reserve your room(s) via this special TTP link. which will take you to the Reseliva reservations service. The discount will be automatically calculated, and the rates displayed will be lower than any others. Try it!
TTP travelers are also entitled to receive a Welcome Drink at arrival, a complimentary bottle of wine, complimentary Turkish coffee after dinner in the hotel's fine restaurant, and a Farewell Gift at departure. If you stay at least three nights, and mention TTP, you are entitled to even more bonuses:
—10% discount on your room bill if you pay in cash upon arrival. (Hotel rates are quoted in euros, but you may pay in euros, US dollars, GB pounds, or Turkish liras.)
This is a hotel which provides everything you need in the same spot. The lowest floor holds a small swimming pool right beside a luxurious private hamam whose walls are lined with marble interspersed with reproduction İznik tiles. There’s also a small sauna and a well-equipped exercise room with a full complement of workout equipment and body-toning machines. The Internet café has computers and printers to use for personal email or business. All are available at no charge to hotel guests. The reception desk has tram tokens for sale to make transport on the highly useful Bağcılar-Kabataş tram even easier.
In the evening the Neyzade Restaurant serves an excellent selection of Turkish regional cuisine at surprisingly moderate prices in stylish surroundings. In summer the restaurant migrates to the roof terrace which offers great views into Gülhane Park.
The attractions of Old Istanbul—the Topkapı Palace, Aya Sofya, the Blue Mosque and Hippodrome—are a 10-minute uphill walk away in Sultanahmet, while the ferry docks for the Bosphorus, Haydarpaşa Station, Üsküdar, and Kadıköy are just a short stroll downhill in Eminönü.
The hotel's location, on a side street of hotels and shops directly opposite the walls of Gülhane Park, is a blessing in disguise because of the quiet. Although only a half-block from a major street and tram stop, there is little traffic noise. As there are few minaret loudspeakers nearby, the call to prayer comes as a beautiful, distant bit of song.