Having been built first, it had the pick of the best sites, which is why it has 13 acres (over 5 hectares) of gardens, with tennis courts and swimming club, and superb views over Dolmabahçe Palace to the Bosphorus beyond.
Most of the hotel's east-facing rooms have splendid Bosphorus views; the ones looking west overlook the city, which is less inspiring, but not bad. It's also the only top luxury hotel in which every room has its own balcony.
Many more modern and luxurious hotels have been built in Istanbul in recent years, but I still really like the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus. It has always been Istanbul's status address for me because of its great location, spacious gardens, and excellent staff.
Other luxury hotels are nearby, and even a bit closer to Taksim Square, but without the Hilton's spacious grounds or balconies: look at the Divan Oteli, the Ceylan Inter-continental, and the Grand Hyatt Istanbul.
It's easy to reserve a value-priced private airport transfer 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. More...
—by Tom Brosnahan