Should you make all your hotel reservations in advance of your trip to Turkey?
It’s a common question.
Spring (April and May) and autumn (September and October) are the busiest times for independent non-beach travel in Turkey, especially Istanbul and Cappadocia. Many of the best boutique hotels are heavily booked in these months, so you should expect higher prices, and reserve your rooms in advance. (Several months in advance is not too early to reserve.) Or plan your trip for the Istanbul-and-Cappadocia low-season months of March, June, July, August, November, or the winter.
High summer (mid-June, July, August, and early September) is the busiest time for beach resorts in Turkey. Istanbul and Cappadocia are not as heavily booked as in spring and autumn, so crowds are smaller and city boutique hotel rates are lower. (Here’s more on all the months of the year.)
Here are other points to consider, the first of which is that Turkey is now the 6th most popular travel destination in the world and at times (weekends, special events,holidays) all of the hotels in a given place may be fully booked.
1. Reserve Your First Night
It’s a good idea to reserve at least the first night or twoof your stay in Turkey. The day you arrive will be confusing and time-consuming enough without having to look at several hotels to find the room you want at a price you want to pay. If the hotel you’ve chosen in advance is not exactly what you want, you can always find another one—but you won’t have to search for it that first night, tired, perhaps jet-lagged, and totally unfamiliar with Turkey.
2. Make “Rolling Reservations”
You can make “rolling reservations:” reserve your first few nights in Turkey in advance, before leaving home. As soon as you arrive in Turkey, ask your hotel clerk or a travel agency to help you make a reservation for your next destination(s). Have the names and phone numbers of a few hotels in each place you want to visit. This will help the clerk or travel agent to get started. If a chosen hotel is full, that hotel may recommend a similar hotel nearby.
3. Reserve Special Hotels
If there is a particular hotel or class of hotel that you really want to stay in, reserve your room as far in advance as possible. The most popular hotels may fill up at any time of year, summer or winter, particularly on weekends and holidays (both Islamic and non-Islamic).
4. Reserve at Peak Times
Each year is different in Turkish tourism. On some dates in recent years, a hotel room in Istanbul was not to be had for love or money. Watch TurkeyTravelPlanner.com for bulletins of how busy a year is shaping up to be, and plan accordingly.
5. Get to Your Next Destination Early
If you want to be a vagabond and find hotels when you arrive in a place, at least travel early in the day. This often works fine in Turkey if it’s not a boom year or one of the busiest months. Get an early start on the road and plan to reach your destination by mid-afternoon—late afternoon at the latest!—to give yourself time to find the hotel you want. You will get the vacant room, while those who arrive in the evening or at night may be out of luck. Most hotels know by 10:00 am or 11:00 am if they will have rooms available for that night.
6. If All Else Fails…
If you find yourself in a new place in the evening and the hotels seem full, ask any hotelier to help you find a room. Turks are hospitable and if the hotelier has the time and ability to help you, s/he probably will. But there may be little s/he can do if everything’s full. You may end up paying more than you want, or staying farther away from the center, or in a hotel below your preferred standard.
In summary, there’s no clear, consistent answer to the question “Should I reserve my hotel rooms in advance?” It depends on a number of factors. You must decide, guided by the tips above.
You can check room rates and availability on Booking.com, a TTP partner, or look for a room on AirBnB: