Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At Sultanahmet is a very well-located luxury hotel in the middle of the major tourist sites. It’s a beautiful and unique property with a lot of character. The Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At The Bosphorus is right on the waterfront and has staggering waterside views.
Both properties offer two of the best hotels in Istanbul, but which should you choose? Which is the best Four Seasons in Istanbul: Bosphorus vs. Sultanahmet?
In terms of location, if you’ve already been to the major tourist sites and prefer to be closer to the fine dining and shopping in town, or don’t mind a short 15-20 min trip to the tourist sites, pick the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At The Bosphorus.
If you want to be able to step out of your hotel into the Old Town, an area full of history, tourist sites, and atmosphere, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At Sultanahmet is the one to choose.
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At The Bosphorus is on the water’s edge. You are so close to the boats which chug and sail past, you can almost touch them. At night, you can sit out on the waterside terrace under the stars and enjoy fine dining right next to this waterway at Aqua restaurant. During the day, you can sit around the pool and watch the boats potter by from your lounger. Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At The Bosphorus is definitely the better choice for views. However, it might be worth popping over to the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At Sultanahmet to try out their roof terrace, where you can enjoy a superb 360-degree panorama across the Bosphorus Strait and over the domes and minarets of the Aya Sofya mosque and Blue Mosque.
For history and atmosphere, both hotels win, but for different reasons. Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At Sultanahmet has bags of character in the communal spaces and in their rooms. The rooms here have high ceilings and arched windows. Request one looking over the inner courtyard if you can.
At Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At The Bosphorus, the base or standard rooms, which are the Superior, Courtyard, and Deluxe rooms, are in a modern building, and although they are undoubtedly luxury, they lack character. I would always pick the “Palace” rooms, some of the most original and historic hotel rooms in Istanbul. They have views of Istanbul’s iconic landmarks and high ceilings, a hardwood entry hall, and a combination of contemporary and Ottoman Turkish design, in tones of deep blue or terra cotta with copper and burgundy accents. The Palace rooftop suites are probably my favorite rooms in the whole of Istanbul as they have their own little terraces overlooking the Bosphorus.
As mentioned above, Aqua restaurant, at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At The Bosphorus, can’t be beaten for its almost Venetian waterside views.
Pictured above, the main outdoor pool at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At The Bosphorus is superb. There is also a palatial indoor pool for when the weather goes downhill. Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At Sultanahmet doesn’t have a pool of any sort, although their fragrant gardens are rather special.
Overall, the best Four Seasons in Istanbul is the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At The Bosphorus. However, be sure to book a palace room ideally with a view. If you want to explore the old town, I would also suggest a night or two at the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At Sultanahmet so you can explore the old town without having to shuttle up there, and then finish off with a relaxing and palatial stay at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At The Bosphorus.
Other luxury hotel options include the Ritz-Carlton with one of the best club lounges in Istanbul, the St Regis if you prefer the Marriott Bonvoy brand or the Park Hyatt. These latter two are barely a block apart and a 20-minute taxi ride from Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At Sultanahmet. Both are more modern and fresh in design aesthetic. The Park Hyatt is a gorgeous property with a superb pool (generally empty on weekends), but only the top suites have Bosphorus views.
We have reviewed both the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At The Bosphorus and the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet separately to give you the full picture of each resort so that you can make your final decision.
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul At The Bosphorus
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus (on the European bank) feels like a palace because it was originally a beautiful 19th-century Ottoman palace. This Four Seasons hotel is well located for exploring the famous Dolmabahçe Palace, a few buildings away, along with the Naval Museum and Yıldız Park, a steeply sloped park with pretty pavilions.
The Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus is badly located for public transport, but you can taxi to the transport hub of Kabataş and then tram across the Galata Bridge to the Old City and take the funicular up to Taksim Square.
This waterfront palace offers decadent dining venues providing views of the Asian shore, while the urban day spa boasts a Turkish hammam, famous for its purity and cleansing rituals. The highlight is the wide terrace decked in comfy seating, where you can sit out and enjoy watching the boats criss-cross the Bosphorus strait and look over to the hills on the other side in Asia.
In the evening, you can dine alfresco on the terrace in the Italian restaurant Aqua, and the bar area is lit by a large Tikki torch. It is utterly atmospheric. Aqua is also where you have breakfast. It has an indoor section for the colder weather, but in the summer is a wonderful place to munch through the generous Four Seasons buffet breakfast.
145 guestrooms and 25 suites all have windows that open to the sea breezes, contemporary mahogany furnishings, and handpainted ceilings. “Palace” rooms in the older buildings are the ones to choose, and these have been stunningly preserved. Two more modern buildings house the remaining rooms and suites.
Standard rooms can be found in the two modern buildings and offer views through large windows onto the courtyard. We like the rooms in the Palace building. The ones to pick are those looking onto the Bosphorus with large floor-to-ceiling windows, high ceilings, and marble bathrooms. Children are welcome in all Four Seasons hotels, and free rollaway beds, high chairs, and cots are provided free of charge.
There is a pretty waterside outdoor pool (pictured above), a whirlpool tub, and decking plastered with deeply plush loungers, which are positioned to make the most of the views. It is a great and sophisticated place for families and couples to hang out together between May and October. An indoor pool is ideal for the rest of the year and offers attractive lighting and grand pillars for an atmospheric swim. A large fitness room will keep you fit.
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet was previously a century-old neoclassic Turkish prison, a tranquil sanctuary in the heart of the city’s oldest district, just steps away from top historic attractions, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Haghia Sophia.
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet is much smaller than the Bosphorus hotel, with only 65 spacious guest rooms and suites. Each of the guest rooms is unique and intimate and is complemented by Four Seasons’ world-renowned standards of service.
The entrance is through a large arched wooden door sitting underneath pointed-arched patterned windows, and the courtyard, which was as an exercise yard for inmates, is now a fragrant landscaped garden full of flowers and herbs, designed around a pavilion. This is used as the hotel’s breakfast area and the main hotel restaurant.
Dining facilities include “Seasons Restaurant”, serving international cuisine; the “Winter Garden”, for afternoon tea and cocktails and the “Blue Room”, a cozy lounge for afternoon tea, cocktails, and after-dinner drinks. Breakfast is either served in the pavilion in the courtyard or outside on the veranda and is an extravagant buffet. Later in the day, the area turns into the Seasons Restaurant.
Homely rooms showcase traditional-style wooden furniture and art that reminds you of Istanbul’s Ottoman past, and almost all can house an extra bed. Children are welcomed at no extra charge. The best rooms look into the courtyard. Cheaper rooms face the street. The large bathrooms feature soaking tubs, separate showers, the WCs in a separate enclosure, Four Season’s toiletries, hairdryers, magnifying mirrors, and an ample supply of oversized 100% cotton towels.
Additional services/facilities include a health club, sauna and steam room, massage, 24-hour room service, babysitting service, 24-hour business services, 24-hour concierge service, complimentary newspaper, and laundry/dry cleaning service. There is no hammam or pool at this Four Seasons hotel, but you can take a free 20-minute minibus to the Four Seasons Bosphorus to use their facilities for a fee.
The roof terrace at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet is a must-see with a superb 360-degree panorama across the Bosphorus Strait and over the domes and minarets of the Aya Sofya mosque and Blue Mosque.
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