This is the fourth time I visit the Turkish capital. Istanbul is a fascinating city where Europe meets Asia through the waters of the Bosphorus strait. I have stayed in several hotels during my previous visits to the city and every single time I had a good experience. All hotels, or at least those which I have chosen to stay in the past, seemed to have very high standards. During my last trip to Istanbul in October of 2016, my hotel did not disappoint. On the contrary, it proved to be a luxurious and pleasurable experience with wonderful views of the water. The Intercontinental Istanbul, with its attentive and courteous staff, became for 3 nights my home away from home.
Location, location, location
Because of its privileged location sitting on a hilltop, and the angled shape of its building, 80% percent of all the rooms in the Intercontinental Istanbul offer splendid views of the city in which the Bosphorus strait is included. Besides the view, the hotel sits behind the main square of the modern part of town, Taksim square, where transportation such as the metro line is at the doorstep. Boats and electric trams are a short downhill descend, and taxis are reasonably priced and always available at the hotel’s front entrance. One nice thing the hotel provides when a cab is taken at the hotel is a ticket that states the license plate of the taxi and the phone number of the concierge in case there is any trouble with fares upon arrival. Taxis in Istanbul are notorious for overcharging passengers and this ticket from the hotel is a nice guarantee that passengers can have a ride without hassles.
A Luxurious property
The Intercontinental chain is one of the oldest five star hotel chains in the world. All around the world the IC, as it is also called, follows the same standards of grand luxury from accommodation to lobby, to restaurants and leisure areas. Before Istanbul, I stayed at IC properties in San Salvador and Argentina, and they all offered great comfort and beautifully designed common areas. The Intercontinental Istanbul is no different. The lobby abounds in marble, crystal chandeliers and fresh flowers. Its vast central foyer has plenty of light and overlooks an internal garden. The hotel also offers great security, which is efficient and at the same discreet (all large hotels in Istanbul have metal detectors upon entering for the safety of guests but the IC manages to do it with ease and grace).
Silent rooms with great views
It is impossible not to be seduced by the splendid views that the rooms at the IC offer. In their great majority rooms face the Bosphorus strait, which afford water views as well as the mountains beyond. Asia is right across the water and one may spend hours watching the boats pass by. Even the few standard rooms that don’t face the water still offer nice views. They look onto Taksim square and Gezi park and one may silently watch the busy city life pass by from the quietness of their room.
For those who prefer a truly stunning view from their rooms should book one of the hotel`s suites. Spacious and luxurious, the suites are impressive. Suite 1215 for instance has an entry hall, powder room, office, living, dining, a super king sized bed and luxurious marble bathroom with separate tub and shower fit for a sultan. Agraria bath products are also king size, transforming the bathroom experience into a truly royal Turkish bath .
And the view… The large floor to ceiling glass windows seem to hug the entire city bringing the water and the mountains beyond almost inside the spacious room. It is impossible not to fall in love with the city this way.
Fitness, pool and spa
For those like me who can’t afford to miss the gym while traveling, the IC Istanbul offers vast leisure facilities that include an external swimming pool, a spa and a large fitness area. The spa follows a high standard and an international pattern of massage cabins offering various treatments for all tastes. And all with good design that encourages a soothing and relaxing atmosphere.
Its fitness center on the contrary is quite energizing. The cardio area is in a glassed in area with views to the garden and its enormous weight area, spread over two large rooms, has all the equipment one needs to keep up with the fitness routine. There is only a handfull of hotels that I’ve ever been to that offer such a complete gym and fitness area. And best of all, during the two mornings in which I did my weight training routine, I had it all to myself.
Breakfast and Safran restaurant
At the recently renovated breakfast room, the modern open kitchen has multiple chefs waiting to prepare, in a matter of minutes, delicious omeletes. Besides all you would expect at a five star hotel breakfast, such as fresh fruits, cheeses, breads, cold cuts, cakes, cereals, yogurts, juices and jams of all kinds, the IC breakfast offers a selection of saladas and Turkish specialties such as hummus and local olives.
But for a truly unforgettable evening of Turkish flavors, the place to go is the top floor restaurant Safran . There the views are splendid and the food delicious. Order the traditional meze, a selection of dishes in small portions made for sharing, and many Turkish flavors with invade your senses and create memories that will last a lifetime.
The Intercontinental Istanbul completely won me over during the 3 nights I spent there. I slept well, ate well, trained hard and used the good location as a base for exploring the city sights, such as the old Galata Tower located only one metro stop away. In my observations throughout the hotel, I always saw employees smiling and being very courteous to other guests. I always like to try new hotels when I revisit a city, but this time I think I found my home away from home at the Intercontinental, where I intend to return and return again in years to come.
Gus Dantas, publisher gusdantaslife, stayed at the Intercontinental Istanbul and paid in advance for his 3 night stay in October 2016. Upon arrival he was kindly offered an upgrade to one of their suites. Standard rooms can be found at certain times of the year for as little as US$ 100 plus tax in various booking sites.