Four Seasons at Sultanahmet Istanbul
Istanbul has been the center of the civilised world for centuries and always at the center stage for the cultural clash of East and West. This results in a plethora of historical sites to behold and a rich culture to experience. This world famous tourist destination offers a lot of hotels for accommodation and this time we chose one of the best, I am sure. Why? Read below.
VIP Transfer from Airport
For a seamless experience we chose to book the VIP airport transfer offered by Four Seasons. This way your luxury stay starts when leaving your plane: someone will pick you up and take you on one of those electric buggies to the fast lane security check (for crew and diplomats) and then help you pick up the checked-in luggage from the belt. Then the driver will escort you to a BMW 7 series equipped to the max.
This was a really cool feature (not cheap though, about 200 EUR) that avoided dreaded waiting times at Atatürk airport and haggling with a taxi driver.
This Four Seasons is located in the center of the old town of Istanbul and thus is neighbouring world famous tourist spots like the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace. Special about this hotel is that it was a prison in the old days. To some this might seem like a bad omen and limit the capabilities of a modern interior designer, but to me they managed to combine modern features with chateau-like luxuries to a perfect case of: acknowledging its heritage and adding something new.
The inner courtyard with its beautiful gardening turns the prison into an oasis amid the hectic touristic area of Sultanahmet that you love to come back to after a day of touring.
We got a room on the ground floor. The decor was only partly to my liking, but of course that’s a matter of taste. I did like the patented Four Seasons bedding and also the L’Occitane bathroom amenities.
As you can see, we didn’t get a great view. If you sat on the corner and looked up you could see the Hagia Sophia. I am sure you can pay much more for a wonderful suite with the best views of Istanbul.
Also, the wifi in this room didn’t work very well. The IT guy was great and explained to us that all the corner rooms have this problem, the thick walls of this old building don’t work well with the wifi waves. He even offered us to change the room, but we didn’t want to go through that trouble. How about using cable to a small router in each corner room?
The rooftop bar of the Four Seasons deserves its own chapter. This was arguably our favourite spot in the hotel. Views of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque on the one side and the Bosphorus on the other.
We didn’t have dinner in the main restaurant, but ordered room service once and had lunch on the first day in the nice courtyard. Anytime and anywhere service was impeccable and the food was really good and authentic (I think).
Breakfast was served in the courtyard restaurant. A nicely arranged buffet with a good selection, fast and friendly service and a live cooking station outside made for a proper five star buffet.
The pancake that was cooked to order was the best I have ever had in my life. Disclaimer: I am not a usual pancake guy, but I had bad ones before. And this one with the fresh raspberry jam on top was unbelievable.
Pool at the Four Seasons Bosphorus
Since the FS at Sultanahmet doesn’t have a pool or spa area, they offer free shuttle service to their sister hotel FS at the Bosphorus.
We decided to go to the pool on our last day before our evening flight. The day before we took a (public) boat tour upstream where I could take some pictures of the FS Bosphorus from the seaside.
Next time we’re gonna stay in the Four Seasons at the Bosphorus. It’s not close to where we wanted to be on this trip, but next time I am sure we would want to visit other parts of Istanbul and it seemed like a fantastic hotel.
|Hotel||Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet|
With all the niceties of the Four Seasons at Sultanahment in Istanbul, there is one thing I will remember above all when thinking about this stay: The service was the best I have ever experienced. Everyone, really everyone, made our problem, however stupid it was, to their problem. Examples:
We needed to have a dress changed by a tailor for an evening event and the concierges got a great external tailor coming in (he even only charged real Turkish prices without any FS premium).
For that same event we also needed a hair dresser just before the event started and this was organised in the same seamless way. During the preparations for the event we had the personal phone number of the concierge so that we could coordinate via messenger. This way we could concentrate on the tourist stuff.
When we asked for going to a specific place, they gave us an Istanbul card that was already charged for free to be used for trams and other public transportation.
We got great recommendations for tourist spots and also really valuable time-saving info, e.g. to skip the big lines at the museums we wanted to buy the museum card and got the tip to buy this at the mosaic museum, where no one wants to go (sorry), since you can buy this card at any participating museum. So we didn’t have to wait in line to buy the line-skipping museum card valid for the famous spots. Perfect!
On our last day at the pool my drink was spilled on my shirt by the wind (don’t ask). It was no ones fault, but they turned it into their problem by offering to take it into dry cleaning. When I said that we have to catch a flight this evening he said we can make it. And he was right. They made it and we were not charged for it. This felt like genuine customer-centric service attitude.
And this feeling I had with every encounter with the staff.
Now this might come across as a strange summary for regular Four Seasons (or Aman) guests, because for them this kind of service level might be normal. For me, though, it was the first stay in a Four Seasons hotel and that is why I explicitly want to point this out for everyone who wondered what justifies the usual 1000 USD per night price tag. This Four Seasons, though, is significantly cheaper. About 400 USD per night. So perfectly suited as a gateway drug into ultra luxury…