During our recent adventure in the mega-metropolis of Istanbul, TLE checked-in at the Boutique St. Sophia. This is a 26 room property in the heart of the historic Sultanahmet district, the touristy area where most of the city’s historic sights are within walking distance. This hotel defines itself on its friendly team, well-equipped, fairly-priced rooms and its easy access to the old centre of Istanbul.
What to Expect
The Boutique St. Sophia is unashamedly a tourist hotel, but presented with a degree of flair and style that certainly lifts it above the abundance of generic properties in the central tourist district.
A clear influencer on the decision to choose this hotel is its location. It is within walking distance of the iconic Hagia Sophia Museum, as well as the ‘Blue Mosque’, Basilica Cistern and the Topkapi Palace. It’s also close to the exotic Grand Bazaar – so in all, a stay here does make you feel you are experiencing the quintessential Istanbul, even though it is a very busy and popular district.
The exterior of the property is not particularly impressive – it looks like a large house, with a large hotel sign on its roof yet the interior style is contemporary and striking. The various room types makes a luxury stay in the historic city centre quite accessible on price – whilst also offering a few upscale suites for those that want to push the boat out.
The hotel is on a busy street that is also on the main tram route, so understandably at night guests should accept some noise as the trams pass by. In addition, due to its proximity to mosques, the late night and early morning call to prayer is quite loud – yet neither really bothered me that much. Light sleepers should bring ear-plugs or request a room that is not overlooking the street.
The hotel is so close to all the main tourist sites as well as many restaurants and bars that in my experience not many guests chose to eat or drink in the hotel, so during my stay the smart bar area and the Pita Restaurant and tapas bar were relatively peaceful and uncrowded. As a small hotel, the team know the guests and the atmosphere feels friendly and welcoming.
Check-in & Welcome
Check-in was swift and friendly at the 24 hour reception – the style was informal. At busy times I was told that in-room check-in is offered. I was escorted to my room.
There are 4 room types, starting with a Superior, through Deluxe and Grand Deluxe to the Hagia Sophia Courtyard Suites. I was given a Deluxe Guest Room; a corner room with an outlook over the street and up to the main square. It was a treat to be able to see the iconic minarets of Blue Mosque from the room.
The design of the room is quite simple and elegant – the wall behind the bed is dominated by an over-sized sepia print of the Hagia Sophia museum, very much anchoring the hotel to its special location.
The bed was made with super-soft linens, down duvet and offered a choice of pillows. The writing desk with lamp was also equipped with mini bar, a coffee machine, complimentary mineral water etc. The welcome amenity included fresh fruit and nuts.
The room had neutral furnishings and lots of wood – but the wooden floor needed to be repolished as it was showing signs of wear and tear. The room was very clean.
Useful amenities included a safe big enough for my iPad and laptop, decent Wi-Fi, as well as an iron and ironing board, which is so handy when you are travelling. (I wish more hotels would include that instead of selling their pressing service). The bathrobe was excellent and there were of course slippers too.
The bathroom was modern, in white marble with stylish, Bvlgari ‘au thé vert’ toiletries, and the shower was excellent.
The air-con worked very well.
There was an evening turndown service which was a nice, unexpected touch.
Would I recommend it?
Overall the level of accommodation was very good considering the price. For a tourist hotel, this offers a flavour of luxury and style. The room was well-equipped, elegant and comfortable and provided the perfect base to explore the old town without the need for taking public transport or taxis – traffic congestion in Istanbul can be legendary so it’s a genuine luxury to be able to step out of a comfortable hotel and enjoy the sights within minutes. The Boutique St. Sophia is a very good option for those wanting a stylish yet competitively priced hotel, well positioned for sightseeing.
Rooms start from around 110 GB pounds including breakfast which is available until late.
Address: Alemdar Mh. Alemdar Caddesi No:2,34400 Istanbul, Turkey
Tel: +90 212 528 0973
Review carried out by Andrew Forbes