Turkey: Four Seasons Sultanahmet
The Four Seasons Sultanahmet, in a centuries-old building in the heart of Istanbul's ancient historic center, is an unfailingly gracious and graceful retreat amid the bustle of one of the world's most vibrant cities
View Room Service in a larger map
AddressTevkifhane Sokak No. 1 34110 Sultanahmet-Eminönü, Istanbul, Turkey 90/212/402-3000fourseasons.com
In the central courtyard, check out the peaked-roof guard-towers, which now house the hotel's elevators.
Count the windows. There are 347 of them—which is a lot for a former prison!Admire the mural-style artwork by local artist Timur Kerim Incedayi, in the Blue Room lounge.
- 65 rooms and suites
- In the heart of Istanbul's historic centre, within a few minutes' walk from Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and other key sites
- 24-hour in-room dining
- 12,000 square foot fitness center
The terrace also overlooks the hotel's landscaped central courtyard, which is where I took breakfast each morning. Now, you can have an excellent dinner at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet's restaurant, which is helmed by a Turkish chef who tends an on-site herb garden and gets his baby vegetables from local growers who work exclusively for him, but the most indelible sense-memory of my stay here was of those morning meals. Here was the genius of the Turkish breakfast on fresh and full display: salty beyaz peynir, a lightly aged sheep's milk cheese; gouda-like circassian smoked cheese; rings of simit, a bagel-like sesame bread; plump Turkish olives; cool yogurt; a panoply of dried fruits, and—in an odd twist I've seen elsewhere in Turkey—individual covered glass bowls of birchermüsli, the traditional Swiss rolled-oats-and-apple breakfast sacrament.
The Four Seasons Sultanahmet occupies a century-old building that once served as a prison. The fact that shackled inmates once roamed the courtyard outside my room's elegant wood-shuttered windows gave the place a curious historical frisson. As for my room—one of just 65—it ably married modern comforts (flatscreen TV, free wi-fi) with an understated neoclassical décor. The marble-clad lobby, corridors, and lounges exhibited a similarly tasteful union of cool minimalism and Ottoman-style indulgences like richly embroidered tapestries and intricate mosaics. It all combined winningly to give the place the feel of a cloistered, exclusive retreat amid the bustle of one of the world's most vibrant cities. —David McAninch
In the Area
- Mısır Çarşısı (The Spice Bazaar): The smaller and (slightly) more orderly cousin of Istanbul's legendary Grand Bazaar, this covered market and the surrounding streets are an excellent source for Turkish sweets, spices, tea, and other foodstuffs. It's just a 15-minute walk from the hotel. Cami Meydani Sok, Eminönü
- Kurukahveci Mehmet Effendi: This window-service-only shop near the Spice Market is Istanbul's oldest and—by the account of every local I talked to—best coffee purveyor. Beans are roasted and ground on the premises. Tahmis Sokak 66 Eminönü; tel: 90/212/511-426-263; mehmetefendi.com
- Nar Restaurant at the Armaggan Department Store: In 2011, the high-end culinary-products company Nar Gourmet opened a critically acclaimed full-service restaurant in the new Nuruosmaniye branch of Turkey's most prestigious department store—a ten-minute walk from the hotel. Ottoman specialties are the restaurant's forte. NişantaşiAbdi Ipekci Cadessi, Bostan Sok 8; tel: 90/212/291-6292