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Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, Istanbul

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Turkey, Asia: Bathe like a Sultan at Çirağan Palace Kempinski's Turkish Bath in Istanbul.
32 Çırağan Caddesi
Turkey 34349
Tel: 90 212 326 4646's insider take:

This mid-19th-century palace, located on the site of an 18th-century residence belonging to the last Ottoman sultans, housed the Turkish parliament for two months before becoming a city dump: You follow that? Well, all you need to know these days is that this is one of only two grand hotels on the European shores of the Bosphorus (the other is the just-opened Four Seasons) and it straddles two neighborhoods: colorful harbor-front Ortaköy with its outdoor restaurants and Beşiktaş, where you can hop on a Bosphorus ferry. Nearly all the 315 rooms are in an adjacent modern building—a charmless E-shaped block that is most remarkable for its water views. What you don't want is one of the 102 Park View rooms in back; unfortunately, to upgrade to the least expensive sea-view room adds about $165 per night. If you do so, you won't gain much in decor: Recent renovations haven't dimmed the corporate, ahem, magnificence. Throughout are armoires, headboards, desks, and nightstands in matching fancy wood veneers; the same cluster of faux-bazaar brocade pillows adorn each bed; superior rooms add an Arabian Nights canopy over the top. Still, they're large, the common areas are numerous and plush, and you can escape into the opulent hammam or the pool that butts right up against the Bosphorus—as do the three restaurants.

From the readers of Condé Nast Traveler:
Overall Score: 91.8
  • Design: 94.2
  • Food: 85.1
  • Location: 89.3
  • Rooms: 95.9
  • Service: 94.3
A restored sultan's palace connects to a grand hotel at this "spectacular site" on the Bosphorus. Rooms' "contemporary decor with glitzy touches" include chandeliers and furniture with Ottoman motifs. Tugra specializes in Turkish cuisine—try the signature testi kebap, an Anatolian dish of meat and vegetables cooked in a jug. Decompress with "a Turkish bath in the lovely spa" or a dip in the "truly magnificent" infinity pool.

(313 rooms)
—2011 Gold List

Amenities: Pool, Spa

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.