Ayasofya Mansions, Istanbul $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
It would be hard to get much closer to history than one of these small rooms that back onto the outer walls of Topkapı Palace and look directly at the side of the Hagia Sophia. Located along a row of brightly painted old wooden houses on a marvelously restored cobbled street with a guard placed at either end (presumably to maintain the scene's Disney-like innocence), the Ayasofya Mansions are a reasonable option for those wishing to stay in the heart of the historic district. Indeed, you'll know you've arrived when you hear the call to prayer coming from several mosques in the vicinity (the first one just before dawn). The little lane was transformed in the late '80s by the Touring and Automobile Club of Turkey, which later also undertook the restoration of the Hotel Konuk Evi farther down the street. Both places are run from the same reception base and offer a pretty independent setup, with guests responsible for letting themselves in, and rooms that are clean, if a bit shabby, with tacky brass beds. The Konuk Evi is located in a grander, mansionlike building with late-Ottoman chandeliers, giant gilded mirrors, piano with candelabra, and a huge 19th-century painting of Sultan Abdülmecid hanging on the wall.
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