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Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus, Istanbul 

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28 Çırağan Caddesi
Turkey 34349
Tel: 90 212 381 4000
view web site ›'s insider take:

The Çırağan Kempinski must have been glancing nervously over its shoulder in June 2008, when the new Four Seasons Bosphorus opened in the elegant 19th-century Atık Paşa Palace right next door. Would the upstart steal its crown as the city's sultan of waterside luxury? The answer: not quite. While the new Four Seasons definitely rivals the Kempinski in opulence and service, it stops short of outshining its neighbor. In contrast to the compact elegance of the city's first Four Seasons—a 15-minute cab ride away in the old city of Sultanahmet—the chain's new location on the banks of the Bosphorus compensates for its peripheral address with bags of breathing space and a killer view. Ogle at the picture-perfect tableau of exterior poolside gardens set against the building's molded ivory facade, but avert your eyes from the painful sight of the two auxiliary wings, which contain most of the hotel's low- and mid-range rooms. The decor throughout is tasteful but humdrum, with muted tones of cream, beige, and brown and only a light sprinkling of Turkish motifs—a relief to some, a disappointment to others. If you're ready to shell out a few hundred euros extra, treat yourself to a room or suite in the palace building itself, where high ceilings and enormous windows offer a full frontal view of the Bosphorus—and the most romantic night in the city. (Rooms in the modern wings have at best partial views of the water; some overlook a brick wall and the adjacent high school.) Service is excellent, verging on obsequious (prepare to be addressed in French upon your arrival), and the hotel's in-house restaurant, Aqua, is worth a visit for chef Fabio Brambilla's Mediterranean fish fare. Make time for the spa here: The pillared underground swimming hall (swim underwater to hear classical music piped through the pool) and hammam offer an easy morning's pampering.

From the readers of Condé Nast Traveler:
Two modern wings flank the 19th-century Atik Pasha palace at this "unparalleled location" on the Bosphorus. Rooms have "gorgeous pillows, stellar views," and a rich palette of deep blue or terra-cotta; public spaces' marble inlays and 18th-century prints celebrate the site's past as one of the sultan's summer retreats. Aqua serves "spectacular seafood, wine, and outstanding mezes."

(170 rooms)
—2011 Gold List
Overall Score: 90.5
  • Design: 95.5
  • Food: 81.8
  • Location: 93.2
  • Rooms: 95.5
  • Service: 86.4

Also appeared in the Gold List in 2010

Amenities: Pool, Spa, Tennis

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From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
This beautifully renovated Ottoman palace—sister property to the Four Seasons in historic Sultanahmet—is on the teeming-with-life Bosphorus, well-sited in Besiktas, between Dolmabahçe Palace and the nightlife scene of Ortaköy. In this serene compound, guests are buffered from the crowds and the traffic (no doubt this is helped by the gated entrance and the fact the building is below street level). And once you walk through the foyer, the Bosphorus and the bridge are before you in full panorama. There's a large waterside pool with cabanas, tea service, and a 22,600-square-foot spa complete with a hammam. The 166 rooms are soothingly decorated with Ottoman-inspired flourishes and have extended three-sided divan windows, although not all rooms have Bosphorus views. The hotel's location leaves guests a bit taxi-dependent, but if you're finding it difficult to reach the historic sites, hire a captained boat. Though you will miss some of the finer details, a tour from the water means you won't ever have to stand in line or pay an entrance fee.—2009 Hot List

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