Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul, Istanbul $$$$
Tel: 90 212 334 4444
Concierge.com's insider take:
The Ritz-Carlton occupies 15 floors of one of the city's most controversial buildings: Süzer Plaza, a dreary monolith that stands obnoxiously at the heart of a primarily green zone, just behind the famous Beşiktaş İnönü football stadium. The R-C transformed the lackluster tower with its signature deluxe touch, making the most of the spectacular panoramas of the Bosphorus and the city: There is no such thing here as a room without some kind of a view. Interior designer Sinan Kafadar seamlessly blended the hallmark Ritz-Carlton classicism with a late-Ottoman flavor that never spills over into gaudy Orientalism. Bathrooms are adorned with modern İznik tiles; walls are decked with intriguing prints of old engravings and lithographs; the lobby, restaurant, and front bar areas are peppered with traditional teapots and bowls filled with lokum (Turkish delight). The hotel is physically not far from the city center, but the short stroll to attractions such as the Dolmabahçe Palace and Yıldız park is along narrow sidewalks that border terrifyingly busy main roads. Most guests rely on taxis, yet the staff handles the crush at the door with aplomb. Currently, the hotel's only food option is the rather formal Çintemani restaurant (there's an outdoor terrace in summer), but the wood-and-leather English club–style RC Bar on the lobby level is a fantastic setting for a drink or late-night boat-watching on the Bosphorus.