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Posted on: September 28, 2009 at 11:42AM

We're not sure where to stay for 4 days in istanbul. Should we be in the Old City near the sights? on the Bospherus? What hotels, 4* and up, have any of you stayed in that you would recommend or not? We appreciate any help. report a problem

Posted on: September 29, 2009 at 12:42PM

HI! Since it's a short visit, where you stay depends largely on what your priorities are. The Old CIty is indeed the best spot for sightseeing - Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and of course the bazaars. That said, it is very touristy and not quite representative of the "real," modern Istanbul. If you're more interested in contemporary Istanbul life - i.e., restaurants, nightclubs, shops, cafes, the modern museum, then you are better off in Beyoglu. The hotels along the Bosphorus are the most luxurious in Istanbul, but they are further removed from (most of) the above. Keep in mind that traffic in Istanbul can be treacherous, so you want to be as close to your priorities as you can be - without sacrificing your hotel standards. In short, if you're most interested in the sites, I suggest you stay in the Old City and dip into the modern part of town for dinners and nightlife. If you're interested in contemporary Istanbul, stay in Beyoglu and dip into the Old City for sightseeing. On my first trip, I spent a week and split it up. On my second, a long weekend, I stayed in Nisantasi (just north of Beyoglu) and found it somewhat tiresome to cab it back and forth to the Old City, but convenient for going out at night. I've stayed at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet, which is gorgeous and has a stunning location right next to the Hagia Sophia, but is quite expensive. I've also stayed at the Marmara Taksim in Beyoglu, which is rather dated but has an exemplary location that makes up for its shortcomings (I'd call it a 4-star, or even a 3-star plus). In Nisantasi, I stayed at the Sofa Hotel; it was stylish, but the service was hit-or-miss. Nisantasi itself is a nice, affluent neighborhood about 20-30 minutes from Beyoglu on foot. The other top luxury hotels (Ritz, W, Park Hyatt, Four Seasons Bosphorus, and Ciragan Palace, plus the more business-oriented InterContinental and Swissotel) all have their pluses and minuses, the latter usually related to location. The hotel listings on this site are pretty up to date and honest about the pros and cons. If hotel comfort is your priority, stay in one of these or the FS Sultanahmet, but prepared to devote some of your day to commuting. In the end, though, Istanbul is such a fascinating whirlwind of a city that you probably won't spend much time in your room! I hope that helps - reply if you need any more advice! Peter Frank Editor in Chief,

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