17 Uniquely Gorgeous Boutique Hotels in Istanbul to Stay + Hidden Gems

A woman sipping a drink on a rooftop in Istanbul

Istanbul has been a melting pot of culture for thousands of years – straddling the divide between Europe and Asia, the city is considered part of both continents and is a perfect blend of religion, architecture, design, and culture from both. And it’s a huge city – with over 15 million people, Istanbul is considered the most populous city in Europe and the 15th largest city in the world. It’s truly an incredible city to visit, featuring historic palaces, museums, and some of the coolest restaurants and hotels in the world. While visiting Istanbul, take advantage of its deep cultural heritage and impressive architecture and stay at one of these gorgeous boutique hotels in the Istanbul.

Whether you prefer five-star accommodation or bohemian chic, we’ve rounded up the cutest and very best boutique hotels in Istanbul for you! Did we miss one? Suggest it in the comments below!

Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Istanbul

You already know Istanbul is one of the best places to visit in Turkey (in the whole world, really), but it’s such a vast city you may not know where is the best place to stay to see everything. Here are some of the best neighborhoods to stay in and use as a base for exploring Istanbul.

1. Sultanahmet

  • Known as the historic center of the city, Sultanahmet has been the seat of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires and has the architecture to prove it. 
  • The Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace are all in this neighborhood, as well as hotels and restaurants to accommodate all the tourists visiting those places. 
  • While its history and architecture are amazing, you’ll probably find more Turkish culture in other neighborhoods.
  • Best place to stay for first time visitors and newbie travelers.

2. Galata ★

  • Part of the Beyoğlu district, Galata is the best neighborhood in Istanbul for contemporary art and culture. 
  • SALT Galata and Pera Museum are both here, as well as numerous boutique hotels that have established themselves in old banks and mansions.
  • The views from rooftop bars in Galata are worth the visit alone – because it’s right on the Golden Horn, you get views of the Horn, the mosques of Sultanahmet, and the Bosphorus all in one. 

3. Karaköy ★

  • Just east of Galata, Karaköy is full of hipster bars and cafes, but also galleries and boutique hotels.
  • The side streets of Karaköy are full of local restaurants and dessert shops, making it one of the best neighborhoods to stay in if you love trying local food.

4. Balat

  • One of the most Instagram-able neighborhoods, Balat is the former Greek Orthodox and Armenian neighborhoods in Istanbul. 
  • Full of colorful houses and charming churches, Balat is also home to tons of antique stores for treasure hunters. You’ll also find vintage stores, art galleries, and coffee shops in this neighborhood along the southern edge of the Golden Horn.

5. Moda (& Kadikoy) ★

  • Moda is my favorite neighborhood in Istanbul! And Kadikoy is just minutes from Moda closer to the ferry terminals.
  • Located on the Asian side of the city, Moda offers an artistic and hip vibe with both traditional and modern charm along the water. Moda is just a short ferry ride away from the main attractions in the city. So you’re not swarmed with tourists but you’ll be rewarded with several restaurants, shops, and other local gems.
  • Don’t miss: Moda Park, Moda Pier, Moda Street Market, antique shops, and the trendy cafes and restaurants.
  • Reminds me of Izmir (the second largest city in Turkey).

Beautiful & Charming Boutique Hotels in Istanbul

1. Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul (Sultanahmet) ★

It may surprise visitors to learn the five-star Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet used to be a prison. After an extensive renovation, it reopened in 2023, offering luxurious rooms and a brand new spa. The architecture perfectly balances traditional architecture and modern amenities with both contemporary Turkish and Ottoman-era art throughout the hotel and guest rooms. The central courtyard (once the prison yard) is a lush and relaxing space. With a location right between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, the Four Seasons Sultanahmet makes an ideal location for visiting some of the must-see sites in Istanbul

2. Soho House Istanbul ★

Located in the heart of the Beyoğlu district in the historic Palazzo Corpi, Soho House Istanbul is one of the city’s most artistically styled boutique hotels. The building features event spaces, three restaurants, and over 350 works of art spanning decades of Turkish art. Stop by Noir Pit Coffee Co, just a short walk away, for some of the freshest coffee you can get in the city – they roast their own beans. Another quick walk will take you to the Meşher art gallery, which showcases both modern art and historical collections. Finish your day with dinner and drinks at Apheleia Terrace, Soho House’s rooftop bar and restaurant with incredible sunset views over the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus.

3. The Stay Nisantasi

The Stay is a glossy, modern boutique hotel in the Şişli district, within walking distance of the Bosphorus. The rooms have walk-in dressing rooms and marble en suites, and the suites feature a balcony with great city views. In the heart of the shopping district and just upstairs from the Prada store, The Stay is an excellent blend of a luxury European feel and a neighborhood vibe. Visit the Teşvikiye Mosque nearby, an 18th-century mosque often used as a starting point for the funerals of famous Turkish figures. For dinner with a view, splurge a bit and check out Spago on top of the St. Regis Hotel with a terrace and sushi bar.

4. Bosphorus Palace Hotel

Literally on the shores of the Bosphorus Strait, the Bosphorus Palace is one of the most beautiful small luxury hotels in Istanbul. On the Anatolian side of the city, the Palace Hotel has only twelve rooms, but all have luxurious furnishings, high ceilings, and views of the stunning gardens or the Bosphorus. Just a few minutes walk away is the Beylerbeyi Palace, a beautiful historic palace with incredible architecture, including an exceptional bathing pavilion. Round out a day of strolling the Bosphorus with dinner at Inciralti Meyhanesi, known for its mezes and Halal dishes.

5. The Galata Istanbul Hotel MGallery

Comprised of a historic hammam and an Italian bank building, the Galata Istanbul Hotel MGallery is a stunning luxury hotel just minutes from the Golden Horn. Because it’s right in the center of the bustling part of the city, it’s a great location to explore all Istanbul has to offer. Just a block away, you’ll find Salt Galata, an impressive modern art museum housed in a historic bank. While out strolling, walk the Kamondo Stairs, an art nouveau staircase built in the 1850s and a popular site for street musicians.

6. Sub Karaköy

A modern hotel with an industrial-chic vibe, the Sub Karaköy provides all the luxuries of a boutique hotel with a minimalist design. Start your day by enjoying Sub Karaköy’s generous breakfast spread of Turkish pastries, followed by a coffee at Karabatak, a cute shop with outdoor seating perfect for people-watching in the city. Spend the day strolling through the historic streets of Karaköy and enjoy an authentic Turkish meze dinner spread at the famous Karaköy Lokantasi. Finally, round out your day by grabbing baklava at Karaköy Güllüoğlu. While this chain of dessert shops can be found throughout Istanbul, locals know this location is the best in the city. 

7. Georges Hotel Galata

In the heart of the Galata neighborhood is one of the most sophisticated boutique hotels in all of Istanbul, the Georges Hotel Galata. All of the rooms feature parquet hardwood floors, black marble bathrooms and feature exquisite fabrics like Egyptian cotton linen and duck-down duvets. No visit to Galata would be complete without stopping by the Galata Tower, built in 1348, only 50m from the Georges Hotel. The streets surrounding the tower have lovely little shops and cafes. An interesting side trip in the neighborhood is the Galata Convent of Whirling Dervishes which holds a Sema ceremony every Sunday. The ceremony features five members of the Sufi congregation spin rhythmically in circles and can be a very moving experience to observe. Finish your Galata stay with an evening on the Georges rooftop terrace, whose restaurant boasts one of the most incredible views of the city.

8. AJWA Sultanahmet

Step into the five-star AJWA Sultanahmet, and you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time, even though it’s a brand-new hotel. Featuring Ottoman décor throughout, the mosaic tilework and ornate latticework feel historical, but the remote-controlled blinds, in-floor heating, and flat-screen TVs feel super modern. A central location to all the landmark Sultanahmet sites, the AJWA is within walking distance of the Blue Mosque and Nuruosmaniye Mosque and not far from the Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sofia, and Basilica Cistern.

9. Sumahan on the Water ★

On the Anatolian side of the city, along the Bosphorus, is one of the best small luxury hotels in Istanbul, Sumahan on the Water. Blending industrial design with contemporary architecture, the hotel feels brand new.  However, the buildings were constructed in the 1820s as a factory making raki, a strong spirit made with twice-distilled grapes. Waterfront Restaurant is the aptly named hotel restaurant, and provides guests with beautiful views of the Bosphorus all day. All rooms have a water view, and the hotel even provides guests with binoculars to see the bridges and minarets in the distance. The property even features a lighthouse, one of nineteen on the Bosphorus. The hotel also features an impressive hammam, a traditional Turkish bath, a must-do experience while visiting Istanbul.

10. Seven Hills Hotel 

On the southern edge of Sultanahmet is the Seven Hills Hotel, one of the best-located boutique hotels in Istanbul. With a view of the Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque, the view from Seven Hills may be as lovely as the guest rooms. The hotel features a rooftop deck and restaurant to enjoy a meal with your view. Seven Hills is surrounded by excellent restaurants like the Turk Art Terrace, which offers outdoor dining between the Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque.

11. Kybele Hotel

In the historic Sultanahmet neighborhood, just a few minutes’ walk from the Hagia Sofia, is the adorably chic Kybele Hotel. Filled with antiques and colorful décor, the boutique hotel features quirky charm, like hundreds of unique lights hanging from the ceiling in the rooms and common areas. With literally over one hundred restaurants within a five-minute walk, you’ll have a hard time deciding what to eat among the choices. We recommend Foodie-ist Café and Brasserie for a morning coffee and bite, Nars Brasserie for a late afternoon lunch and cocktail, and the Deraliye Terrace for dinner or drinks with incredible views of the Hagia Sofia and surrounding area.

12. Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul ★

Have you ever wanted to stay in an actual palace?  The Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul gives you that opportunity – it’s a five-star luxury hotel built in a former Ottoman palace right on the shores of the Bosphorus. Featuring 310 rooms (each with a balcony), five restaurants, two bars, a pastry shop, an infinity pool, and a luxury spa, you won’t want to leave the Çırağan to explore the rest of the city. The hotel features a stunning atrium and grand staircase that looks like it belongs in, well, a palace! Located just north of the busiest parts of the city, it will be a bit quieter around the Çırağan, but it’s not far from Ortakoy Square, the bustling square filled with cafes, restaurants, and shops. Many people come here and purchase a baked potato from one of the street vendors and eat it along the Bosphorus or while people-watching.

13. Six Senses Kocatas Mansions

North of the city in the Sariyer district, the Six Senses Kocatas Mansions is a hotel spanning two Ottoman-era mansions on the shores of the Bosphorus. It features 45 upscale rooms, a restaurant and bar, and an incredible spa housed in a 100-year-old stone house. While it’s just a short cab ride and some metro stops from the busier parts of Istanbul, Six Senses Kocatas Mansions targets travelers who want a relaxing break from the city. To see a different side of town, grab a cab ride to Emirgan Korusu, the most cherished green space in Istanbul. If you’re here for relaxation, spend some time in the three-story spa and enjoy the Turkish hammam, one of the must-do experiences on your Turkey itinerary!

14. Ecole St Pierre Hotel

Located just beneath the Galata Tower in a building that was once a French primary school is the Ecole St. Pierre Hotel, designed to give guests a multicultural experience. Students at the school were Christian, Jewish, and Muslim, and courses were taught in French and Ottoman Turkish. The hotel keeps its global charm by blending the historical architecture of these various cultures with modern touches. To add to its diverse offerings, all the rooms overlook a charming courtyard where you’ll find an Italian restaurant specializing in pizza (but don’t miss the tiramisu). The hotel is just a few blocks from Galipdede Caddesi, the famous music street in Istanbul. You can wander shops selling musical instruments and hear street performers up and down Galipdede.

15. Mest Hotel 

Along the southern coast of the Golden Horn is the neighborhood of Sirkeci – formerly a rough neighborhood with auto parts and tire stores. The area has been transformed into a modern and central location for tourists. The Mest Hotel is located in the heart of Sirkeci, just a few minutes walk from the famous Spice Bazaar in an area surrounded by impressive mosques. The Suleymaniye Mosque and Rustem Pasha Mosque are just a few blocks away. The guest rooms all feature air conditioning; most have charming touches like exposed magnesite brick.

Bonus: Nice Big Hotels

While these boutique hotels offer charming accommodations, some travelers prefer large hotels, and we’ve found three of the best Istanbul has to offer.

16. Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul 

A perfect hotel for those who have to work while they travel, the Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul features luxury accommodations at a bit quieter pace than the rest of the city. With 65 acres of historic gardens, it’s one of the best hotels to enjoy both the accommodations and the surroundings. Visit the Dolmabahçe Palace, just a few minutes away, to see ultimate luxury – the palace has the most extensive collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world. 

17. Mandarin Oriental

In the seaside neighborhood of Kuruçeşme is the impressive Mandarin Oriental, a modern luxury resort with stunning views, an exquisite Turkish hammam, and world-class restaurants. Take a yacht cruise of the Bosphorus from one of the nearby marinas for an unforgettable experience.

18. Sofitel Istanbul Taksim

Just a two-minute walk from the heart of Taksim Square, a district known for restaurants, shops, and cafes, the Sofitel Istanbul Taksim is a large five-star luxury hotel in a perfect location for exploring the city. Taksim is one of the most accessible places to stay because it’s one of the easiest to travel to and from, on foot, by taxi, or on the metro. You can use it as a base to explore the city, but there’s plenty to see right in Taksim, including tons of restaurants and shopping, all within walking distance. Stop by the nearby Taksim Gezi Park for a refreshing break from the city – it’s one of the few green spaces in the area.

Is Istanbul Safe to Travel To?

As one of the largest cities in the world, safety can be a concern when traveling to Istanbul. While this is understandable, Istanbul is a safe destination for travelers, even women traveling alone. Because it’s a destination for many tourists, the areas most frequently visited are extremely safe. Just use common sense when walking around the city as you would with any other city in the world, and you won’t need to worry.

Additionally, you should know some things before traveling to Turkey, including how to get around. Taxis are known to scam tourists, and using an app like Uber may be a safer bet than trying to negotiate and pay cash for a ride. Also note that English is not widely spoken in Turkey, but that’s OK. I just used Pictionary language to get around. If you’re a picky eater, just learn a few essential Turkish words and phrases before visiting.

The Recent Earthquake – Should I be Worried?

People may also wonder if Turkey is safe to visit due to the recent earthquake. While the quake was devastating, it did not affect Istanbul at all – the damage was hundreds of miles from Istanbul in the Aegean region in southern Turkey. However, this was one of the deadliest natural disasters to hit the country, and the relief efforts are still underway. If you are interested in helping, you can donate to Turkey relief efforts at one of the below organizations.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *