on March 7, 2013
I recently went to Istanbul on a mini-break organised by a multi-activity group that I am a member of. The hotel was included in my three night deal along with flights and transfers. However according to the board behind the reception a standard double room is approx TL150 (Turkish Lira), which is about £57.LOCATIONThe hotel is located on Harikzedeler Street on the corner of a quiet junction in the Bazaar district and a few minutes walk from Istanbul University. The streets are mostly hotels, restaurants and a few little shops. It is a few minutes walk to the Laleli tram stop on the T1 line, ten minutes walk to the Grand Bazaar and 20 minutes to Sultanhmet and the main attractions like the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia.FIRST IMPRESSIONS/COMMUNAL AREASThe reception area has some nice seating around some tables on either side, and you go down a few steps to the desk (there is a ramp) and there is a small bar area at the back. There is a computer for public use in the lobby. The bar only has a few tables and is quite small. They do the usual drinks, plus hot drinks and some cocktails. The latter are about TL20 which is quite typical. However the cocktail maker staff member isn’t always on duty and by the second night they had run out of tequila for our margaritas. The hotel appears to be in two parts as there is a lift by the bar and two other lifts on the other side of reception. I was in this part, on the third floor. There is a mezzanine restaurant level but we never saw it in use. There is a pool and sauna on the top floor, but the outside pool was closed during the winter months. The hotel can also arrange airport transfers for you for a charge. THE ROOMOur room was a twin and was furnished in a contemporary style but fairly minimal. The beige spotty carpet and curtains and walls were light coloured. The bed was made with a sheet and blanket folded on top (rather than tucked under the mattress). There was a bedspread draped along the bottom, but it was not full size. There was one bedside table between the beds, but we each had an overhead light (not the brightest light). Alongside this was a built in wardrobe the hangers up high and a safe as well as a cupboard. Our safe didn’t work – the bolts were ‘stuck’ out and no amount of resets and power button pushing made a difference. I reported it to reception but no one came to fix it. There was a small flat screen TV and I found BBC World News on it. I didn’t spot any other English language channels, but one of my friends did in another room. There was a small desk with tea and coffee facilities (one tea and one coffee per person per day – they were very clear on this) and a complimentary bottle of water (first day only). There was also a mini-bar. However apart from the tiny bedside table, the desk was the only surface in the room. As half of that is taken up with the kettle, it left very little space to keep combs/make-up etc. There was one spare plug socket by the bedside table which we alternated to charge our phones, the only other was if we unplugged the kettle. The room had an air-conditioner/heater in it and we were rarely cold, even though it was early March. Either side on the TV, there were two long mirrors. It made the room look large but with no surfaces it was a frustrating wander around the room (and each other) to put our make up on in the mornings.The bathroom also was devoid of surfaces. I kept my wash bag on the floor by the sink. The modern sink was clean and square, with a tiny space either side of the mixer tap for soap or a small pot of moisturiser or face wash. The large shower was great, and quite powerful, and the best thing about this bathroom.I slept fairly well, although it seemed odd to sleep under a sheet and a blanket when you are used to a duvet, I felt I wasn’t covered up enough, however I wasn’t cold. The bed was quite hard and some of my friends struggled with it, but I slept well. The pillow was small and too soft. There were no spares in the room and I kept forgetting to ask at reception. Our room was quiet as we overlooked a courtyard with a weird cloud patterned ‘light’ above it (they turned it on about 7.15 am), but those in our party who had rooms at the front, were disturbed by the traffic at times which surprised me as it did not seem to be a busy street. BREAKFASTBreakfast is served buffet style in the basement. You seat yourself and fetch everything yourself including teas or coffee. They have four juices available (TL7 extra if you want freshly squeezed), as well as a range of teas. They often had different pastries and savouries, as well as a salad bar, 10 different cheeses, some odd looking cold meats and a limited hot selection (e.g. eggs, chips, borek (cheese filled pastries), frankfurters and mushrooms) which changed daily. I was fond of the feta type chesses with either harissa or onion seeds garnished on them. They also had different breads, cereals, fruits and yoghurts. I was very impressed with the buffet and the range of fresh ingredients. I often had two courses: a cereal followed by a roll with cheese and salad, and perhaps some chips. OVERALLAlthough I had a few niggles with the room, overall I really liked the hotel. The service we received and the buffet breakfast were excellent. The location is also very good for those who are happy to take a short tram hop or a short walk. If I returned to Istanbul, I will certainly consider a stay here.
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