Advantages 3* Hotel in a 5* location
Disadvantages Noisy rooms.
|Value for Money|
|Quality of Rooms|
|Standard of Service|
|Quality of Food & Drink|
|Quality of Facilities|
The hotel advertises its roof terrace as the sort of restaurant under the stars of everyone's dreams. I thought it was jaded and thus overrated with a distant view of the sea which was hardly on the waterfront.The rooms are OK. I had a de-luxe room which had been reduced on-line from an advertised price of Euros 134 to Euros 75.The TV had CNN and BBC World and the bed was very comfortable. I found the decor a bit drab. A buffet breakfast on the roof was fine but the service was non-existent. Didn't really matter though - the stuff was all there, I helped myself and left.
When I first arrived at the Obelisk, it was a Saturday afternoon and the whole reception area was undergoing major renovation work. The banging and knocking down of walls did actually stop at 7pm and didn't start until 1100 Sunday morning.The en-suite bathroom had a shower, and it was all very clean and comfortable, with a good strong supply of hot water.
I had read elsewhere that the walls are thin and the noise from adjoining rooms is very distinct. I found that to be true, the lady in the room next to me was having a phone converation from 6.30pm until I went out at 8pm - if I had spoken Turkish, I could have picked up every word.Nevertheless for the price, and the location I would happily stay there again - it was just so convenient..
Having arrived in Istanbul by car (the worst car journey I have ever endured but that is another story) I had to leave by plane. I went in to a local youth hostel which was advertising airport shuttle buses. It cost me roughly £5 for the half-hour ride; the coach turned up at my hotel at the stated time and was very comfortable and reliable.My brief is really to discuss the hotel, not to enter into a description of Istanbul. However the attractions of a hotel are what they offer outside as well as inside, and that is really where this hotel can score good points, along with all the many other hotels in the area .
Well the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia museum are two major attractions which are only four minutes walk up the road through a pretty part of town.The Topkapi museum is only a couple of minutes further.The on-line website shows the hotel building almost in isolation, as an old converted Ottaman house, which it is. However the photo cunningly conceals the fact that it is surrounded by other hotels, two directly adjacent and all up and down the road, all of the same period, and all prettily redecorated.
It is not for me to judge the others, most of which are smaller, and some certainly cheaper, but all very attractive from the outside.The most attractive hotel in this immediate area appeared to be the Four Seasons, but here you're talking big money.Finally I want to mention the most useful discovery - the local tramway system - signposted and understood locally to be "tramvay"
My using the tramvay, you can really get around Istanbul very cheaply and with no hassle. The ride from Obelisk Square down to the waterside is really sceneful in smart modern 4 coach trains, and takes three stops.The nearest tram stop is a 5-6 minute walk from this hotel. Each station is located usually in the middle of the road surrounded by a security rail. You pay YTL1.30 ( about 55p) at an adjoining kiosk for a "jeton" The jeton will get you through the turnstile and once inside you can tram around all day until you take another turnstile to get out.
The journey down to the water's edge and the Galata Bridge is very scenic and passes the outer stone walls of the huge Topkapi museum . The Galata Bridge effectively divides what is called the Golden Horn from the Bosphorous and is the arrival and departure point for most of the ferries and tourist boat trips.Taking the tram the other way brings you within a short walking distance of the Kapilicarsi or Grand Bazaar. which I didn't have time to see but had some good write ups.
To me, Istanbul is a place that would keep me interested for 5 days, no more. What you see in the old city and from a cruise boat is top rate and full of a unique oriental mysticism. However Istanbul has expanded enormously in the past few years. The traffic is the worst I have seen anywhere in the world; once you are outside the tourist areas you are in one of the ugliest urban wastelands I have ever seen in my life and it stretches for 50-100 kms in all direction, with huge, mammoth factories and eyesore waste disposal. Fly tipping is the norm in Turkey. If you've got it - chuck it on the side of the road like everyone else.Finally I suppose I should mention the food. Turkish food, done properly, is delicious, there can be no doubt about it. I wasn't there long enough to find a really good restuaurant although the whole area surrounding the hotel is scattered with possible contenders.
I was ripped off once for an expresso and chicken salad, close to the Blue Mosque. The uninspired salad cost me 7 Turkish Lira and the tiny coffee was a further 6 lira. Well we are in Larry and Wilma land here so rip-offs can be expected. However I did find a little fish restaurant just 50m up from the Obelisk called the Akbiyik Fish Restaurant where the staff were super fun and super friendly, and if you're in the mood as I was, even on my own, we all had a great evening and I was invited back for a free lunch the following day before I left.!! The food wasn't stunning but the atmosphere, which admittedly just sort of developed from nothing, was outstanding!!!,
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