It’s not surprising that exotic Istanbul, Europe’s largest city, is home to many deluxe hotels.
We’ve bedded down in many of the best places to stay in Istanbul – including the storied Ciragan Palace as well as the Ritz-Carlton Istanbul. (See our hotel reviews of these two luxury Istanbul hotels at the end of our post on the best Istanbul hammams.)
But we’ve also bedded down at several beautiful boutique hotels in Istanbul.
When you’re planning your Turkey itinerary, you’ll want to check out Istanbul’s boutique hotels – here’s our curated list of the top 15.
Best boutique hotels in Istanbul
Tucked away in character-filled residential or embassy neighborhoods, the following boutique places to stay in Istanbul offer a more intimate stay in a city which – with a population of 15+ million – can sometimes feel overwhelming.
1) Sumahan on the Water
Take the mahogany water taxi across the Bosphorus Canal to this boutique 5-star hotel in Istanbul, and you leave the cacophony of the city for another world.
The hotel’s complimentary boat service transports you in 30 minutes from Istanbul’s cosmopolitan European side, past ancient palaces and mosques, to the less-touristy Asian side.
After sightseeing all day, you feel the fatigue melt away as you step ashore into the calm oasis that is Sumahan on the Water.
The architect owners transformed what was once a 19th century Ottoman distillery into the present-day hotel in 2005.
They preserved details of the building’s historical past – like black painted metal girders and exposed brick walls – adding an industrial edge to the hotel’s design.
Book lovers will appreciate the hotels’ cozy water-view library, well-stocked with 800+ books on Turkish subjects, most in English.
A Turkish hammam offers traditional bath-and-massage treatments too.
Another plus: The hotel is expertly run and service is warm.
The hotel has 13 rooms, all of which face the Bosphorus.
In summer, guests sit out under the trees on the lawn and read or watch the boat traffic along the Bosphorus.
In winter, a fireplace in your room makes it cozy for enjoying the ever-changing watery panorama.
We loved our two-storey loft suite.
Upstairs was a king-size bed and huge grey-and-white marble bathroom with walk-in shower.
Downstairs, French doors opened from the ground-floor living room onto the hotel’s lawn and garden.
For breakfast (included in the rate), the terrace is open in warm weather – you can linger over cappuccino while eyeing ferries and tankers glide by.
For dinner, Sumahan’s Waterfront restaurant features fresh fish, along with Turkish food like mezes and an international à la carte menu.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more romantic restaurant in Istanbul if dining alfresco.
2) Tomtom Suites
Fancy a stay in a former Franciscan nunnery?
The mod Tomtom Suites fits the bill.
Don’t be misled by the odd name, which is based on the hotel’s street name. Tomtom Suites is one of the best boutique hotels in Istanbul.
Once home to French nuns, the restored hotel building is a mix of the historic (polished hardwood floors, high ceilings and thick stone walls) and contemporary (sound-proofing, high-tech lighting, Bose sound systems).
Service is exceptional.
The first time we stayed here, the front desk staff went out of their way to help us discover Istanbul on our own. (We wanted help catching the Istanbul Tram, located a few blocks away, that runs to the old Sultanahmet district and tourist sites.)
Rooms and suites
There are 20 rooms and suites spread out in two buildings, connected by glass floor walkways and reached by a glass elevator.
Choose from garden or courtyard views; several room categories range from “standard” to “luxury suite.”
Light, bright and spacious, they feature marble bathrooms, handmade rugs, and colorful original ceramics and works of art.
The rooms also have king-size beds, which we North Americans are used to, but which can sometimes be hard to find in Turkey, where smaller European-size beds are more common.
Tomtom also delivers excellent value for the price.
A member of Small Luxury Hotels, it’s a 5-star Istanbul hotel. But you pay significantly less for a room at Tomtom than at other 5-star hotels in Istanbul (like the Four Seasons at Sultanahmet, #8 below).
This was one reason we chose to stay here for a second time when visiting Istanbul at the start of our recent Turkey/Greece Windstar cruise on the Star Pride.
It serves artistically prepared Mediterranean cuisine inspired by fresh local ingredients. You have a choice of four multi-course set menus, which change every few weeks.
The terrace has city views of the Bosphorus Canal and minaret-guarded mosques.
It’s a beautiful spot to sit on warm summer evenings!
Ditto for breakfast.
Think an amazing Turkish spread with over 15 little plates of hummus, sliced meat, cheese, smoked salmon on toast, yogurt, fruit, mini-muffins and more – plus cooked-to-order eggs.
The hotel isn’t within walking distance of the historic Sultanahmet district. But it’s only a short tram ride away.
3) Six Senses Kocatas Mansions
“History meets hospitality where East meets West” – such is the claim on the Six Senses Kocatas Mansions’ website.
Its mansions were built in the 1800s in Istanbul’s northernmost neighborhood on the European side.
Offering extraordinary views right over the Bosphorus Strait and with seven restaurants, a pool and a spa, it’s the perfect hotel if you’re looking for a resort-style stay.
To explore Istanbul’s attractions, the hotel has a private boat for transfers on the Bosphorus to the center of the city.
Spread out over two mansions, the historic hotel encompasses 43 guest rooms, taking inspiration from the bygone days of the Ottoman Era.
While there are plenty of period features, all have modern amenities like a smart TV and espresso machine.
With seven dining and drinking establishments, including a coffee lounge, a patisserie, a traditional Italian restaurant (Scalini Istanbul) and the Toro Latin Gastro Bar, you know you’ll eat well at Six Senses Kocatas Mansions.
Pool and spa
You’ll find five treatment rooms and a hammam at the spa here.
If you’re visiting in the summertime and fancy relaxing alfresco, chill out around the gorgeous swimming pool with views right over the Bosphorus.
The hotel is located in the prestigious Sariyer district of European Istanbul (known for its excellent seafood restaurants). It’s about a 1-hour private water taxi ride on the Bosphorus Canal to reach the heart of the city.
As we’ve stayed at a Six Senses hotel before (in Thailand) – and love the brand – we seriously considered staying here on our last visit to Istanbul. But we ultimately settled on returning to the Tomtom Suites (#2 above), as we wanted to be closer to everything.
4) Pera Palace Hotel
Quick! Where did Agatha Christie write “Murder on the Orient Express”?
Room 411 in the opulent Pera Palace Hotel, so it’s believed.
Book this storied hotel and you follow in the footsteps of Christie and other celebrities and royalty, including King Edward VIII, Mata Hari, Emperor Franz Joseph, Alfred Hitchcock, Greta Garbo and Ernest Hemingway, all of whom have been welcomed here.
Several rooms are even named after some of them.
It’s easy to see why Pera Palace is consistently regarded as one of the best hotels in Istanbul!
Built in 1892 for passengers journeying on the Orient Express train from Venice to Istanbul, the Pera Palace was extensively restored and re-opened in 2010 after a two-year closure.
Riding in the old-fashioned wrought iron elevator is a delightful experience!
British writer Daniel Farson waxed lyrical about it, saying: “It is the most beautiful elevator in the world. It ascends like a lady who curtsies. Tourists cannot take their eyes off this utterly pretty and aristocratic elevator.”
You can also see the velvet sedan chair once used to carry guests from the Orient Express train station to the hotel.
Indeed, Pera Palace is somewhat of a museum-hotel.
Room 101 – open to visitors – displays clothing, furniture, eye glasses, china tea cups, letter openers and other personal items belonging to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the beloved “Father of Turkey.”
For purists, the hotel may not qualify as a “real” boutique hotel because of its size – it has 115 rooms, including 16 suites.
But the hotel feels smaller than other “grand” hotels, and because we liked it, we’ve included it here in our round-up of “Istanbul boutique hotels.”
All rooms feature historical furniture, Murano chandeliers and hand-woven Turkish carpets. White marble bathrooms have claw-foot tubs.
Tip: Book the “Golden Horn” view rooms which come with a Juliette balcony.
Check out the pretty pink French-style patisserie serving handmade chocolates and French cakes.
Guests also love the English afternoon tea served in the Kubbeli Lounge. Think nibbling on crustless tea sandwiches and scones while listening to soft live piano music.
We were less impressed with the lower-level Agatha Restaurant, however.
It wasn’t very busy when we had dinner, and we would have preferred a more lively atmosphere.
This admittedly likely influenced our view of the dining experience.
5) A’jia Hotel
How would you like to lay your head down in what was once the grand mansion of a Pasha?
A’jia Hotel has maintained its historic Ottoman-era outside.
But inside, it’s a different story.
This Istanbul design hotel has 16 spacious and modern rooms and suites, with dreamy bathrooms all done up in creamy marble and tile.
Fancy an extra treat? Stay in the Mezzanine Deluxe Suite, with incredible views over the Bosphorus and a roll-top bathtub right in the bedroom.
When you want to relax and soak up the water views, a long bar on the waterfront terrace is the perfect place to do just that.
6) Romance Istanbul Hotel
Okay, so the above boutique luxury hotels in Istanbul all look wonderful.
But what you really want to know is where to stay in Istanbul that’s right in the thick of the historic quarter – somewhere just a short walk away from the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar.
Enter Romance Istanbul Hotel – it’s smack-dab in the historical center.
And no surprise here… As its name suggests, it’s one of the most romantic hotels in Istanbul, according to guests who’ve stayed here. (See TripAdvisor reviews.)
Think 40 rooms with wooden floors, Turkish rugs, satin and velvet furnishings, chandeliers and French balconies.
Some have terraces, or you could even opt for the Royal Suite with a jacuzzi.
7) Hagia Sofia Mansions
Forget boutique hotels. How about a boutique house?
At Hagia Sofia Mansions, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, one could be yours – well, for the duration of your vacation, at least!
The hotel’s rooms are all suites with their own individual entrances leading to the narrow tree-lined street outside.
Inside, sumptuous décor and world-class hospitality are there to welcome you – you’ll quickly see why it’s one of the best 5-star hotels in Istanbul near the Blue Mosque and other historic sites.
The hotel has 78 rooms and suites to suit your specific needs.
Traveling with family? Opt for the family connecting room. Need level access? Accessible rooms are available.
Rooms boast features like a walk-in shower, Turkish bath, sumptuously comfy king bed with high-quality linen and an HDTV.
Dining-wise, choose between the Green House Garden Restaurant or the Guest House Terrace Restaurant.
The open-air Green House Garden Restaurant boasts a fountain, lush plants and green décor, offering a slice of nature in the heart of the city. Enjoy an aperitif or smaller meal here – and you can try shisha at the end of the night!
The Guest House Terrace Restaurant, adorned in Ottoman décor, looks out over the Hagia Sophia and serves à la carte breakfast, lunches and dinners.
Descend underground to the spa, where you can enjoy a traditional Turkish Hammam experience.
It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind after a busy day of sightseeing.
As the name suggests, this hotel is in a prime location to enjoy Istanbul’s most iconic sights.
8) Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet
For luxury, you can never go wrong staying at a Four Seasons property.
There are two of these deluxe hotels in Istanbul. But for a boutique stay, the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet – housed in a former prison built by the Ottomans in 1918 – is the one you want.
It reopened in 2022 after an extensive 2-year renovation. Providing a true 5-star experience in the heart of the city, it’s widely regarded as the best hotel in Sultanahmet, thanks to its range of amenities, stellar service and peaceful setting.
A total of 65 rooms are on offer here, some with views of the resort’s lush central courtyard.
All have chic designs with tasteful Ottoman period art and comfortable furniture, along with plush beds that’ll feel like a cloud after you’ve spent all day exploring Istanbul.
Of course, the bathrooms are nothing but opulent, with marble furnishings and state-of-the-art technology.
In total, there are five dining options at this Four Seasons Hotel, including in-room dining.
Feast on modern Anatolian cuisine at Avlu Restaurant or sample modern mezzes at Lingo Lingo Bar and Restaurant.
Or grab a sweet Turkish delicacy at La Pistach Patisserie. Or take in views of the looming Hagia Sophia as you dine on Turkish and international fare at Sureyya Teras Lounge.
The hotel’s refurbishment included a deluxe new spa. You can book a couple’s hammam treatment or enjoy a range of massages and facials – ideal for shaking off jet lag after a long flight.
9) AJWA Sultanahmet
Offering top-notch hospitality in a dreamy setting, AJWA Sultanahmet knows exactly how to impress their guests.
With locations in Istanbul and Cappadocia, the hotel merges Ottoman and Seljuk design to create the ultimate high-end hotel experience.
If you’re looking for luxury hotels in Istanbul with a distinct historic Turkish sense of place, AJWA will likely tick all your boxes.
Think authentic silk Tabriz carpets, four-poster beds, lavish wallpaper, mother-of-pearl furniture and flower arrangements everywhere you look.
It also has a hammam.
The hotel aims to emulate a private mansion, giving guests an exclusive, intimate experience.
Choose from a deluxe room, family suite, corner room or Sultan suite, all boasting antique furniture, underfloor heating systems (ideal for chilly winter days!) and a pillow menu, among other amenities.
Note: This hotel only has rooms with double or twin beds – no king-size beds.
The dining scene centers around the top-rated Zeferan Restaurant, a fine dining restaurant serving primarily Azerbaijani cuisine, with panoramic views of the sparkling old town. There’s also a patisserie.
10) The Bank Hotel Istanbul
In the hip and burgeoning neighborhood of Karakoy, separated from Sultanahmet by the Golden Horn, you’ll find The Bank Hotel Istanbul.
A member of Design Hotels, a collection of boutique and design-driven luxury hotels around the world, it’s one of the most unique hotels in Istanbul.
Located on fabled Banks Street – once the financial center of the Ottoman Empire – the Bank Hotel Istanbul is housed in a former bank.
The original vault serves as the wine cellar, and in the bar, a former safe is now a drinks cabinet.
The hotel also retains other eclectic architectural features from the 19th century, when the building was constructed.
While on the smallish side, the hotel’s seven types of rooms and suites pack a punch when it comes to luxury.
If you can swing it, go for the penthouse suite with a roll-top bathtub and the most unbelievable views of Istanbul.
But all rooms boast blackout curtains, LCD TVs, goose feather blankets, luxury bathrobes and a coffee machine. Carrera marble bathrooms have rain showers.
Serica Restaurant specializes in “soil to plate” food, with inspiration from Turkey’s diverse landscapes.
There’s also a lobby bar and restaurant and the Bank Roof Bar for more casual dining.
Open by appointment, the hotel’s spa has a Turkish hammam, steam room, sauna, treatment rooms and fitness center.
The Bank Hotel may be across the Golden Horn from Sultanahmet, but Sultanahmet is easy to access by foot, car or metro.
Also, we love the less-touristy neighborhood of Karakoy, in which it’s located. On our most recent Istanbul sojourn, we had lots of fun strolling along Karakoy’s cobblestone streets, past dusty antique shops, buzzing cafés and contemporary galleries.
11) Boutique Saint Sophia Sultanahmet
If small, intimate, affordable and a close-to-everything location is your style, consider Boutique Saint Sophia, one of the best 4-star hotels in Istanbul.
With just 26 rooms, this establishment offers a bespoke experience that you’ll only find in the small hotels in Istanbul.
While set in a 19th century building, room at the Boutique Saint Sophia Hotel are modern, with amenities like a Tchibo coffee machine, pillow menu, rain shower and free minibar.
In the Pita Lounge, feast on a traditional Turkish breakfast; cheese, bread, spreads, eggs, pancakes and baked goods. You can even wash it down with a champagne cocktail!
You couldn’t get more central than Boutique Saint Sophia Sultanahmet.
It basically rubs shoulder with the Hagia Sophia.
It’s so close to the Hagia Sophia that you can hear the early morning call-to-prayer (bring earplugs).
The hotel also overlooks Sultan Ahmet Park and is only a 5-minute walk to the Topkapi Palace Museum complex.
Boutique Saint Sophia Sultanahmet: Check rates and availability
12) Hotel Sultania
Overlooking Gulhane Park, Hotel Sultania is another great boutique 4-star hotel in Istanbul.
It’s every bit as regal as its name suggests.
Every detail, from the complimentary Turkish delight at check-in to the plush bedroom furnishings, is fit for a sultan or sultana.
And with tasteful period décor and Istanbul’s best historical attractions just a stone’s throw away, you’ll feel as if you’re walking through history as soon as you step into this hotel.
Choose between a family suite room, the Harem Suite room and a Sultan Suite room. All come with a tea and coffee maker, ultra-comfy king-size bed and artwork on the walls.
The Sultan Suite room – the most luxurious of the lot – is modeled after a bedroom in an Ottoman Palace. You’ll quite literally feel like a king or queen when staying here.
Hotel Sultania may be historic, but the menus of its two eating establishments effortlessly fuse traditional Turkish cooking with modern flavors and preferences.
Sultania Restaurant, which is on the ground floor and has an outdoor area, is ideal for sandwiches or light bites. The Anatolian Olive Restaurant enjoys an incredible view of the city from its floor-to-ceiling windows and offers European and Middle Eastern dishes.
It’s not just about history at Hotel Sultania. There’s also an impressive spa with a hammam, sauna, fitness center and treatment rooms.
13) Witt Istanbul Suites
If you fancy staying out of the hustle and bustle (but still close-in and with easy access to everything), consider the highly-rated Witt Istanbul Suites.
Reflecting a retro-modern design, with lots of space-age-looking leather and wood touches, it’s definitely one of the coolest hotels in Istanbul! Like The Bank Hotel Istanbul (#10 above), it’s a member of Design Hotels.
Step into your home away from home at Witt Istanbul Suites.
Accommodations comprise 17 suites with kitchenettes (with a microwave, fridge and Nespresso machine).
The suites all have soundproof walls and floors.
They’re kitted out with rocking chairs, safe boxes large enough for your laptop and well-appointed gray marble bathrooms with six(!) rain showerheads.
Because each suite is like a mini-apartment, the hotel is ideal for longer stays or if you want a residential-style hotel experience.
Turkish breakfast is served daily – think cheese, bread, a range of egg dishes, olives, handmade jams, honey from Bodrum and the like. You can either enjoy it in your room or in the lobby.
As for other meals, there are some food preparation facilities in select rooms, and you can also order takeout from neighboring restaurants.
Enjoy the city views from your deck or wander on up to the hotel’s rooftop garden to read your book and relax among the edible herbs and flowers.
For something off-the-beaten track, Witt Istanbul Suites is perfect.
It’s located in the Cihangir neighborhood, known for its street art and quirky cafes.
It’s just a short walk to Taksim (the more modern part of Istanbul) and Istiklal Avenue. To reach Sultanahmet, it’s an easy metro or taxi ride.
14) Hotel Ibrahim Pasha
Are there lovely small boutique hotels in Istanbul in the 3-star category? Of course! Say hello to the Hotel Ibrahim Pasha.
It’s named after Suleiman the Magnificent’s Grand Vizier, Ibrahim Pasha, who lived in the 16th-century Ottoman palace next door.
This 3-star Istanbul hotel commemorates Turkish history throughout its boutique lobby and rooms.
At the same time, while the hotel may be named after an Ottoman hero, it offers contemporary facilities, including a well-stocked library, airport pick-up service and a gorgeous rooftop terrace exclusively for guests, with jaw-droppingly beautiful views of the city.
Standard rooms are on the smaller side.
But even they are something to write home about. They feature velvet chairs, queen-size beds with fresh linens and plush pillows, rain showers and under-floor heating.
There are also larger deluxe rooms with two single beds or a queen bed (no king beds).
You couldn’t get closer to the Blue Mosque if you tried – you’re so close that you could almost touch it. To be more precise, a two-minute walk takes you right to the door, with the Hagia Sophia just a few steps further.
The Hotel Ibrahim Pasha is definitely one of the best Istanbul hotels for enjoying the attractions of the old city!
15) Orientbank Hotel Istanbul
Taking its inspiration from Istanbul’s position at the crossroads of east and west, the building housing the Orientbank Hotel Istanbul was constructed in 1912 by August Jasmund, a Prussian architect, as the German Orientbank.
In 2021, it was extensively refurbished.
Today, it’s one of the top hotels in Istanbul, welcoming travelers to a lesser-explored part of Istanbul.
Guests are looked after by All Butler Touch, a concierge service which you can access by WhatsApp.
Rooms have a modern design, with mood lighting and coffee machines, but still retain some period features – serving as a reminder that you’re in one of the world’s most historic cities!
Beds are renowned for their comfort, and a pillow menu means you’ll have just the right amount of head support. Some rooms include a sitting area, ideal for planning out your day over a cup of Turkish coffee on the hotel’s free WiFi.
The Lobby Lounge restaurant offers an à la carte signature breakfast, incorporating classic Turkish dishes with international foods.
There’s also a live jazz club with food and drinks in the evenings.
This 5-star hotel in Istanbul isn’t as close to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia as others on this list – it’s in the Sirkeci area which neighbors Sultanahmet.
That wraps up our guide to the top boutique hotels in Istanbul
Whether you fancy a high-end, 5-star hotel with a spa and a range of restaurants or more intimate and affordable accommodation, there are plenty of boutique places to stay in Istanbul.
In fact, some of them are among the best hotels in Turkey.
Whichever of these boutique and small Istanbul hotels you choose, you can be assured of top-notch facilities and well-furnished guest rooms. These unique boutique hotels will show you exactly why Turkey is so famous for its hospitality!
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Photo credits: 3, 13, 30 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Remaining images courtesy of the respective hotels (except 1 and 57)
Sumahan on the Water and Pera Palace provided us with complimentary media stays for review purposes. But as professional travel writers (who write for many magazines and newspapers as well as this blog), we always retain complete editorial control over our words.