Last updated on September 14th, 2023
Istanbul is a special city. It has a special atmosphere and vibe, a huge amount of sights that can delight anyone, peculiar cafes, and dozens of unusual hotels where to spend a night. In fact, there are so many unique places to stay in Istanbul that often, when walking the streets, it feels like even the walls here tell tales and stories about the glorious times of the Ottoman Empire.
Settling for a couple of days in one of the city’s historic mansions or hotels can become an integral part of a unique experience in Istanbul. Especially considering the fact that prices can meet any budget, anyone can afford to stay in unique accommodation.
If you want to have a noteworthy trip, do not miss my selection of these charming historical hotels that have one thing in common – they promise interesting discoveries and beautiful moments.
This list of hotels, mansions, and guesthouses is my own list that I was working on for more than a year. Not that I was writing it for that long, no. For more than a year I was researching unique Istanbul accommodations and adding every hotel to my own map with the best places to visit and stay in Istanbul. All of these hand-picked hotels are special for many reasons and below I explain why.
Unique Ottoman Mansion-Hotels in Istanbul Sultanahmet Neighborhood
Hotel Ibrahim Pasha – Unique Place to Stay in Istanbul Near the Blue Mosque
One of my favorite small boutique hotels is housed in two 19 century Ottoman mansions on a quiet side street in historic Sultanahmet. Despite the fact that the hotel occupies an old building, it offers you to step into luxury.
The spacious rooms are traditionally decorated with modern furnishings and the interior is a charming blend of Old Istanbul with a modern city. Once you walk in you feel like you are visiting someone’s house rather than a hotel that has gorgeous furnishings, a cozy restaurant, and an open fireplace.
Having an amazing location, Ibrahim Pasha hotel is just 2 minutes walk from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Sultanahmet Square. And the most special part (for me) is its rooftop terrace that offers stunning views of the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome, and a bit of the Bosphorus in a distance.
Overall, nothing here beats the location and the value you get for your money from it.
Celine Hotel – Unusual Ottoman Mansion Near Hagia Sophia
Celine hotel is another stylish boutique hotel located in a restored Ottoman mansion in the historic center of Istanbul. Here you will notice from the first minutes that everything breathes history – old brick walls and mosaics on them, marble interior elements, lovely oak furniture, and marble bathrooms rather reminiscent of hammams.
This hotel looks luxurious and provides a bit of luxury for every guest. Cozy clean rooms with a mixture of Ottoman and Victorian styles and always helpful staff make you feel comfortable and welcoming.
The price is excellent considering the location and the level of service you get. Among all the hotels in the Sultanahmet area, I don’t think you will find anything cheaper with the same or better quality than Celine hotel offers.
Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar, and other Istanbul attractions are all within walking distance.
Darussaade Hotel – Another Unusual Place to Stay in Istanbul Sultanahmet Area
Darussaade Istanbul Hotel is a small hotel located in an old mansion in the very center of Sultanahmet. It has small but fairly well-equipped and clean rooms. The exterior and interior are made in a charming traditional Turkish style and there is an upper terrace with a direct view of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
Breakfasts are served on the restaurant terrace and include traditional Turkish pastries, coffee, and unlimited Turkish tea.
Overall, it is a comfortable, nice, and relatively inexpensive boutique hotel in Sultanahmet.
Marmara Guesthouse – a Perfect Hotel in a Perfect Location For a Low Budget
Marmara guesthouse is that cozy delightful place for people who would love to stay in a real Turkish house in the center of Istanbul without spending much. Being in a safe historic area, this cheap hotel is only a few minutes walk from bustling Sultanahmet and Topkapi palace. But if you want to go outside the tourist route, the tram stop is not far.
What makes it cool and unique?
This accommodation used to be an Ottoman-style home built several centuries ago. But today it welcomes guests offering clean traditional Turkish rooms with character, fresh homemade Turkish breakfasts, attentive and helpful service, and a restaurant on the top floor with a bit of a view of the sea. And a stay here with breakfast costs less than $30 per night in the high season.
The atmosphere here is so homely, thanks to home-like rooms, that you will feel more like being in a homestay than in a hotel. I visited many traditional villages in Turkey and stayed in various traditional guesthouses and can confirm that the rooms in the Marmara guesthouse look very authentic.
Other Cool Places to Stay in Istanbul Sultanahmet Old City
I know there are plenty of hotels in Sultanahmet. I wanted to share some of those that I saved for myself and that I will always recommend to my friends and family who come to visit Istanbul.
However, if you are looking for more unusual options, check these hotels too:
Angel’s Home Hotel – this hotel is located in the same area where the previous two hotels are. It also used to be an Ottoman mansion during Ottoman times. However, today it is a lovely guesthouse for tourists on a budget and it is close to all main attractions and restaurants.
Saruhan Hotel – one more cheap hotel famous for its century-old stone & wood building, pleasant authentic atmosphere, and closeness to the sea. It offers tidy, traditionally furnished rooms with charming little balconies or patios and a large rooftop terrace where delicious breakfasts are served.
Seven Hills Hotel – probably the most famous hotel in Istanbul. You’ll find here stylish luxurious decor, a blend of modern and ancient traditions, a royal level of hospitality, and the rooftop restaurant which is one of the most instagrammable locations in Istanbul.
Unusual Places to Stay in Istanbul’s Other Neighborhoods
The Wings Hotel DeCamondo – Best Mid-Range Accommodation in Style Near Galata
While this unique Istanbul hotel is not really in the building of an old mansion or palace, it still has its own history and story to tell which you can learn once there. It is one of the nicest places where to stay in the Karakoy neighborhood (especially if you are looking to be close to Galata Tower) just because this hotel is simply awesome.
This hotel is like a piece of art. Beautifully designed rooms that include superb breakfast have stylish decorations and are super clean. All facilities are atmospheric and thoughtfully furnished. A beautiful rooftop restaurant where to enjoy enormous breakfast or evening drinks. And on top of everything – the most welcoming and helpful staff.
Also, in this boutique hotel, you are close to everything – to ferries that can bring you to any part of the city, to the tram, Galata bridge, Istiklal street, and lively Karakoy with dozens of cafes and stores.
Pera Palace Historic Hotel – Luxury on a Mid-Range Budget Near Istiklal Street
Pera Palace Hotel is located in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul which before 1925 had the name Pera, not Beyoglu. It was one of the first modern hotels built in the capital of the Ottoman Empire and one of the first buildings in the city (after palaces) that got electricity. This hotel complex boasts a rich history!
It was built in 1895 for wealthy tourists traveling on the Orient Express. And from the first days, Pera Palace was so magnificent that it amazed travelers with pompous luxury. It also housed Istanbul’s first electric elevator, beautifully upholstered in mahogany and handmade Turkish carpets.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, many eminent guests visited the hotel on many occasions. Among them are Ernest Hemingway, Lev Trotsky, Agata Christie, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and many others. Room 101 in the hotel, where the founder of modern Turkey Ataturk stayed, today serves as a museum room. And in room 411 Agatha Christie stayed where she wrote one of her most famous works Murder on the Orient Express.
After a colorful bloom, the complex fell into disrepair but was renovated and opened as a hotel in 2010. Since then Pera Palace Hotel rightfully bears the title of one of the most luxurious hotels in Istanbul. It also has a restaurant with Turkish, Italian, and French cuisines, a gym, a wonderful spa center, and a gorgeous swimming pool. A lot of rooms offer just a fabulous view of the Golden Horn Bay and the ancient streets of Beyoglu (Pera)
Palazzo Donizetti Hotel – Budget Accommodation Near Istiklal Street
Palazzo Donizetti Hotel is just one minute walk from the Pera Palace hotel mentioned above. But it is much cheaper and is an alternative for budget travelers who think to stay in the same area.
Palazzo Donizetti also has a history behind its walls, yet on a bit smaller scale. Handcrafted furniture in all rooms, Italian marble on floors, unique frescoes on the walls, and stained glass windows tell a story. Oh, and its old elevator attracts many visitors who often come here just to ride in it.
And its location is close to the Galata Tower and within walking distance from Taksim and Istiklal street. The price is one of the lowest for that area and the service is slightly above the average. But here you get a beautiful historic clean room in a fantastic location at a good rate.
On the rooftop of the hotel, there is a recreation area and a restaurant with live music, from where a beautiful panoramic view of Istanbul opens up.
Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus – Palace By the Bosphorus
Being in the Besiktas area near the Dolmabahce Palace, Four Seasons hotel is housed in a renovated 19th-century Turkish palace. There, you’ll find a combination of historical architecture with luxury and technological progress.
The hotel’s restaurants serve Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine. Its spa complex, swimming pool, and Turkish bath allow guests to relax completely. The rooms have a view of the Bosphorus, and the complex itself is a four-minute walk from one of the central places of Istanbul – Besiktas Square.
Sumahan On the Water – Stay in a Luxurious Distillery on the Asian Side
Yes, that’s right. Sumahan on the water hotel is another unique hotel in Istanbul, located in the building of the former distillery. Originally built in the 19th century, Sumahan distillery was a place of ‘suma’ preparation – a base for a Turkish vodka raki made from fig tree fruits.
Nowadays, it is a gorgeous hotel in the Asian part of Istanbul, right on the shore of the Bosphorus spill and five minutes walk from the Cengelkoy ferry terminal from where you can travel to the European side. Although guests of this property have free transfers on private boats, so there will be no need to use public ferries.
Hayriye Hanim Konagi (HHK) Hotel – Unique Budget Hotel With the View in Eminonu
An absolutely wonderful budget hotel in Istanbul located in an old Ottoman mansion near Eminonu and the Golden Horn. Since it is located in the historic district, it is easy to walk from there to many sites, visit cute and old Balat neighborhood, and take a ferry to the Asian side or one of the Princess Islands.
The only downside is the hotel stands on the hill and it can be difficult for some people to reach it on foot. If you are one of them, you’d need to take a cab to get in and out of the hotel. Also, it is in the area next to the famous Istanbul bazaar, so some streets can seem to be hectic and dirty.
The real pride of this unique property is a rather large terrace with an open view of the Golden Horn. It is very authentic and Istanbul-style accommodation, without too much hotel chic. There is also a small pool where you can swim with a magnificent view of the city.
TIP: If you stay in this hotel, don’t miss a nearby Seyr-i Golden Horn cafe with good food and more gorgeous views of Istanbul.
Here are some helpful resources and posts that will help you organize your trip to Istanbul:
- For affordable flights to Turkey, I always compare prices on Kiwi.com with prices on Turkish Airlines and Pegasus (a low-cost Turkish airline)
- i-Visa website – a great resource for checking if you need a tourist visa for Turkey. And if you do, it will explain how to apply for an expedited visa online
- For a private transfer from the airport in any city, Mark and I use HolidayTaxis
- Istanbul airport transfer guide on how to get from all airports by public transport to any part of the city
- Istanbul museum pass review – do you really need it and is it worth the money?
- The best hotel deals are often on Trip.com, Hotels.com. Also, don’t miss my post about the cheapest airbnbs in Istanbul
- Find the best city tours and day excursions in Istanbul
- Find the best cooking classes and the best food tours in Istanbul
- For posts about other destinations in Turkey, check my Turkey travel blog page
- And here are all most posts about Istanbul
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