November 21, 2012

Where to stay in Istanbul

Tom Tom Suites is a quiet, boutique hotel with just 20 suites is set in a 100-year old former Franciscan nunnery and school in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul, opposite the Italian embassy and a private Italian school for expats.

Tom Tom Suites Istanbul

The entrance to our 20-room hotel

It oozes style and is a peaceful haven away from the chaotic scenes of the day haggling at the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market.

Tom Tom Suites lobby

I did want to bring this huge painting home!

Step into the lobby which is as high as the building itself – four floors – and the art on the walls sets the tone. The brightly painted scenes of the city have an almost street art or graffiti feel about them and coloured glass disks make an intriguing sculpture.

The reception area is manned 24 hours and the staff are incredibly helpful. They also speak English and nothing is a problem, including storing our luggage when we arrived at 9am and sending us upstairs to their rooftop for a complimentary breakfast.

Tom Tom suites

Our room looking towards the lounge

And the views from up here are fantastic, looking over the Bosphorus all the way to Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque down at Sultanahmet. Magic at night when the city lights highlight its best features. It has an open deck and the breakfast is a simple buffet with fresh pastries, cereals and a changing selection of hot food.

Our twin room was so spacious it was like a little apartment. We loved the Nespresso machine and our kettle came in handy for making plenty of cups of Turkish apple or pomegranate tea, with a fridge for a bottle of wine if we found ourselves back in our room by happy hour!

Fresh green apples and water were replenished daily and the marble bathroom was about as big as another bedroom with Molten Brown products.

 

Sunrise from the Tom Tom Suites

Sunrise from the restaurant on the top floor

Nearby

Tom Tom Suites is across the Galata Bridge, three stops on the Metro from Tophane to Yeni Mosque and the Spice Market – or a 15 minute walk. It’s also very close to the cruise port and that is why I am here. But having arrived three days early to experience Istanbul, I spent time down at Sultanahmet with the hundreds of thousands of other tourists, (read my Top 5 things to do in Istanbul here >>>) and also got to explore the neighbourhood around me, discovering hidden gems that I’m glad I didn’t miss.

Dining

Eating in Istanbul

Little eat streets like this are all over Istanbul

We stumbled upon the cutest street, called Cezayir, packed with restaurants, some with rooftop balconies for Bosphorus views, others with outdoor tables lining both sides of this street of steps just off Bostanbasi Cd. The menus have photos and waiters are only too keen to invite you in. The food is cheap and cheerful, but perfect if you want a no frills bite with the locals.

The 2nd best hamam in Istanbul

It may not sound like a great trophy, but all the guide books recommend the hamam down at Aya Sofia as the best (and most expensive), and Galatasaray hamami as the next choice. As luck would have it, Tom Tom Suites is a (steep) 5 minute stroll up the hill. I have to say, my first Turkish bath experience was a culture shock and if you really want to know what happened, here’s my hamam post >>>

Shopping

Shopping

The pedestrianised mall up the hill

Get your walking shoes on and puff your way up Yeni Carsi Cd from the end of the street. At the top you’ll find a long pedestrianised street with lots of shops from international brands to local boutiques, restaurants and little side streets selling Turkish souvenirs, fish mongers and more places for a cup of apple tea.

Tom Tom Suites pride themselves on their “younique” service and indeed they excel at making every guest feel valued. I can totally recommend!

Click here for the website for more details >>>

About Megan Singleton

Megan

Megan Singleton is a travel writer, blogger and radio correspondent. She's been gallivanting around the world telling stories for the last 16 years and has her suitcase always half packed (or half un-packed!) Follow along on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for monthly newsletters if you want to keep up with the journey!

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