istanbul: a stay at the sultanahmet

A stay at the Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet is truly a once in a lifetime experience. From the moment you enter the century-old revived Turkish prison, you experience the deep character, rich history, and incredible culture of the “Old City.”

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The impeccable service, gorgeous décor, and location just minutes away from the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace are only a small part of what makes this hotel so unique. It is rare for a hotel to have so much personality and livelihood, which can in part be attributed to the centuries of blending of the Southern European and Middle Eastern cultures.

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Istanbul Hotel

When I first arrived in Istanbul, I was reminded of the historical towns of Portofino and Positano off the Amalfi Coast…but as the taxi took us deeper and deeper into the city, up the narrow cobblestone roads leading to the Sultanahmet, I realized there was much more to Istanbul than meets the eye. I arrived at the landmark yellow hotel and was immediately whisked away into a world of classic Byzantine culture, snacking on traditional Turkish candies on my walk through the elegant halls of this historic building. As I entered the exquisitely furnished room, I was immediately drawn the to beautiful, pale pink, enormous structure outside my window, and an intimidating white and blue tiled mosque with towering minarets. Yes, this hotel has views of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque – right outside the bedroom window. The Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque experience was amplified by the prayer services booming from the minarets five times a day, waking all within a few miles of the mosque at five in the morning. Every single day. While the early wake-up call wasn’t always welcomed, it was definitely an incredible experience.

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Istanbul is such a vibrant city – a mix of beauty, history, color, spice, and vibrancy. From the halls of the Grand Bazaar (where I bought a pretty pink patchwork purse…for $3) to the Turkish cafes bustling with activity (and home to the best kabobs in the world), it is a city for all to enjoy. My favorite part was walking through the streets of the Old City…admiring the history in each cobblestone, stopping at food carts to enjoy traditional Turkish delicacies, and imagining what life would have been like hundreds of years ago in the bustling city center of Constantinople.

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Istanbul 1

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