Istanbul is one hell of a hectic town. If it isn’t the sightseeing that drives you into the ground it’s the crazy traffic jams, the multitude of people and just a general sense of over-stimulation. Don’t come here if you don’t want to get worn out and over-excited! This is where Empress Zoe comes in. The hotel may be located in the heart of the tourist district but the courtyard garden and roof-top terrace make for one of those tranquil ‘urban oasis’ that people are always talking about. After a day of bugged-eyed mosaic tile gazing you’ll be thankful for the sight of soothing greenery.
This one-of-a-kind hotel is actually a series of five historic houses built around a private garden bordering the atmospherically crumbling ruins of a 15th century hammam. There are 25 rooms located across the hotel which cater to a gamut of requirements – singles and loved-up couples to families etc. Like all hotels some rooms and bathrooms are better than others, so if you’re fussy (and let’s say that you probably are) request the kind of room that you would prefer. Both sea and garden views are on offer – if you can spring for the terrace/balcony options, why wouldn’t you?
Located in the heart of historic Sultanahmet, most of Istanbuls’ touristic blockbusters – from the Blue Mosque to the Topkapi Palace – are all within close walking distance to the hotel. It’s great for the commited tourist who wants to get up and on the road within moments of shooting clear of bed (though do leave time for the ample breakfast buffet!). The neighbourhood is certainly on the ‘touristy’ end however this is certainly off-set by the magical atmosphere of this Sultanahmet. Transport to the the dining/entertainment areas around Istikal Caddessi is easy – just hop the tram.
What We Love
The hotel gets the consistent thumbs up for helpful, friendly service, the generous breakfast, the kind of stuff that should be standard in a hotel. But what’s important here is the atmosphere, the location, the individual touches that all serve to remind you of this remarkable city. When you wake up in the morning you’ll know exactly where you are: Istanbul! Don’t forget to check out the view from the roof-top terrace.
Sensitive sleepers: the hotel is situated between two major mosques – if 5:30am call to prayer isn’t your thing, pack ear-plugs. Note that rooms on the street are noisier – particularly in summer when people gather downstairs at the restaurants etc – so a garden room may be the more peaceful option. Rooms are accessed by steep and winding stairs: not recommended for heavy packers or people with mobility issues (the same could be said to Istanbul overall!) Finally – Empress Zoe is extremely popular so do book in advance!
Empress Zoe Akbiyik Cad.
No: 10 Sultanahmet 34122
Tel: +90 (212) 518 25 04