The House Hotel, part of Istanbul’s home-grown glamorous cafe group, is busily opening up a string of hotels across Istanbul (and more power to them). It’s a tough choice, but for sheer individuality we think their 20-room hotel in Galatasaray in a four-storey 1890’s mansion gets our vote.
Created with Istanbul design firm Autoban the House Hotel Galatasaray strikes an unusually fine and elegant balance between flamboyance and restraint. Founded by Seyhan Ozdemir and Sefer Caglarhas Autoban has won a proverbial ‘swathe’ of design and related awards (including ‘Best Young Designers’ for Wallpaper back in 2004!) . They are the brains behind the House Hotel’s other offerings in Nisantasi and on the Bosphorus as well as the glamorous Witt Hotel, also in Istanbul. (Aside: ‘Autoban’ may sound like the creation of square-glasses wearing creative types who spent too much of their youth listening to Kraftwerk – it’s actually a melding of both the Turkish and German word ‘highway’.)
Istanbul cool….as one of the city’s most fashionable addresses, the House Hotel Galatasaray attracts its fair share of the in crowd – fashion, media, design – as well as your good time bon vivant. It is located in a 200 year old building which has been extensively renovated while maintaining the original integrity of the building. The age and style of the structure means there are a few restrictions: there is no lift and communal spaces are limited. The rooftop breakfast/lounge area is on the fifth floor is a bit of a climb but compensates with great views!
The hotel is brilliantly located if you’re intending to mix up some old-fashioned sight-seeing with having a good time in Istanbul. Located between Taksim and Tunel metro stations, it’s a five minute walk to the main pedestrian shopping street of İstiklal Caddesi where the surrounding lanes are packed with bar and restaurant options. Walk ten minutes or so in the direction to the waterfront and you’ll stumble across the contemporary art gallery Istanbul Modern, worth checking out for the art, and definitely worth stopping for a coffee or glass of wine at the gallery’s impressive cafe. Sultanahmet, the Golden Horn etc are easy to get to – just hop public transport.
The main advantage of staying over this side of town is once you’ve finished traversing the ancient wonders of the old town you can squeeze in a nap at the hotel and emerge – fighting fit – in exactly the ideal part of town to find a party.
What We Love
The interior design here is something very special – it oozes class. This an interesting opportunity to experience the melding of an old world Istanbul architecture with the kind of high-end contemporary design that is putting Istanbul on the map as one of the world’s hot spots for architecture and design.
Room to Improve
It’s not an improvement per se, but we do wonder about the thinking behind the transparent showers in the middle of the room – is this something that anybody really wants? Clothes and luggage storage could be more generous – there’s nothing worse than having the perfect room but nowhere to stock your clothes.
For such a dense city Istanbul offers a multitude of scenic lookouts – don’t miss the roof-top terrace lounge bar with views over central Istanbul and The Galata Tower. Note that rooms on the lower floors tend to be noisier and some do not benefit from a lot of light – so we suggest requesting a room higher up. As mentioned there’s no lift so if climbing stairs is likely to impede or irk you, we’d suggest instead that book at the more modern House Hotel Nisantasi which is equally lovely and very popular.
House Hotel Galatasaray
Beyoğlu, Bostanbaşı Cd No:19,
Fall to sleep to Mercan Dede’s Istanbul...this beautiful song by the Montreal/Istanbul musician perfectly compliments the design theme that mingles ‘East meets West’. The references to sufi-ism coupled with guest appearances by local rapper Ceza pays homage to the city’s spiritual and philosophical pedigree while celebrating the raw energy of contemporary Istanbul…hypnotic.