The Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus proved to be one of the finest hotels I have ever stayed in, with remarkable service, delicious food, and exquisite accommodations. This hotel is a splurge, but you will not find a more beautiful venue in Istanbul.
Four Seasons Istanbul At The Bosphorus Review
I spent two nights at this gorgeous hotel last month. Even though Istanbul was under lockdown and the entire city was eerily empty, the hotel remained open with most services still available.
Standing on the shores of the Bosphorus, the centerpiece of this hotel is a restored 19th-century Ottoman palace, known as Atik Pasha. It’s beautiful on the inside and outside and its prime position on the Strait of Bosphorous makes it clear why this once served as the Sultan’s summer palace.
Four Seasons acquired the property in 2008. The hotel has 145 guest rooms, including 25 suites.
You stay at this hotel for the location…it is picturesque to a degree that it seems almost surreal. It’s one thing to have a view of the sea or ocean, it’s quite another to be at ocean level as you eat or swim or relax on the terrace.
That marble terrace is truly the heart of the property and it feels like a palace…because it is a former palace.
The hotel is located in the heart of Istanbul’s modern neighborhood, meaning you’re a 15-minute drive from Istanbul’s most popular tourist attractions like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, and the Basilica Cistern.
Standard rooms at the Four Seasons run about $400-500/night. This was a special trip that required a diversion from my usual stays at one of the many Hyatts in the city. Book with a Virtuso agent to enjoy additional benefits like breakfast, room upgrades, and late-checkout.
Like the Four Seasons in Beirut, my car was greeted outside the entrance and a trio of staff welcomed in. Check-in formalities were short and I quickly had my room key.
My room, 208 in the palace, featured a beautiful high ceiling, freshly-cut flowers, and a decadent king-sized bed. A chaise lounge and a desk provided plenty of places for me to work during my stay.
The view out my window was to a well-manicured garden and entrance to the hotel.
Waiting in the room was a fruit plate (replenished daily), water, and a box of crackers. The following day, I returned to my room to find a wonderful assortment of baklava.
Coffee in the room included Nespresso capsules. Water was also replenished daily.
The mini-bar in the room was fully stocked, though the prices were commensurate with U.S. luxury hotel prices.
The bathroom included a granite countertop and a separate shower, bath tub, and water closet.
Shampoo, conditioner, and soap were Aqua Universalis from Maison.
Other bathroom amenities included bath salt and a loofah.
I’m a sucker for hotel robes and appreciated the soft robe while lounging in my room or in the spa.
Food + Drink
I did not leave the property for my entire stay, meaning many fine meals at the hotel.
The first day was a bit weird, as I arrived in the middle of the afternoon. My friend and I enjoyed a bottle of Möet Champagne and I had a pizza margherita for lunch on the terrace. The hotel offers an all-day menu which you can order in your room or on the beautiful terrace overlooking the Bosphorus.
That pizza in the middle of the day (preceded by a delicious lunch on Turkish Airlines) meant I was not very hungry that evening and I just had a hamburger, again on the terrace.
Breakfast At Aqua
I was up early the next morning and went down to Aqua, the hotel’s fine dining – seafood restaurant for a cappuccino and orange juice.
My friend sleeps in, so I was able to get my work done while sipping coffee and freshly-squeezed orange juice and waited until later to actually eat breakfast.
An extensive buffet breakfast was available with fresh fruit and vegetables, breads and pastries, cold cuts, Turkish mezze, and hot traditional British-American breakfast dishes like scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, potatoes, and beans. You could also order off an a la carte menu.
The second morning I was on my own and dined again at Aqua, only this time on the outdoor terrace rather than inside. I enjoyed a bit from the buffet (scrambled eggs, tomato, mushrooms, Gözleme (stuffed flatbread), and an almond croissant). Then I ordered Menemen (eggs, tomato, green peppers, and spices) and finally French Toast, which was not worth the calories.
I also appreciated the green drink, which was simply freshly cut green vegetables and fruit, with a bit of ginger.
My only gripe about the entire dining experience was the coffee…I know, I know, I’m such an snobbish coffee drinker. The cappuccinos were too light-roasted for my taste and tasted Nespresso-like, even though they were beautifully presented. The latte was even worse.
But the filter coffee was delicious and perhaps you are best sticking to Turkish coffee at a Turkish hotel.
We had room service breakfast my first morning, which was very good. I had Menemen, fresh berries, an almond croissant, and plain yogurt with pistachios. Meanwhile, my friend just had scrambled eggs.
My favorite meal of the stay was dinner I had the second night. It included Ezogelin, a traditional Turkish soup with bulgur and red lentil, hot bread, and deliciously spiced kabobs containing minced lamb, pistachio, roasted shallots, tomatoes, and pepper. For dessert: knafeh, my favorite Middle Eastern dessert. This was such a tasty meal and showed me that as nice as the hamburgers and pizza are, nothing beats Turkish food in Turkey.
Ocakbaşı means fireside and is the hotels’ Turkish restaurant (where I ordered the room service kabob from). The restaurant itself is located near the pool and has Turkish mezze and a number of Turkish kebabs.
YALI Lounge (Bar)
The bar looked posh..but was closed due to the pandemic. It is now open.
I got a kick out of this restaurant, located in the lobby of the palace, because one side was glass windows which could be opened, which means three sides were enclosed, one was opened, but because one was open you could smoke. This is where to sit if you’re a smoker and want to smoke “indoors” (not that there weren’t many people who smoked on the patio as well).
Spa + Pool + Fitness
Due to COVID-19 restrictions (now lifted), the hotel’s fitness center was closed. However, the hotel improvised by setting up a small outdoor fitness area around the pool that included a trio of treadmills, elliptical bike, and free weights, and medicine balls.
The outdoor pool on the terrace adjacent to the Bosphorous and was surrounded by chairs, umbrellas, and finely-manicured lawns and trees.
But the indoor pool was even more of a gem, with a mosaic tile floor, Corinthian columns on either side, and skylights ushering in natural light.
Due to COVID-19, the jacuzzi was closed (but has since re-opened).
The spa is located adjacent to the pool and the Four Seasons offers a large menu of treatments. Inside the locker rooms, a sauna and steam room were available. The steam room was closed (and like the hot tub and fitness center, has since re-opened).
The capacity limit inside the (rather large) sauna was only one person, so I always had it to myself.
As you walk through the hotel and grounds, you’ll enjoy an eclectic mix of artwork, including paintings and sculptures.
Several pieces are for sale, though I cannot say I have a place for the mechanical dog at home…
My expectations were high: this was a Four Seasons property and I expected excellent service. The hotel did not disappoint…not in a single instance. But one person stood out in particular: that was Özgür, a guest experience agent. He greeted me when I arrived, said goodbye when I left, was highly knowledgeable about a wide range of issues (and therefore a pleasure to chat with) and it was clear he loved his job and wanted to care for guests.
Özgür was great, but every encounter truly was professional. There was a language barrier with a couple employees, but they summoned their colleagues in a professional way that left me wishing I could speak a bit of Turkish.
With the Turkish Lira extremely weak, this is a great time to travel to Istanbul. The hotel is wonderful in almost every way and your dollar goes a long way these days. I love my Hyatt hotels in Istanbul (all of them), but I greatly look forward to returning to the Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus.