When it comes to holiday accommodation, there’s nothing I like less than big, brash hotels. I don’t like the amount of ground they cover with shining steel and glass, I don’t like the communist, vanilla uniformity of the rooms, and I definitely don’t like paying for prices as high as the penthouse suite for wi-fi access.
So when my boyfriend whisked me off for an Istanbul city break this month, the junior suite in his hotel of choice definitely got my seal of approval. So much of a seal of approval that he’s now my fiancé! Quirky, intimate, sleekly designed and situated in a converted mansion block, The House Hotel Galatasaray was quite genuinely, one of the best places I’ve ever stayed.
Now we’re not tight. But we like to save cash when we can. Which is why we didn’t get a taxi from the airport on the sticky Monday morning we arrived in Istanbul. Instead, the air-conditioned, comfortable shuttle bus got us there quickly and easily. Except not to our door. We set off, wheeling out suitcases behind us, from the northern part of town’s hub, Taksim Square. We knew the weather would be hot and humid, but it turns out that Istanbul is also very hilly and rather tricky to navigate (especially if you confuse the ‘H’ for hospital with the marker for your hotel).
“Isn’t that a coincidence? This hospital is alsmost exactly where it seems our hotel should be…”
So we slithered up to the reception desk, trying to discreetly wipe the drops of our sweat off the antique tiled floor as we checked in. Thank goodness it was so well air-conditioned.
Our room was on the ground floor, backing onto a quiet street. From here it took almost as long to get up the stairs to have breakfast on the rootop than it did to reach Beyoglu’s pedestrianised shopping street, Istiklal Caddesi. It was beautiful, and a perfectly romantic refuge from the heat and clamour of the city outside.
- The old-fashioned glamour of the building itself, enhanced by some modern twists (little touches are what it’s all about)
- The soft, crisp sheets (probably the best I’ve ever slept in)
- The corian-framed, wooden-floored rainfall shower beside the bed (a-mazing) with L’Occitane toiletries
- The fabulous cleaner who just seemed to put everything in exactly the right place (although we never spotted her to say thanks in person)
- The dimmable light switches and gorgeous, modern chandeliers (oh how I love mood lighting)
- The golden birds adorning the walls (pretty, but not too silly)
- The invisible but effective air-conditioning (where did it come from? Magic!)
- The ridiculously amazing breakfast complete with eggs cooked to order, pastries, savouries, cakes, exotic fruit etc etc (although be warned; I put on 4 pounds, which I directly attribute to 4 breakfasts)
- The location in buzzy Beyoglu (still easy to get anywhere from the nearby tram station)
I felt a bit like a princess staying here, which is maybe why the staff only suggested the most expensive destinations for meals and sightseeing. As an avowed penny pincher, that was my only gripe about such a gorgeous hotel – after all, even the very rich love a bargain.