Hotel Review: Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul


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Once in a long while LTB comes across a hotel so excellently executed, on such prime location and containing the most unique and diversified amenities that it snags the A++ distinction. We first saw this with the Breidenbacher Hof hotel in Dusseldorf , but hard as we tried, we were just not able to find a worthy opponent. Hotel upon hotel would be held up against this impossible benchmark and once again be found desperatly wanting. Sighs would be exhaled upon inspecting one’s hotel room, followed by an emphatic yet disappointed “It’s definitely not the Breidenbacher.”

It seems rather fitting that a hotel in Istanbul, once the seat of the Ottoman empire, would be the one to restore LTB’s faith in European luxury hotels. Situated along the banks of the Bosphorus river on what is essentially the Five-Star Hotel Mile in the Besiktas area, it overlooks the Asian side of the city, as well as the Bosphorus bridge that connects it to the European side.

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Luxury Travel Beat Blurb: The Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul was originally built by Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha in 1719 for his wife Fatma Sultan, whose love for torch-lit (ciragan in Turkish) garden parties inspired the name of the hotel. The former palace was then improved upon by a succession of Sultans before becoming the seat of the Turkish parliament in 1909.

It is always a sad experience to stay at a hotel whose heyday is to be found in a long gone era; One gets the impression they are hanging on for dear life on the coattails of their former glory. This is definitely not the case here. From the Gazebo Lounge, where Istanbulites go to see and be seen, to the Sanitas-managed spa whose treatments you can enjoy in a private booth in the hotel’s gardens during the warm months, to the the hotel’s choice of  six restaurants and bars that really show how dedicated it is to offering guests careful and attentive attention, there is really very little to complain about. LTB sampled the hotel’s Tugra restaurant which fittingly offers exquisite Turkish and Ottoman fare on the first floor of the original Ciragan palace.

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Tripadvisor rating: 92%, with the 9 out of 10 of the latest reviews being positive.

Stay here if:

  • You are a serious history buff. The hotel’s rich past is documented and exhibited in an area of the hotel, making it obvious that one is living on a live, historical site.
  •  Breakfast is your favourite meal of the day. Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel’s Laledan restaurant offers guests a breakfast table heaving under the weight of no less than 250 organically sourced items.

Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel, Çiragan Caddesi 32, Besiktas, Istanbul, Telephone: +90 212 326 4646. All photos courtesy of Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel.

This article was originally published in August 2011.

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