Even though we’ve spent quite a bit of time in Turkey over the last couple of years, it is only recently that I have learnt the secret of finding a fabulous small hotel there.
Last year we spent six weeks on the road touring a large part of central Turkey. From the Black Sea to Cappadocia, Gaziantep, Hatay and Konya and the southern coast we travelled, booking our accommodation at the last minute when we knew the time had come to move on.
Turkish Small Hotels
Nisanyan Evleri Hotel
This year we arrived in Turkey from the Greek Islands and headed to Sirinice, not far from Ephesus. Surprisingly I had booked a hotel here for the night… the Nisanyan Evleri.
This fabulous, little hideaway hotel above the old town of Sirinice, has cottages hidden amongst the trees. The cottages are all different but equally inviting. The pool is hidden in the trees too. You can see glimpses of it as you walk the tree lined path to your cottage. As with many of these hotels, the Turkish village breakfast will keep you going all day especially if you are about to tackle the crowds at nearby Ephesus.
I suggest that you stay at least two nights…it will give you the time to take the six minute walk down into the village. Walking back up the hill takes a bit longer!!
The Tas Otel
Our next hotel was just as fabulous. Alacati is a small town that is a popular summer destination for Turks and tourists alike.
The Tas Otel opened in 2001 and was one of the first boutique hotels in a town that was once a Greek town. Walking into the hotel, you feel as though you are entering a private home. The seven rooms are tastefully decorated in keeping with the feel of the beautiful stone building. The hotel’s position, on the edge of the town, is easy to reach by car (follow their directions on the web site) and at the start of a lovely walk through this pretty town of bougainvillea covered stone buildings with blue trim! Don’t miss cake and tea at 5pm! They’ve even published a great little recipe book of the cakes they make. Your gift is waiting for you in your room!
The Turkish Small Hotels Association
By the time we arrived in Istanbul I was wiser. Along the way, I had realised that both these hotels are members of an association of hoteliers, the Turkish Small Hotels Association.
In Istanbul we were the guests of two hotels that belong to this group.
Armada Pera Hotel.
I do love the European side of the Istanbul! It’s not because of the shopping on nearby Istiklal Caddesi or the fabulous restaurants in the area (well maybe a little!) but because you are so central to exploring so many different areas of the city.
The Armada Pera Hotel was in a great spot for all of this…..a three minutes walk to Istiklal Caddesi, 5 minutes to the Talabarsi market on the other side of the main street, 5 minutes to Galata Tower, 10 minutes to Taksim, a little longer to Nisantasi and 10 minutes to Cihanger. A ten minute walk across the Galata Bridge would take you Sultanahmet where another world awaits.
As well as this you are staying in a little bit of Turkish history. The hotel was once the Parma Apartment House, built by Paul Parma, a tailor to the sultan. Renovated in 2013, the art nouveau features have been kept and memorabilia from Parma’s life are on display through out the hotel.
But one you’re inside your room its a different story. Smartly decorated rooms, Chic and modern marble bathrooms, lovely toiletries, even a Nespresso machine….you’ll be very happy here. And, as with the other hotels we stayed at that are members of the association, the staff are so genuinely welcoming and helpful.
Sirkeci Mansion Hotel
We also stayed on the other side…something I have not done for a few years now! Our hotel in Sirkeci, the Sirkeci Mansion Hotel lies between the waterfront of Eminönü and the historical sights in Sultanahmet….A fabulous position close to everything.
We wandered through the busy restaurant lined streets of Sirkeci, walked in nearby Gülhane Park and returned to the historical sights in Sultanahmet during the day and again at night. With the Gülhane tram stop only fifty metres from the hotel we popped back to Beyoglu for dinner and headed to Besiktas. From the nearby Sirkeci train station we could be exploring the markets of Kadiköy on the Asian side in no time!
The hotel was a delight to return to every afternoon. Our room had the biggest bed you have ever seen, the bathroom was modern and small thoughtful touches were everywhere…welcoming letters from the owner, small bowls of turkish delight, complimentary afternoon tea, a fabulous breakfast buffet and again, brilliant staff. If you upgrade to a deluxe room, a large balcony overlooking Gulhane Park awaits you.
But the other reason we’ll be returning to Sirkeci Mansions is to take one of the free tours they they offer their guests. I’m going to make sure I stay on a Monday to take the culinary walk through Sirkeci and the cooking class in the evening. I’ll definitely be there on a Wednesday to join the guide on a trip to the Fatih market and I may even stay till Saturday so I can learn the secrets of the old trades and the wholesale businesses behind the Grand Bazaar. This means I’ll be there for Thursdays wine tasting!
The secret of finding the Best Turkish Small Hotels.
These tours are part of the vision of Faruk Boyaci, the owner of Sirkeci Mansions, to introduce guests to the the area in which they are staying and to promote Sirkeci, an area of which he is incredibly proud.
Faruk started the Turkish Small Hotels association for exactly these reasons. He realised that more and more tourists want to experience the lifestyle around them and enjoy the cultural traditions of the people amongst whom they are staying.
Turkish hospitality is renown. The turkish people are probably the most friendly you will meet. Turkish food is addictive and their culture fascinating. We all want to experience this when we visit Turkey.
The group started with a few hoteliers who thought as Faruk did….owners who have a vision not only for their hotel but for their town and area in which they live. People like Ms. Zeynep Öziş, the owner of the Tas Otel who is also the vice president of the group. Since the day her hotel opened in Alacati she has promoted the town and helped make it the place it is today…a town you should not miss!
Today the 250 members of the Turkish Small Hotels Association are in twenty nine towns across Turkey…and the number is growing but as Faruk explained to me, only those that have the same philosophy will be admitted.
How to Book a Turkish Small Hotel
The hotels are easy to book. Just open the Turkish Small Hotels web site Turkish Small Hotels and fill in the dates and the town you are planning to visit. Don’t forget to hit the translate button to read about the hotel in English.
Turkey is a fascinating country and I can’t wait to return and explore more of the country. Turkish Small hotels will only make it easier!
How do you look for your accommodation in Turkey?
Discloser: Whilst my stay in Istanbul was complimentary, we paid the full price for our stays in Alacati and Sirinice.
Other articles you may enjoy:
An Introduction to Istanbul for the First Time Visitor
Your Guide to Istanbul:What to do
Breakfast in Istanbul
Highlights of our Turkey Road Trip