With sweeping Bosphorus views from the restaurants, bars, pool area, and most rooms, the Çırağan has a spectacularly beautiful setting from one side, though the entrance faces a busy and often traffic-clogged road. The bustling neighbourhoods of Beşiktaş and Ortaköy are fairly close by, though the city’s main sights and nightlife are further afield.
If you want to stay in the original palace itself, plan to splash out for one of the hotel’s 12 most expensive suites; the other 303 room are in the newer addition. Though most of the rooms are overdone for my tastes, I like how they all have balconies, and the way beds in some rooms face directly out at the sea. The damask-upholstered gold and red chaise lounges are a nice touch too.
The well-landscaped gardens and waterfront promenades are good for a stroll – if you can tear yourself away from the comfortable rooms and luxurious pool area.
Eating and drinking
The well-regarded Tuğra Restaurant in the original palace offers updated takes on classic Ottoman dishes, such as pistachio-encrusted lamb loin and a slow-cooked clay-pot kebab. Get a table on the moonlit terrace if you can, then top the evening off with a nightcap at the intimate Çırağan Bar.
Set amid palm trees and alongside the Bosphorus, the outdoor pool is a summertime treat, with umbrella chairs aplenty and private cabanas where you can get one of a variety of massages. The spa facilities also include a heated indoor pool, Turkish bath, and fitness centre with personal trainer.
Service is warm and professional, with extremely competent concierges.
Who stays there
Popular for weddings and other lavish events, the Çırağan draws an elite crowd from many countries, including Istanbul locals.
Keep an eye out for packages that include the breakfast buffet, which features everything from sushi to sucuk (spicy Turkish sausage) but costs 100 Turkish Liras (50 euros) per person. I also recommend not bothering with the cheapest “park view” rooms – you’re already paying for the location, so it doesn’t make much sense not to spend a bit more to enjoy the Bosphorus view the entire experience is built around.
- Business travellers
- Seasoned travellers
- Celebrity spotting
- Great views / scenery
- People watching
- Special occasions
Pros & Cons
- Luxurious pool and spa
- Top-notch service
- Stunning setting
- Location not the most convenient
- Overpriced food, drinks and extras
- Street-facing rooms noisy, less appealing