Planning a holiday on the Turkish coast and not sure where to stay? Check out my guide to five of the best hotels in the Bodrum city area
Bodrum city is a beautiful place, with three or four marinas, a landscaped seafront and the ancient castle of St Peter in the centre. Near the castle, there is a pedestrian area with a maze of little shops on cobblestoned streets and countless seafront restaurants where you can sit and eat and watch the fish swimming in the sea.
There are hundreds of hotels and places to stay - but which are the best on a mid-range (£50 per double) budget? Firstly, be aware that Bodrum is often used to describe the entire peninsula of Bodrum, so be careful when booking, or you could end up staying in somewhere like Gundagun, a small village that is a 40-minute bus trip from Bodrum city.
The following five hotels all have excellent rooms and facilities, equivalent to a four-star hotel in the UK. Where I have used the phrase 'all inclusive', it means that all food and drinks are included in the price, usually from 8 am to midnight. My bookings were all in May/June or September/October, which is the best time to visit Bodrum. July and August can be excessively warm, with temperatures in the high 30°s common.
All hotels are close to or in the city centre and approximately a 30-minute drive from Mugla airport (expect to pay £30 in a taxi). All have swimming pools, spas, Turkish baths and gymnasiums, with several having tennis courts, pool tables, table tennis tables and archery. Try a Turkish bath, as it is excellent for cleansing the skin prior to a few days' sunbathing. Gents should take a Turkish shave and head massage - as well as giving you a very close old-fashioned shave, it's also relaxing.
Firstly, the Diamond of Bodrum hotel, on Ataturk Caddesi (Ataturk Street). This is a Russian-owned hotel, located east of the city centre and near the Halikarnas nightclub, one of the largest open air discos in the world. It has its own private beach and is about a 10-minute walk from the ancient castle of St Peter, which is the centre of Bodrum. The walk takes you along the seafront past numerous cafes, bars and shops.
Although the rooms are small, they are very well finished, with flat screen televisions and upmarket toiletries. The bars and reception areas are very luxurious and the food and drink good and varied. If you want to be able to access the centre without having to use buses or taxis, this is the best located of these five hotels. I paid £60 per night per double, all inclusive.
Vera Club Hotel TMT is on the same road as the Diamond hotel, about half a mile further out of the city. If you don't fancy the 20-minute walk into the centre, the dolmus (pronounced 'dolmush') stops outside the hotel. The dolmus are numerous small buses, which stop if you wave at the driver and cost about 3 lira (just over £1) per journey. To return to your hotel, simply remember the destination on the sign on the bus and take that bus for your return journey.
Rooms in the Vera are in two-storey chalet-type buildings. They are spacious and all face the sea, but some have limited sea views. When booking, send the hotel an email asking for a full sea view and they will generally accomodate your request. The Vera can be booked for around £45 per night per double, all inclusive. One aspect of the hotel that may not suit all is the daily 'animation programme', which is common in many Turrkish hotels. This consists of pool games and bingo, etc, and can be quite noisy in this case.
The Forever Club Hotel is again on Ataturk Street and half a mile further out than the Vera. This hotel has probably the best variety and quality of food of any of my recommendations. The staff are also superb. By way of example, one night my wife and I went to bed at around 2 am, having over-indulged in the all-inclusive. The next morning, we got a call from reception to say that my wife had dropped a 20 lira note (about £7). This had been picked up by a waiter who recognised us and handed it into reception.
The hotel is very popular with older guests, many of whom return year after year, which is obviously a testimony to the service. The hotel has two à la carte restaurants, seafood and Italian, which are available one night per week each as part of the all-inclusive package. These are on the fourth floor and offer superb food and service with a romantic sea view.
The rooms in the hotel are of average size and well equipped; thanks to the steep terrain the hotel is built on, they also have superb sea views. The only drawback to the Forever Club is that to reach some of the upper rooms, you have to take several flights of steps after the lift, which may not suit those with mobility problems. The Forever Club can be booked for £48 per night, all-inclusive.
The Azka Hotel is on Bardeci Beach, which is between Bodrum city and the nearby town of Gumbet. This is a five-star hotel which I booked at £25 per double for bed and breakfast. It is about a 10-minute walk to Bodrum centre, but the first 500 metres of this is up an extremely steep hill. However, there is a water taxi into St Peter's castle, which costs about 5 lira (£2) one way. This gives excellent views of the castle and marina from the water, especially at night. This hotel has beautiful gardens with its own beach; it also has a large indoor pool. The rooms are large and many are on the ground floor with easy access to the gardens, beach and pool.
Lastly, the Royal Asarlik Beach Hotel, which is in Gumbet. Gumbet is a purpose-built resort about three miles from Bodrum city and lacks the charm and history of Bodrum. It has a very raucous 'bar street' with countless bars and restaurants with staff trying to entice you in with special offers. This does provide fine value for eating and drinking, if not a quiet night out. It also provides good shopping bargains.
The Royal Asarlik is in a quieter part of Gumbet, about five minutes' walk from bar street. It has its own beach and two swiming pools. Again, the food is very good and varied. Try for a room on the fifth floor, as they are the largest, were redecorated in 2008 and have beautiful sea views. There's a sister hotel next door, the Asarlik, which is OK, but not as good as the Royal - don't make the mistake of booking here. The dolmus bus will take you to Bodrum city from Gumbet or you can take a taxi for about £5. The Royal Asarlik can be booked from £50 per night per double, all inclusive.