Just couple of weeks later I was lucky enough to get in touch with HostelsClub, a hostel booking company that provides over 28,000 accommodation options worldwide. Some of them happened to be in Istanbul. One of them was eager to host me during my stay which, I must admit, was quite a cool birthday gift. I was even happier when I learnt that I could get my Turkey visa online.
The hotel Hostels Club has found for me was quite a surprise. I exchanged dozens of emails with the Hostels Club team. In one of them, the first one ever sent, I described my travel style as a budget solo female travel. Backapackers hostels, huge dorms, shared bathrooms, this is what I’m used to when I travel and it fully satisfies me. I don’t require much comfort, I wrote.
Imagine how surprised yet thrilled I was when I read the response.
I have contacted Istanbul partner structures regarding your request for free accommodation for you in Istanbul and I confirm free nights for your stay on December 14th till 16th of December in Deluxe double room for single use in a luxury structure which reopened after renovation.
This sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?
So there I was, celebrating my 26th birthday in a magnificent, energetic and diverse city of Istanbul as a guest of Amber Best Western, a great hotel located in Kumkapi – the center of historic Istanbul, in a walking distance from the Great Market, the Blue Mosque, the Haghia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace. Such a convenient location for a city slicker, who tends to walk her legs off during her numerous city breaks. Lucky me, the blonde in Istanbul. It is enormous. In a city like this the location is almost as important as the hotel itself. Kumkapi is a great neighbourhood to stay – live fisherman’s area, full of decent restaurants, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city. This sounds lovely. And indeed it is. There are plenty great restaurants to eat out and stores to shop. So dynamic and live during the day, the streets are very calm at night. It will let you have your rest after a long days of wandering around the place.
In addition, during my stay I learnt this was the area where a lot of Armenians used to live. No matter where I go, they always keep their eye on me. OK, I know, there is probably no even a single Armenian staying there nowadays. But still. They were blinking at me from the blurry past.
Best Western is a hotel chain, each and every one of their hotels is operated independently so I was a bit unsure of what to expect. Amber Best Western turned out to be a cosy, quiet building in Ottoman style. All the 24 rooms are furnished with taste and have the five stars comfort of toiletries with Italian marble, bath tub, underfloor heating, multi channel cable TV, minibar, air-conditioning and free wifi. I rarely encounter most of these thigs when I travel so you can imagine how content and pampered I felt. I was taken by the design, especially the little details.The staircase is so pretty I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures of it. You know, like I was in a museum. I liked the breakfast area a lot. Situated at the very last floor, it hides a fantastic view on the Marmara sea. In summer you could take your breakfast sitting on a terrace. Now, it’s a bit too chilly but the view stays stunning even if you are behind the glass.
The breakfast itself was very rich too. Amber serves you tea, coffee, selection of cereals, selection of cheeses, vegetable plates, Turkish semits, toasts and selection of pastries, Turkish halva and lokum, dried fruit, fruit jellies, scrumbled and boiled eggs, sausages and omelettes. Hotel has also a restaurant an a bar serving a variety of meals and drinks to the hotel guests. The reception is open 24 hours and the receptionist is always happy to help (checked!).
The atmosphere of the hotel was truly lovely. I made friends with a few guests. We ended up going out chatting the long hours and exploring the city together. The staff was extremely friendly and cheerful too. I would love to thank all of them here on the blog for making my stay more comfortable. Special thanks go to Neda, the guest relations officer, always happy to help, always smiling and always chatting with the travelers over breakfast. I was constantly amused by her communication skills. How easy was she finding topics to discuss with any kind of guest from any possible country you can imagine!
I had a great stay at the Amber Best Western Hotel in Istanbul and I truly recommend it to all the (luxury) travel lovers who have Turkey and Istanbul on their bucket lists!