best luxury hotels in istanbul
Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus

The best luxury hotels in Istanbul

12 Oct 2023 | Updated on: 16 Oct 2023 |By Zoe Gunn

Rich history meets contemporary hospitality in one of the world’s oldest cities

There are few cities that can lay claim to quite the breadth of history and culture boasted by Istanbul. Inhabited as far back as the 6th century BCE, it has variously served as the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, as well as forming part of both the Ancient Greek and Roman realms. Prized for its strategically advantageous position at the crossing point between Europe and Asia, as well as its protected position on a peninsula in the Bosphorus River, it has long proved an attractive base for sultans, kings and seats of immense power.

After the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923, the official capital moved to Ankara, but that hasn’t prevented Istanbul from continuing to flourish as one of the most economically and culturally prosperous cities in the country. Teeming with jaw-dropping attractions, from the stunning Topkapi Palace to the famed Hagia Sophia, as well as world-class food and a vibrant nightlife scene, Istanbul easily ranks among Europe’s top city break destinations. Accordingly, it has the hotels to match, with big-name hospitality groups and boutique propositions staking their claim to prime real estate along the Bosphorus over the past few decades.

But, with so much choice (the Four Seasons alone has two five-star hotels in the city), how to choose? Read on for our guide to the best luxury hotels in Istanbul.

Shangri-La Bosphorus, Beşiktaş

shangri-la istanbul bosphorus

Occupying a prime position overlooking the Bosphorus in the Beşiktaş district, moments from the magnificent Dolmabahçe Palace and with views over Istanbul Old Town, the Shangri-La has been welcoming guests to its majestic 1930s period property for a decade. Boasting 186 rooms and suites, many of which are far larger than at Istanbul hotels of a similar calibre, the hotel acts as a sanctuary from the bustling city outside, combining the hotel group’s Eastern traditions with Ottoman-inspired glamour for an unforgettable stay.

shangri-la bosphorus istanbul

Istanbul is renowned for its great food but, if you can’t face navigating the maze of bars and restaurants in buzzy Beşiktaş, Shangri-La’s riverside IST TOO promises international cuisine (including plenty of Turkish favourites) with irresistible views and an impressive list of homegrown wines. Elsewhere, Shang Palace offers elevated authentic Cantonese cuisine and Le Bar provides a sophisticated place to stop in for a nightcap before bed. Weary after a long day of sightseeing? Head to the subterranean spa, Chi, to avail yourself of its serene hammam, indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room, and traditional Eastern and Turkish treatments.

Rooms from €290 per night, visit

The Peninsula Istanbul, Karaköy

peninsula istanbul

Istanbul’s newest five-star hotel, The Peninsula, opened in early 2023 in an enviable position next to the recently rejuvenated Galataport district (home to the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art) and just across the Galata Bridge from the city’s main tourist sites. Spanning four historic buildings on the banks of the Bosphorus, the oldest of which dates back to 1912, The Peninsula blends period features with the absolute latest mod-cons – think Japanese heated toilets and in-room touchscreen controls for everything from the TV and curtains to the lights and valet service.

peninsula istanbul

As with most city hotels, outdoor space is at a premium in Istanbul, but at The Peninsula, it’s available in abundance. As well as lush gardens and an outdoor swimming pool overlooking the river, the hotel also boasts an elegant roof terrace as part of its upscale Turkish-Asian eatery, Gallada. Also located in the hotel’s central Art Deco-style building, head downstairs to find the all-day international Lobby restaurant (we can think of few finer breakfast spots) and even further down to discover a vast wellness offering featuring a gym, swimming pool, hammam and spa with eight treatment rooms.

Rooms from €1,050 per night, visit

Conrad Istanbul Bosphorus, Beşiktaş

conrad istanbul

Also located in the popular Beşiktaş district, it’s hard to miss the Conrad Istanbul. Perched higher up the hill than its five-star rivals, its 14-storey wave-like structure creates a beacon calling home tired sightseers and weary business travellers at the end of a long day. And, while it may be a little further from the most famous attractions than some of its rivals, what it loses in commute time it gains in seriously incredible views – especially when appreciated over a cocktail at the rooftop bar and sushi restaurant, Summit.

conrad istanbul suite bathroom

The Conrad’s location also affords it a little more space for facilities than some of its counterparts. Further dining options include the Manzara all-day restaurant and Monet coffee lounge (with a further Italian restaurant set to open next year), while a basement wellness space offers a hair salon, gym, spa, swimming pool, hammam and yoga studio. If that wasn’t quite enough to keep you occupied, you’ll also find two tennis courts and an outdoor swimming pool in the grounds, as well as a regularly rotating programme of live music and open-air film screenings. This is a city hotel designed for far more than a long weekend.

Rooms from €223 per night, visit

Four Seasons at Sultanahmet

four seasons Istanbul sultanahmet

As with most European ‘old towns’, finding space for a five-star hotel in Sultanahmet, the Ottoman heart of Istanbul, isn’t easy – so don’t let the fact that the Four Seasons is housed in a former prison put you off. In fact, having reopened earlier this year after a major refurbishment, which saw its turrets and walls doused in a cheery yellow and its 65 rooms and suites given a thorough makeover by London-based Goddard Littlefair, the vibe is now more akin to a chateau in the South of France – and saw it scoop Travel + Leisure’s Best Hotel in the World award in 2023.

four seasons istanbul sultanahmet courtyard

One of two Four Seasons hotels in Istanbul (the other can be found further upriver in Beşiktaş), there are few luxury hotels in Istanbul better located if you’re planning a weekend of sightseeing. Moments from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, with the Topkapi Palace and Grand Bazaar reachable within an easy stroll, if navigating Istanbul’s (limited) public transport network doesn’t sound like much fun, this is the hotel for you. As for its four restaurants and bars, traditional Turkish spa and lush courtyard? Merely icing on the cake.

Rooms from £666 per night, visit

Raffles Istanbul, Zincirlikuyu

raffles istanbul bedroom

Found at the heart of Istanbul’s commercial district, but within close enough proximity to pop out for some sightseeing between meetings should you wish, Raffles Istanbul is a modern hotel bursting with old-school charm and hospitality. Voted the Best Hotel in Turkey by Conde Nast Traveller readers in 2022, every room and suite comes with a private balcony or terrace (a feature sorely lacking from many hotel rooms in Istanbul) as well as floor-to-ceiling windows that maximise the hotel’s hilltop position.

raffles istanbul swimming pool

Foodies are particularly well catered for here thanks to a choice of seven bars and restaurants, including the Asian Isokoyo, Mediterannenan Rocca, a dedicated champagne room and the Lounge 6 cocktail bar. Likewise, the wellness offering at Raffles is one of the most expansive in Istanbul, spanning nearly 3,000 square metres and offering seven spa suites, three hammams, a fitness centre, pool, yoga studio, two hair and nail salons, and separate male and female relaxation spaces.

Rooms from €460 per night, visit

Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Beşiktaş

mandarin oriental istanbul suite

Promising more of a resort feel than the other hotels on this list, largely owing to an upriver location that affords it the luxury of greater space, the Mandarin Oriental has gone to great lengths to make the most of its riverside position, with many of its rooms and the majority of its restaurants and communal spaces promising Bosphorus views. Drawing inspiration inside and out from Ottoman design and architecture, rooms are light and airy with opulent touches of purple and gold, while its sprawling ballrooms set the scene for highly glamorous events.

During the day, unwind on the riverside terrace, take a running tour of the local area or call on the concierge to organise one of the many and varied cultural and historical experiences devised specially for Mandarin Oriental guests. When it comes to dinner, there are some familiar names on the menu. The Mandarin Oriental is home to the Istanbul outposts of both Hakkasan and Novikov, as well as its own Italian Olea restaurant, where the best seat in the house is practically on top of the water.

Rooms from €720 per night, visit

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