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The Killer Views And Classy Rooms Of Istanbul's Sumahan on the Water

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  Site Where: Kulelí Caddesi No 43, Cengelkoy, Istanbul, Turkey
August 20, 2014 at 9:31 AM | by | Comments (0)


The house launch and the Bosphorus Bridge, from the garden at Sumahan

A converted alcohol factory on the Asian side of Istanbul, right on the bank of the Bosphorus. There’s little not to love about Sumahan on the Water, which we mentioned last week as one of our favorite Bosphorus hotels. Today, we’ll take you through the keyhole.

First impressions are key, of course, and Sumahan does a blinding one: it sends its wooden boat to fetch you at the little dock in Tophane, on the European side. From there, it’s a 15-20 minute chug up and across the Bosphorus to Çengelköy, where you’ll dock just beside the ground floor rooms.

Sumahan was designed by its Turkish-American architect owners, Nedret and Mark Butler (Nedret’s family originally owned the factory, and transforming the abandoned space was the subject of her thesis). You can tell it’s a labor of love: each of the 24 rooms is named after a different village around the Bosphorus, and a huge amount of thought has gone into the design.

Rooms are simple, streamlined and modern, with steel beams and an open-plan feel (thankfully, no peekaboo bathrooms, though there are windows with blinds, allowing you to see the Bosphorus from the shower if you so desire). Most have fireplaces. All look out over the Bosphorus – the views are the main event here, and the rooms are chicly subdued to make the most of them – and have delicious, locally made lavender toiletries. Some even have hamam-style bathrooms.

Which room to book? We had a deluxe, and loved it. It was spacious, it had good desk space, it had a fireplace (though you’ll need to request one, as not all the deluxe rooms do), it had the bed on a little dias and a sofa in front of the windows. The views were out of this world – we stayed two days there and spent one-and-a-half of them in the hotel, watching the sun rise, the boats going to and from the Black Sea, and seeing the Bosphorus Bridge light up as the sun set. Deluxe rooms are on the second floor, and we actually preferred this category to the Loft Suites, which are duplex but on the ground floor – with those you get your own little patch of lawn on the waterfront, but the views aren’t as sweeping.

This is more of a meditative place than other hotels on the Bosphorus (thanks to the small number of rooms, the relative distance from Sultanahmet, the lack of a pool, the fact that they don’t have wedding parties and normal guests staying at the same time, which can be an issue at other waterfront properties). Some people may be after something more snazzy, but that’s precisely why we loved it – we spent 10 days in Istanbul earlier in the year, switching hotels most nights, and while they were all lovely, this is the only one we desperately didn’t want to leave.

Pro tip: to get the best value, steer clear of the summer, when rates for hotels on the Bosphorus are sky high (a deluxe room tonight costs €325, or $432). Instead, go off season – it’s just as beautiful, twice as quiet but a fraction of the cost, with rooms starting at €125 ($167).

Disclosure: Juliab stayed at Sumahan as a guest of the hotel while on assignment for another publication.

[Photos: Julia Buckley for HotelChatter]

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