1. Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet
The Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet is really the only place offering five-star service so close to Istanbul’s principal attractions. Hagia Sophia is just around the corner: some rooms offer views of the cathedral-turned-mosque and its fabulously rambling architecture. The Blue Mosque is equally close, and the Ottoman splendour of the Topkapi Palace, now a museum set in beautiful gardens, is a short walk away.
The hotel itself draws out connections with these places. Freshly (and thoroughly) refurbished, the rooms and common spaces are bathed in calming natural colours. Dark wooden furniture, cream paint and long white curtains are brightened by fabrics and furnishings of ochre and pink – a subtle reference to Hagia Sophia and its Byzantine brickwork. With high ceilings, wide corridors and tall windows, this is a hotel that is generous with its space.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
2. D Maris Bay
It’s a maze to find your room at D Maris Bay, but once you do, you won’t be disappointed. Deluxe rooms have sea views, but the real star of the show was a Jacuzzi-like bath that overlooked the ocean. There are options from classic rooms all the way up to the presidential suite which sits on the top floor.
There are a few restaurants to choose from at D Maris Bay, including a branch of the Japanese chain Zuma. Serving traditional Greek food, Manos is the epitome of a good time. With ouzo and wine flowing, fresh fish that crumbles off the bone, salads, meats and more, you’ll leave feeling full of joy – and energised by smashing a plate or two.
Guests can take part in water sports or relax on one of the five sandy beaches that wrap around the bay. A ride on the funicular – revealing unbelievable views – is another must-try, as well as the excellent and expansive spa where a Turkish hammam and treatments are available.
In the northern part of Bodrum peninsula, 30 minutes or so away from the main town, Maçakizi (meaning Ace of Spades) sits in the quiet town of Göltürkbükü on the Turkish riviera. The hotel was established in the 1970s by Ayla Emiroğlu who, captivated by the quiet charm of the area, built this cool, subtle retreat which the glitterati soon flocked to.
There’s a pool which is “just for show”, we’re told, as Maçakizi is renowned for its beach bar – a two-storey casual restaurant that winds down to meet the sea, floating sun decks kissing the coast. It’s a show-stopper, gorgeous wooden decking arranged as three sides of a pentagon, sun loungers flat on the deck, all neutrals, greys and whites, the sea completing the picture with a blend of cobalt and teal. It’s a bit of the French rosé scene – a spot where the cool kids come to party.
4. Six Senses Kaplankaya
Carved out of the hillside, stepping down to several tranquil coves, Six Senses Kaplankaya consists of the main body of the hotel itself with some accommodation and pushes out to villas as well as residences for permanent inhabitants who share access to the hotel’s facilities. While seemingly vast, everything is generally in short walking distance or a buggy ride should the mood take you.
Designed by Clodagh Design and Foster + Partners, it all feels rather Bond-lair-esque: squat buildings clinging to the coast with flat roofs and wooden slatting letting light slant through. Staff, however, are a whole lot more welcoming than Goldfinger henchman “Oddjob” and the mood is one of cool and calm
5. Six Senses Kocatas Mansions
Few places could be more laid-back than the Six Senses Kocatas Mansions, which occupies two 19th-century palaces on the shores of the Bosphorus – one originally owned by the Ottoman empire’s grand vizier and the other by its minister of justice. After a period of fire and dereliction, the two mansions have been resurrected as an elegant 45-room hotel.
The guest rooms are large, bright and, like Istanbul itself, a harmonious blend of influences. In Sait Pasa mansion (the grand vizier’s, for those taking notes), the prevailing aesthetic is a restrained blend of Art Deco, mid-century and modern Scandinavian cues. Next door, Kocatas mansion (the justice minister’s) revels in full 19th-century garb. Polished walnut furniture and gilt-framed mirrors adorn intricately panelled and corniced walls. In both wings, the best rooms are at the front of the hotel, overlooking the Bosphorus.
Amanruya is all about understated opulence and relaxation. It’s restrained luxury, sensitively designed in an Ottoman style to create an intimate and yet grand village atmosphere. Upon arrival, the entrance sets the tone – a shrine, as it were, to hospitality. I feel a little like I’m in ancient Rome; there’s no technology, no buzzing or beeping and few people apart from the staff – the hotel has only 37 suites. Check in is done in-room so does away with the need for a typical front desk.
This is a hotel with standalone pavilions, each with its own striking pool. The difference between the accommodation comes down to the view – some have sea views, some garden and some up into the surrounding forested hills. The pavilions are generously sized and well-separated; each artery off the main hotel trail splits into two pavilions so it’s unlikely you’ll be bumping into your neighbours.
7. D-Resort Gocek
D-Resort Gocek has a laid-back atmosphere that makes it perfect for families with younger children. The landscapes are sprawling with small rocky islands and ocean that stretches as far as the eye can see. That feeling of openness translates into the hotel’s interior, with its high ceilings, wide corridors and huge open lobby.
The hotel is comprised of seven blocks with 102 rooms in six different categories. The maritime décor is a motif throughout, the bathrooms are spacious and options range from standard garden rooms to the premier suite with pool access for an extravagant stay.
Guests can hire the resort-owned speed yacht for an easy-going tour by the captain while sipping on champagne. Bikes can also be borrowed from the hotel for cycling to the privately-owned beach, while there’s also the option to reset at the small but well-equipped gym and wellness centre.
8. Cullinan Belek
Named after the largest rough diamond ever discovered, the Cullinan Belek on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast certainly sparkles. An easy hour’s transfer from Antalya airport, the resort is nestled between a white sand beach, a river and the imposing Taurus mountains.
The hotel has an impressive 600 rooms, all with a view of the sea. If you want to push the boat out, go for one of the ten luxury villas. We looked on enviously at the swim-up rooms, where guests can roll out of bed and straight into the water for the first dip of the day.
The Caresse, a Luxury Collection resort and spa which is part of the Marriott group, sits on Bodrum’s southern coast, a ten-minute ride from the main town itself and about 45 minutes from Milas International Airport.
Most of the seaward side of the hotel is glassed, looking out onto the sparkling sea; the view is magnificent and virtually boundless. Traditional wooden yachts and modern, zippy speedboats dot the water, fading to become tiny dots in the distance where the islands and looming hills begin. It’s epic scenery on a grand scale.
10. Hillside Beach Club
Unusually, the Hillside Beach Club is a perfect destination for both families and couples, with two adult-only beaches and a separate kids club sited far from the grown-up areas of the resort. The kids club itself is excellent, offering activities ranging from building your own robot to sailing classes. Run by enthusiastic staff, children are dropped off after breakfast and picked up at the end of the afternoon, leaving parents free to enjoy yoga, hiking, or simply some good old-fashioned sun worship.
There are plenty of places to lay your towel here, including two floating jetties, with cushioned sun-loungers and an on-call waiter who arrives at the touch of a button, and the main beach, where everyone is welcome, as well as the adult-only versions.
11. Club Marvy
Given a complete renovation in 2017, architect Fahrettin Aykut has helped transform Club Marvy from being an everyday style resort to a swanky beachside hideaway that is suited to couples and families alike. Built on an area of 180,000 sqm, it is home to three suites, 338 rooms (123 with a sea view), fantastic restaurants with super-fresh international and local cuisine, five bars, two pools and private beaches, a family section bursting with water slides, children’s buffet, a kids’ club, mini golf, babysitting service and magic shows.
Marvy also has an ace up its sleeve: the spa – a haven for harassed parents or couples without kids. I started every day here with sunrise yoga on the infinity pool deck, followed by a massage at the sea-facing Mar SPA and sauna with a 180-degree sea view.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.