When making holiday arrangements, our top priority after getting to our chosen destination is often the hotel. Some people just want cleanliness while others look for perks and facilities. We can choose all inclusive, B&B or room only. Another aspect affecting our choice is the theme and décor.
The travel industry of Turkey knows this, and in the last ten-year building spree of new hotels across the country, individuality is a top priority. Gone are the days of ordinary and boring rooms, dingy receptions, small swimming pools, and bland food. Hotel owners are now keen to stand out from the rest, while still offering comfort, practicality, and convenience.
Quirky and Unusual Hotels in Turkey
Luxury Ottoman Palaces and Mansion Hotels in Istanbul
The king of luxury travel in Turkey is the cosmopolitan metropolis of Istanbul. Rich and famous celebrities and executives adore the former capital-ruling centre, of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires.
Five-star restaurants serve sumptuous meals for the price of a month’s wages, while international brand names dominate the upscale streets of the Nisanti neighbourhood, where wealth is the buzzword.
The best luxurious hotels in Istanbul have also garnered an esteemed reputation for excellence. Catering for your every whim, professional staff of the hospitality industry helps you to live like a king for the right price.
Many International celebrities book into Les Ottomans, a boutique and stylish hotel on the shores of the Bosphorus. Having hosted famous people such as Donald Trump, Kylie Minogue, Ricky Martin, and Kevin Costner, word has spread about the intricate, detailed service Les Ottomans offers.
Using the tagline “excellence is our heritage,” the hotel was a former mansion for Mehmet Pasha who was a grand vizier during the 18th century for the Ottoman Empire. By the 20th century, though, this Yali mansion had become a coal warehouse before falling into disrepair.
In the 1980s, an extensive tourism renovation project brought it back to life by restoring as much of the original architecture and décor as possible. Each unique suite room screams of decadence and spa/wellness/Pilates and massages services are available at a click of the fingers. Prices vary depending on the exact level of luxury you want but you need to pay roughly 6,000 Turkish lira a night, to rest your head on their pillows.
The former Ottoman Ciragan Palace, belonging to the esteemed Kempinski chain of hotels, also has an interesting story to tell. Ottoman sultan, Abdulaziz, commissioned it in the 19th century, but most of it burned down in 1910.
The famous football team, Besiktas then used it as a stadium before it underwent a massive restoration project in 2007. Restored to its former baroque style architecture, its fame to claim is the elegant Sultan suite. Costing more than $30,000 a night, it is one of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world.
Live Like Fred Flintstone: The Cave Hotels in Cappadocia
Gaining worldwide recognition, the cave hotels of Cappadocia are not a gimmick, but a time honoured and historic method of living. Their story goes back thousands of years to when man first dominated the area.
Looking for shelter and warmth, they carved homes from the unique tufa rock, left behind by volcanic eruptions thousands of years before. When Christianity reached the area in the late 4th century, locals also carved churches into the stone.
Even after Ottoman domination in the 15th century, Christian Greeks stayed and used the caves and churches for many more years. Unfortunately, the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, ordered all Greeks to leave the area and the churches with their ancient frescoes fell into disrepair.
Around this time, cave homes also started crumbling, so the government ordered many people into fabricated housing. This is evident in small villages such as the old and new parts of Cavusin. In later years though, architects invented methods to make cave homes safe but also install modern features. By the time, tourism arrived in Turkey; Cappadocia became famous worldwide for its cave hotels.
One good example is the Castle Inn in the Ortahisar district. The owner while theming the rest of the hotel on a castle has kept an original cave room with fire and water well. He also installed Jacuzzi and heating, and honeymooners can book a luxurious suite with terrace looking over the Cappadocia landscape.
Back to Nature: Treehouse Hotels in Olympos
Olympos on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, near Antalya, embraced tourism back in the 1970s. Many young travellers following the hippie trail arrived in Olympos to stay at budget treehouse hotels promoting the mantra of being at one with nature.
Dormitory rooms of 5+ beds in a house in a tree are popular because of low prices, but washing and toilet facilities in the communal areas put many people off. In later years, hotel owners started to build private bungalows to get around this, but it misses the point of the themed accommodation.
If you are after luxury and your home perks, the atmosphere filled with young backpackers, wouldn’t be your first choice. In which case, the neighbouring one street village of Cirali offers a more personal experience.
Wooden Hotels of Uzungol and Ayder Plateau
Thick, dense forests surround Uzungol and the Ayder Plateau, in the Black Sea region. Therefore, locals who have a cultural heritage of living off the land, build wooden hotels and homes by hand. The result resembles an authentic home stay although, in recent years, travel publications are reporting that quicker and cheaper modern methods are slowly replacing this tradition.
My hotel in Ayder Plateau resembled a family home, making me feel uneasy as if I was intruding. It was only for one night, though, so I carefully navigated the rickety, steep, narrow wooden staircase to the top loft room that was so cold despite it being the middle of June. I remember thinking that if a fire broke out on the ground floor, my only hope of survival would be to jump out of the window, and if I were lucky, I would only break a few bones.
Yet, staying in the wooden Inan Kardesler Hotel of Uzungol was fantastic because the owners who were all brothers had carved everything from wood but also thought of practicality and modern luxuries.
Heating, satellite television and warm water was plentiful, and their passion for woodcraft was evident from the handmade ashtrays, mirror frames, bed frames, and doors. Outside in the courtyard, sat a complete handcrafted wooden car, proving their testament to a natural way of living.
Themed Hotels of Antalya
The Mediterranean Antalya region of Turkey has always been a prominent player on the country’s tourism scene. Excellence, commitment, and dedication to hosting foreign visitors have earned it a solid reputation as the second most visited destination in the country.
Hundreds of hotels accommodate thousands of yearly visitors, but one that grabs headlines is the Mardan Palace, often marketed as the most luxurious hotel in the world.
Quoting their themes and décor as a “return to the days of experiential luxury,” their aquamarine restaurant in the centre of the swimming pool has 3000 varieties of fish in the aquariums surrounding it. If you are not content with just looking at them, you can also book a session in the 1.6 millionaire litre Adventure Lagoon, to feed and swim with the marine life. That is also within the vast landscaped swimming pool that needs a gondola to get from one side to the other.
Imported sand from Egypt lines the private beach and throughout the décor; pure gold adorns staircases and bathroom taps. Such is the vast size of the hotel; Bollywood has filmed several movies there, and celebrities like Mariah Carey and Richard Gere attended the opening party. Unfortunately, news reports of poor money management leading to unpaid debts have overshadowed the hype and glitz.
Other themed hotels in the Antalya district include Queen Elizabeth, a resemblance of the famous cruise liner. The Titanic Resort Hotel is an iconic reminder of the famous ship that sank in 1912 while the Concorde de Luxe Hotel, reflects the plane of the same name. Clients of the Orange County Resort Hotel in Kemer also feel transported to Amsterdam because of themed windmills and impressive architecture.
Floating Hotels of the Turkish Riviera
When we think about unusual hotels in Turkey, the gulet boats of the Turkish Riviera are rarely mentioned. However, my experience of a 3-night stay on a gulet boat is one of my favourite travel memories.
I sailed the Mediterranean coast from Fethiye to Olympos. At night, I slept on deck, and in the morning, woke up to Caretta turtles swimming around the boat. For food, the crew caught fresh fish to cook on the BBQ, so it was from sea to plate in roughly 30 minutes and the onboard chef also prepared delicious meals made from fresh ingredients.
Every morning, we raised anchor to move along the coastline so every night, I slept in a different, beautiful destination. The list of pleasant memories goes on and one, and if you are looking for unusual hotels in Turkey, this is my top recommendation.