Çiragan Palace Hotel Kempinski Istanbul Residence of the last Ottoman sultans, the hotel that you see today is actually two buildings: the faithfully restored stone-and-marble sultan's palace (housing the VIP suites) and the modern five-star deluxe hotel, both standing majestically on the shores of the Bosphorus and presiding over a magnificent collection of sculpted lawns, marble gates, a waterside swimming pool, and even a putting green.
The guest list reads like a who's who of international royalty, all lining up for a Bosphorus-view room (not all get one).
Standard rooms are nothing special really (except in the case of the ones with Bosphorus views, where you can forgive the room thanks to the scenery). Decor is sparse, and the full list of amenities is not enough to distinguish these rooms from, say, the Hilton.
The suites in the modern wing add living space, upgraded decor, and views, but it's in the newly renovated palace section where things truly get interesting.
These are salons that recall a statelier time: Sumptuous textiles swath elegant antiques, while high ceilings and gilded architectural features remind you that this was indeed once a working palace.
Hard to believe that a little over a decade ago, the Çiragan was a burned-out shell of its current and former splendor.
800/426-3135 in the US; 800/363-0366 in Canada, 0800/868-588 in the UK; 800/623-578 in Australia, 0800/446-368 in New Zealand, 0212/258-3377 in Istanbul