If you prefer an urban retreat to a bolthole right in the thick of the action, Sumahan on the Water is the boutique hotel for you. Located on the less hectic and touristy Asian side of Istanbul, it manages to be both highly trendy and cosily inviting.
On the first count, industrial touches (high ceilings and steel cross-beams) are a nod to the building’s former function as a distillery which brewed raki, the Ottomans’ favourite tipple, in the 19th-century. On the cosiness score, the library by reception is stuffed full of coffee table books on Istanbul’s rich Ottoman and Byzantine past – a perfect distraction whilst waiting for the boat across the Bosphorus – and a wood-burning fire makes it an even more snug stay in the winter months.
All 20 rooms have been designed to make the most of the breathtaking views of the Bosphorus and the European side of the city (which you also get to enjoy on your glamorous and romantic arrival by boat). The duplex Loft Suites have large picture-windows looking out onto the Bosphorus Bridge and private, lawned terraces for sunning yourself. Ask for one of the four with their own mini-hammam – they’re called Ortakoy, Kurucesme, Arnavutkoy and Emirgan.
In contrast with a lot of design hotels, the staff at Sumahan on the Water are absolutely stellar. They couldn’t be more helpful when it comes to helping guests navigate the rich heritage of the Old Town and the night manager Nural gets top marks for his excellent recommendations for dinner, drinks and dancing in town.
- Those breathtaking views of the Bosphorus
- The smiley, helpful staff
- The coffee table books in the library
- The tranquil boat ride on the hotel’s private launch, Sumahan I – beats a cab in gridlocked traffic any day
- Free private parking and internet access
- Sumahan I makes only three crossings a day so you need to make plans and stick to them
- The size of the spa and hammam
Need to Know: Sumahan on the Water
Number of rooms: 20
Check-in/check-out times: 3pm and 11am
Room service: Yes. 24 hours
Swimming pool: No
Spa: Yes. The Wellness spa is beautiful but the hammam is only big enough for one guest (or couple) and there’s just one treatment room so you need to book ahead.
Dogs welcome: No
Eating & drinking: Kordon Restaurant next door is seriously glamorous and serves traditional seafood dishes a la carte. The Waterfront Terrace offers a more casual dining experience and is the perfect spot for sundowners.
Near to? Nothing of any great note. But its detachment is part of the charm. The pleasant local neighbourhood of Cengelkoy with its old wooden houses, fish restaurants and seaside promenades – a totally un-touristy side to the city – is within walking distance of the hotel.
Getting there: Sabiha Gokcen is about an hour’s taxi ride from the city, while Ataturk International is roughly a 30-minute taxi journey from the hotel depending on the traffic. While getting to Sumahan at first can be a difficult, the hotel’s private boat, Sumahan 1, runs guests into Kabatas, twice in the morning and then again in the evening. From Kabatas it’s a short metro ride (or cab) into the Old Town of Sultanahmet.