A Long Weekend in Istanbul

The next time you go to Istanbul, you have to stay at the Neorion  Hotel. It’s currently ranked #1 on Trip Advisor, and it deserves the ranking. The ratings are not necessarily for the hotel’s appearance or its location (both are very good), but for the service of the staff. This hotel goes above and beyond at every opportunity.

We arrived in Istanbul about 7am and were at the hotel’s doorstep by 9am. Rather than telling us to come back at 2pm when check-in officially began, they simply invited us to enjoy a free breakfast in the restaurant while they finished cleaning our room. 30 minutes later we were blissfully resting in our room after a red-eye flight and gearing up to see the town.

In addition to their welcoming spirit, they want their guests to keep coming back. Each afternoon, the hotel puts out an entire buffet of free snack food to help you refuel after a long day seeing the sites. Then, once you’ve quieted your stomach, it’s time to soothe your parched lips with some complimentary wine on their rooftop terrace looking out over the city. It’s magnificent.

The hotel has three or four sibling properties, each with their own restaurant. While we might have missed out on the restaurants recommended by our guidebook, we were always more than happy at the hotel restaurants… and we got a 10% discount to boot.

Both of my visits to Istanbul have been whirlwinds, and I still don’t feel like I’ve really seen the city. In our long weekend, we barely scratched the surface by visiting the biggest landmarks. Much of the appeal in Istanbul is found in its backstreets and little alleyways.

Traveler’s Tip: Restauranteurs in Turkey can sometimes be a bit demanding when insisting that you come in and try their food. As we walked around the city, we repeatedly felt “harassed” by guys trying to talk us into eating a meal we had just finished eating elsewhere. They would stop you, show you their menu, and then go through some long story about how everyone loved their food and that they would offer us some special menu that was only for their best costumers. We tried every possible excuse to get them to leave us alone: “We just ate. We aren’t hungry right now. No thank you. GO AWAY!” In the end, however, we discovered the secret. Tell them you already have a reservation somewhere else. It seemed to be some kind of sacrosanct rule of restauranteurs that you don’t mess with someone else’s reservation. As soon as you utter those words, it’s like the Red Sea parts before you and you can go about your life again.

  • Blue Mosque
  • Blue Mosque
  • Blue Mosque
  • Blue Mosque
  • Inside the Blue Mosque
  • Inside the Blue Mosque
  • Inside the Blue Mosque
  • Aya Sofia from a Distance
  • Jesus Mosaic in the Aya Sofia
  • Inside the Aya Sofia
  • Inside the Aya Sofia
  • Vic and Beth at the Aya Sofia
  • Woman's Handprint
  • Ceiling of Aya Sofia
  • Beth in Istanbul
  • Gold Mosaic Ceiling
  • Decoration in the Topkapi Harem
  • Tiles in the Topkapi Harem
  • View of Bosphorus from Topkapi
  • Spire on Topkapi Harem
  • View of Istanbul from Topkapi Harem
  • Jesus Mosaic

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