In the middle of the Besiktas neighborhood, sit the historic Akaretler Row Houses. Peering at their curved facades, one can deconstruct their current perfection and see how it was a developer’s dream. The neighborhood has now been transformed into one of the city’s trendiest areas, where you will find every elite boutique from Etro to Missoni. Direct in the middle of this shoppers mecca lays the absolutely wonderful, very stylish, and surprisingly accessible W Hotel Istanbul.
Besiktas, and the W, is situated well away from the chaos of the main tourist areas, but close enough for easy access. Be prepared to taxi in and out of ‘town’ for the sites and nightlife. Luckily, the cabs are not so pricey as to make the fare uncomfortable – our average ride to/from the W was about 15 -25 minutes and cost between 8 -& 20 YTL (About $6-15). The Ferry is right down the hill, 3 blocks away, and offers an exciting water journey downtown to Sultanhamet and the Hagia Sophia. Boats leave every twenty minutes before 10 am and every hour from then on. One thing you learn early is that all travel in Istanbul is highly traffic dependent, you learn to avoid rush hours quickly- the boats are your best bet for those times. It is also within walking distance to the Dolmabahçe Palace, the seat of the Ottomans from 1856 through 1924.
The W itself is a real jewel designed by Mahmut Anlar of the design firm Geomim. It manages to stay just on the side of fun & chic, without crossing over into ostentatious and euro trashy. I believe this is the result of the excellent staff- which manages to keep everything grounded and never slipped into any type of haughtiness while we were there (5 days). On the weekends a trendy crowd comes to the party in the upstairs bar- that looks to have lovely outdoor seating, which was unfortunately closed during our stay. Guests are invited to join the party, and we were never made to feel uninvited.
An interesting fact is that W Hotels are a franchise, not a chain. Thus each W is independently owned and managed- leading to varying experiences between locations. The slogan is “Whatever/Whenever,” and the staff at the W Istanbul certainly took that to heart! The service was impeccable; from the front desk to the attentive doormen (who make sure you don’t get taken advantage of by taxi drivers, the concierge staff is a fountain of useful information and charm and everyone has a genuine smile on their face.
The rooms are beautifully decorated and fully decked. The beds were very comfortable (you can order one of the room service menus!). Excellent water pressure gave a loving hot shower. The programmed lighting is a delightful touch- ranging from reading, sleeping, and the all-important ambient mellow lounge look ;)
The W’s in-house restaurant was one of the Spice Market chains that have a menu created by Jean-Georges. It is a bit overpriced, as you would expect, but offers quality food. A find for us was the late-night room service menu that had excellent pasta!
In the lobby, there is a quite comfortable lounge area known by the moniker “Sip”, located opposite reception, behind beaded curtains. Decorated with comfortable couches and settees; a place where you can relax with a tea and surf with the free Wifi. Jump next to the hotel for an acceptable coffee from the ever-present “Cafe Nero” for an option to the overpriced hotel breakfast.
Having stayed in many hotels, including a few W’s, I must say that the W Istanbul deserves all the accolades it gets. It successfully manages to merge old-world service with fun decor, which combines to create an experience that is at the same time relaxing, exciting, welcoming and exotic! Kudos.
W Hotel Istanbul
(90) 212 – 381 2121
Suleyman Seba Cad No. 22, Akaretler, Beşiktaş
Istanbul 34357 · Turkey