Ah Istanbul! The mystical land of sultans, spices, dervishes, magnanimous mosques, and everything in between. It was my 8th or 9th time in Istanbul when I checked into Kempinski Ciragan Palace Hotel. Although I have seen the hotel many times from the outside, I have never actually been in it before. Visitors of Istanbul who have taken the popular Bosphorus boat tour would recognize it as the palace with a swimming pool right on the water.
Kempinski Ciragan Palace Hotel is a member of DISCOVERY Loyalty, an incredible hotel loyalty program that covers 550 hotels in 76 countries. By joining DISCOVERY Loyalty, you immediately start earning perks at places like Kempinski Ciragan Palace Hotel. My favorite perks are early check in and late check out which come in handy for those flights with weird timings.
With its unique location by the Bosphorus, the Kempinski Ciragan Palace Hotel is an oasis in a very busy city that just keeps getting busier with more traffic. I cannot think of too many things that beat the experience of sitting on your balcony or one of the hotel’s restaurants sipping a cup of tea or coffee while watching the ferries criss cross the waters between Europe and Asia.
The Kempinski Ciragan Palace Hotel has a total of 310 rooms, including 279 rooms and 20 suites in the main hotel section and 11 suites in the imperial palace section, with impeccable design that the Kempinski brand is known for. It has 4 restaurants, bars, and lounges.
As usual with my hotel reviews, I won’t bore you with the factual details which you can find on the hotel’s website, but I will list some of the reasons this stay was unique compared to other places in Istanbul.
1. The staff and service: Those who have been to Istanbul know how difficult it is to find a hotel with a genuinely friendly and helpful staff. Those who are planning to go, you’ve been warned! With Kempinski Ciragan Palace Hotel on the other hand, it’s a completely different story. The staff have obviously been very well trained to go over and beyond to make every guest feel special and very welcomed. No request is too much and no preference is overlooked for these wonderful ladies and gentlemen. Special thanks to Sinan and Zeki at the concierge and Nur and all the Ladies in Red for their contagious energy and smiles.
2. The history: Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to live a sultan’s life even for just a few days. With its location inside the Ciragan Palace, the hotel offers you the chance to relive some of that history. The exterior of the hotel is well maintained while the interiors have obviously been redecorated while keeping a historical touch wherever you look whether in the lobby or inside the rooms.
3. The breakfast: Ah my favorite meal of the day and the one I am particularly judgmental about. The breakfast here had EVERYTHING and I mean everything you could ask for for breakfast. From the wide variety of cheese, eggs, and sausages to an even wider variety of fresh juices, desserts, and fruits. Everything is presented so well that you’d be tempted to try it all. I haven’t had lunch or dinner at the hotel but if they’re at the same level with breakfast, you are in for a treat.
4. The Local Experience: As a black level member of DISCOVERY Loyalty, I had the opportunity to choose one of Local Experiences offered by the hotel. What are Local Experiences you may ask? All the hotels under the DISCOVERY Loyalty programme have a carefully-tailored selection of excursions exclusively made for DISCOVERY Loyalty members. These experiences are free depending on your level of membership. The Experiences range from helicopter rides in Dubai and cooking lessons in the Maldives to wine tasting in Beirut and massage treatments in Thailand. Joining DISCOVERY Loyalty is free and you can start earning perks as soon as you join. The one I chose at Kempinski Ciragan Palace Hotel was a tour of one of the local markets where I scored bags of spices and some fresh fruits. I was the only tourist there so that should give you an idea of how local the experience is.
5. Location: The location of Kempinski Ciragan Palace Hotel cannot be faulted really — the peace and quiet away from the city yet in the heart of it all. The hotel offers you a unique opportunity to experience the tourist area of Ortakoy on foot and the hidden gem that is Arnavutkoy is a short bus ride away. Also very close by is the lively center of the Besiktas area and its ferry terminal which takes you in 10 minutes to the Asian side and the famous Maiden Tower. The hotel is also very close to Taksim and Galata Tower, two tourist hotspots as well.