Ajia Hotel

Kanlica, Istanbul, Turkey Book from Book from £212 per night

A historic waterside mansion transformed into a contemporary boutique hotel offering fab rooms, a terrace restaurant and cool bar

On the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, this uber cool hotel is a slick conversion of a 19th century yali - the palatial summer mansions of the Ottoman elite. The location is a little off the beaten track (a half-hour drive, north of Sultanahmet, in a green sub-urban village best known for local yoghurt), but that was, and still is, the general idea: to provide an escape from the heat and hurly-burly of the old city. And this place, all stylish modernism and crisp clean lines, has helped make out-of-town Istanbul fashionable again.

Behind an original façade (a dazzling white confection of neo-classical pillars and pediments), the interior is a geometry of dark wood and creamy marble, glass and steel, light and shade. There is a vast lobby, almost bare but for arum lilies, white orchids, off-white chairs and sunlight; there is a romantic restaurant right on the waterfront; and 16 rooms on three floors (most of which have wonder-ful views). A private boat waits to ferry you across the blue water, but, really, why go anywhere?
Covid update: see our Flexible Booking Policy.


  • A grandstand view of life on the Bosphorus waterfront - an endless procession of fishing boats and ferries, tankers and cruise ships en route from the Marmaris to the Black Seas
  • Glamorous dinners on the terrace at sunset
  • A skilful combo of historic architecture and contemporary design
  • Light spacious rooms in soothing shades of neutral


  • It’s a long hike to Old Stamboul, the hub of the city, though the location is a plus for those who want to see its cleaner, greener side
  • It's a little expensive, but you are in a former pasha's home
  • Popular with party throwers, it can be a little rowdy on the terrace at weekends
  • The air conditioning is not as efficient as it should be

Best time to go

With temperatures soaring in the summer months (June - September), and freezing in winter, spring and autumn are the best times to visit, though Istanbul is an all-year-round destination.

Great for...

  • Boutique Hotel
  • 16 rooms
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service


There are just 16 of them, ranging from a Deluxe Park View room (which basically overlooks the road) to the Bosphorous Pasha Suite (63m² of waterside luxury with the mansion’s only original balcony). Each one is different, though all are described as deluxe and all feature a wide range of gadgets and comfortable beds. Like the rest of the hotel, the décor is clean, uncluttered and predominately neutral, though warm, natural wood floors, and the odd mauve deep-pile rug, provides a lift of colour - as does the sparkling blue waters of the Bosphorus seen from most of the bedroom windows.

Our favourites were the 3 Mezzanine Suites: split level with sofas and a steel staircase leading up to a bed-deck furnished with free-standing roll-top tub. The Bosphorus Deluxe Suites are the most impressive: one has 7 ceiling-height windows overlooking the water. And the Terrace rooms are a cosy option without breaking the bank; each opens onto a small private roof terrace with great views.

The bathrooms, too, vary - some have showers, some have baths, some have both. A few have tubs-for-two with Bosphorus views. All are lined with marble and creamy mosaic tiles and furnished with trays of Molton Brown toiletries, thick cotton towels, bathrobes and slippers.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • DVD player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Satellite TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi


For a romantic dinner à deux, the location doesn’t get much better than this: a candlelit table, crisp white linen, right on the water’s edge. There are further tables inside in a more formal dining room with views of the water.

The menu majors on modern Mediterranean cuisine and though it’s a little pricey, the food is beautifully presented and the portions generous. Our cod fishcake starter, served with spinach and tartar sauce, could easily have made a light main course with side orders. Typical dishes include slow-cooked lamb shanks, sea bass with citrus-baked fennel, octopus carpaccio and, for dessert, chesnut soufflé with coconut parfait. A good choice of Turkish, European or World wines and cocktails are served on an upper terrace bar area.

Breakfast (available until 11am) is a nouvelle cuisine version of the traditional Turkish breakfast, with each of the components (white cheese, olives, tomato, honey, yoghurt) presented in dinky little bowls on a wooden tray with warm brioche-like rolls.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service


  • Explore the neighbourhood: Kanlica (10-15 minutes' walk) is a charming Bosphorus village of local shops, wooden Ottoman houses and a ferry terminal
  • Take a trip to Emirgan, on the other side of the water, a 4-minute crossing in the hotel’s courtesy boat. Here you can visit the Sapik Sabanci Museum, one of Istanbul’s foremost art galleries. Or take a taxi to Nisantasi for designer shopping, Ortakoy for boutiques and waterside cafés, or Bebek, another trendy Bosphorus village
  • Take a taxi, a ferry or a private car to Sultanahmet, the heart of Istanbul and home to one of the richest concentrations of ancient relics in the world; among them are the Suleymaniye and Sultanahmet (or Blue) Mosques, Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace
  • Go shopping: From the haggles of the Grand Bazaar to the high-street stores that line the Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul is a shopaholic's dreamland.
  • For night-life, restaurants, art galleries, café-bars and oodles of atmosphere head for the back streets of Beyoglu
  • Closer to the home, you can visit the the Beylerbeyi Palace: the magnificent 19th century imperial residence of Sultan Abdulaziz is only 10-minutes away (and open every day except Monday)
  • Other sights on the northern Bosphorous include: Kucuksu Kasri (a small rococo palace), Hidiv Kasri (an art nouveau villa), and Rumeli Castle; all are 5 minutes away by boat

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets


Children are catered for but the atmosphere - and clean, hard-edge décor - is perhaps a little too cool to be truly child-friendly. For young children in particular, the close proximity to the water’s edge might be a worry.

Family friendly accommodation:

Every room has space for an extra bed and baby cot.


Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:


The hotel is in the Bosphorus suburb of Kanlica, on the Black Sea side of the Golden Horn (5-minutes north of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge).

By Air:
Istanbul has 2 airports - Istanbul Airport (50km) and Sabiha Gökçen (15km). Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving them.

For the airport
It's a 45-50-minute taxi ride from Istanbul airport and about a 45-minute journey from Sabiha Gökçen, though the journey can take much longer during rush hour. Alternatively the hotel can arrange transfers, see Rates.

Transfers from city centre
There is a 40-minute journey by taxi from Beyoglu or Sultanahmet, via the Ataturk Bridge. Or you can take a 25-30 minute taxi ride to Emirgan, on the European side of the Bosphorus where the hotel’s free boat shuttle is available by prior arrangement. These can also be booked through the hotel, though they are more expensive (see Rates).

Detailed directions will be provided when you book through i-escape.

More on getting to Turkey and getting around


  • Istanbul Airport 50.0 km IST
  • Sabiha Gökçen 15.0 km SAW


  • Beach 20.0 km
  • Shops 1.0 km
  • Restaurant 1.0 km

Rates for Ajia Hotel

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