Hotel Ibrahim Pasha

Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey Book from Eur79

A sophisticated small hotel in the heart of Sultanahmet, with tasteful Ottoman art and a fabulous roof terrace
Ibrahim Pasha was a prominent Grand Vizier of Turkey’s Ottoman period and the 16th-century palace he built stands beside the hotel that bears his name. His was a turbulent, traumatic life but his namesake is a tranquil, soothing respite from the bustle of Istanbul.

Enter and you’ll find a welcoming lobby with a glass-topped reception desk, where you'll be greeted courteously and given keys to your room. But wait: you might want to linger in a deep leather sofa by the fireplace and read a style magazine, or flick through one of the arty tomes on Istanbul’s past (owner Mehmet is a bit of a history buff). Or perhaps browse the bookshelves on the pale mustard walls of the library, with its Ottoman wall hangings and well-chosen antiques. No? In that case, head straight up the parquet square-spiral stairs to the striking roof terrace, with its mosaicked floor and eye-catching view of the Blue Mosque. It’s the hotel's real trump card, and relaxing up here after a day's sightseeing, with a slight breeze ruffling the plants, the sunset casting a pink glow over the Sea of Marmara and one of the world’s most fascinating cities spread out beneath you, is very special indeed.

Highs

  • A classy conversion of 2 19th-century Ottoman townhouses, with some nice touches in the 24 rooms: iPod docks, Molton Brown smellies, complimentary fruit and water, copies of Time Out Istanbul
  • A fantastic location, tucked away down a sidestreet but very close to the Hagia Sophia and the sights of Sultanahmet
  • Sweeping views of the Blue Mosque and beyond from the roof terrace, which has a bar in summer
  • Substantial and delicious buffet breakfasts, served 'til nearly noon
  • We loved the lounge: even in winter, fireplaces and candles keep it warm and cosy

Lows

  • Book early - it's often full!
  • Rooms are small, a little dark and, when we last visited in 2013, showing some signs of wear and tear - but the roof terrace, lounge and location more than make up for this
  • No restaurant, but staff have a well-researched list of local favourites and will make reservations for you
  • The morning call to prayer is a bit loud but seems to diminish throughout the day and there is virtually no street noise
  • A bit of a hike to the busier nightlife neighbourhoods such as Beyoglu

Best time to go

With its wealth of historic sights and wonderful restaurants, Istanbul is a year-round destination, although it can get very cold and damp in winter - a bit like London! Unlike London, it's very hot in the summer, so spring and autumn are the best times to visit for warm temperatures and sunshine.

Our top tips

Try and have a chat with the urbane owner Mehmet, who is often at the hotel. He knows Istanbul very well (try his 2-day walking tour) and is a good cultural source for the city.

Great for...

City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 24
  • Breakfast only (restaurants nearby)
  • 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
Room:

Rooms

The 24 bedrooms at Ibrahim Pasha continue the hotel’s air of elegance, with pale olive walls, Turkish carpets over hardwood floors, white leather or plush red armchairs, and silky throws and cushions in jewel-like tones. They can feel a little dark, however, so ask for a room on one of the higher floors to maximise light.

The Standard Rooms are rather small, and some overlook an internal passageway. We felt cocooned rather than cramped, but it’s worth upgrading to a Deluxe Room if you can. These are larger, with pale wood flooring, silvery embossed wallpaper and leather sofas. Some have separate sitting areas with daybeds, others a small terrace with a table and chairs for two. We especially liked the room with a petite balcony made of wrought-iron railings and a chunky glass floor.

All rooms come with flat-screen TVs, DVD players (there's a library of films to borrow downstairs), iPod docks/CD players, safe boxes, minibars, free WiFi, complimentary fruit and bottled water, and individually controlled air-conditioning and underfloor heating. Bathrooms are clad in beige tiles, with rain showers and Molton Brown toiletries. There’s no tea- or coffee-making equipment, but free hot drinks from reception are only a phone call away.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Complimentary fruit and bottled water
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Breakfast (included in the rates) is served from 7.30-11am, so there’s plenty of time to graze through the abundant buffet: local bread, sweet and savoury pastries (including a delicious spanakopita), creamy yoghurt, fruits, salads, cheeses, jams and honey, olives, cereals, eggs. Tea and coffee is brought to your table, and the dining room is a comfortable place to linger, with marble-topped tables, matt olive-green walls dotted with sepia-tinted photos, and an array of English-language magazines and newspapers to hand. The only slight downside is the fact that you have to pay extra for freshly squeezed orange juice.

Hot drinks are available throughout the day, and in summer a bar is set up on the roof terrace for sundowners-with-a-view, but no other meals are served at the hotel. Eating out is no problem in Istanbul, though, and staff can provide a well-researched list of restaurant recommendations.

They booked us into Rumeli Café, a renovated book bindery just a short stroll away. An unseasonably warm December meant we could sit outside, although the interior is cosy, with wood fires and hand-painted frescoes on the wall. We opted for a traditional starter of aubergine stuffed with tomatoes and onions, the rather melodramatically named Imam Bayaldi (The Imam Fainted”, apparently because the dish was so divine), and experimented with some Armenian and Kurdish dishes, including papaz yahnisi (a stew of lamb, potatoes and pumpkin cooked in a terracotta dish). On another evening, we headed over to Balikci Sabahattin (‘Sabahattin the Fisherman’) which, as the name suggests, specialises in grilled fish and seafood. It’s set in a traditional wooden house tucked away down a little alley, and was packed with locals when we visited.

For more upmarket eateries, as well as glamorous bars and clubs, take a tram or taxi over the Galata Bridge to Galata and Beyoglu, some of the liveliest areas of the city.

Features include:

  • Bar on the roof terrace in summer
  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Visit the Blue Mosque. You can already see this magnificent building from Ibrahim Pasha’s roof terrace, but make sure you view it close up to appreciate the delicately patterned blue Iznik tiles adorning the high-domed ceilings
  • Wander around the Hagia Sophia. Standing for 1,500 years, this iconic Christian church became a mosque in the 15th century and has been a museum since the 1930s. There are splendid Byzantium mosaics throughout its soaring interior
  • Explore the Topkapi Palace. This royal residence and the Ottoman Empire’s centre of government has an amazing collection of treasures, from jewels to robes. Be sure to take a tour of the harem, where up to 300 concubines lived at a time
  • Go shopping in the mall-like maze of the Grand Bazaar, or browse the boutiques and high-street shops that line the pedestrianised Istiklal Caddesi, over the Galata Bridge in Beyoglu
  • Drink and dance: Beyoglu is also Istanbul’s club central. Check out Nardis Jazz Club, Istanbul 360 (a cool rooftop terrace bar) and Babylon (world music)
  • Take a cruise up the Bosphorus - a wonderful way to see the city’s skyscape of ancient minarets and modern buildings. You can catch regular 2-hour cruises from the Eminonu dock
  • Visit the village of Sanyer, the main fishing port on the Bosphorus. It has a historic fish market and several good restaurants with views across the strait. Some cruise boats stop there, or you can make your way overground (it’s about half an hour outside Istanbul)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome and extra beds (where possible) are free, but there are no special rates for children in their own room. The hotel is really more suited to older children, as the atmosphere is quiet and there are antiques and fine furniture in the common rooms.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Some Deluxe Rooms have separate sitting areas with sofas that can be turned into a single daybed.

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
9/
Overall

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