Museum Hotel

Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey Book from Eur200

Reviewed by Sarah Gilbert
History and luxury go hand-in-hand at this unique cave hotel in Uchisar; perfect for rest and romance
Created from the restored ruins of an ancient village, carved deep into a cliff face years ago, the Relais and Chateaux Museum Hotel is a real one-off. It overlooks a breathtaking landscape of rose-coloured ravines, dramatic rock formations and the distant volcanic cone of Mount Erciyes; the views easily outshone the models from the Sports Illustrated calendar, who used the hotel as a backdrop in 2009.

Owner Omer is an antique collector, whose impressive collection of tapestries, furniture, robes and objets d’art from Roman and Ottoman times decorates the hotel’s maze of walkways and its 30 lavish cave rooms, hence the name. No 2 rooms are the same, but all are stunning, with vaulted ceilings, silk furnishings, mosaics, and marble bathrooms with jacuzzi tubs. Laze on the flower-filled terraces, swim in the the gorgeous infinity pool, and have alfresco massages with herbs and oils unique to Cappadocia. Men can have a daily shave from the barber’s chair with the world’s most beautiful view. But don't forget to tear yourself away for tours of this fascinating region: subterranean cities, cave monasteries and traditional markets all await.

Highs

  • We loved waking up to hot-air balloons drifting past our window; a sunrise flight is the best way to see Cappadocia’s incredible landscape
  • The fine-dining restaurant, with its classic and modern takes on Cappadocian cuisine
  • Magnificent views at every turn, and Cappadocia’s clear skies are perfect for stargazing
  • The Roman-style infinity pool - perfect for cooling down in the heat of the day
  • The pretty town of Uchisar, with its fairytale fortress, is a great base for exploring the region

Lows

  • It's pretty expensive
  • It’s easy to get lost in the hotel’s twists and turns when you first arrive
  • The area is so serene that the small amount of distant traffic noise can jar
  • The restaurant sometimes has a hushed, rather formal feel
  • The cheaper rooms don't have views, and 8 face interior corridors so are open to public view unless you have the shades down, in which case you have no natural light. Mention this when booking if you want to avoid these rooms

Best time to go

You can travel to Cappadocia all year round but winters are cold and summers are hot - April to June and September to November are the best months to visit. That said, the snow-covered landscapes of winter are beautiful, and open fires in the cave rooms keep things cosy and romantic. Urgup's annual International Wine and Grape Festival is held in October.

Our top tips

  • Climb to the top of Uchisar’s fortress just before sunset for spectacular views.
  • The local ladies on Uchisar’s main square sell traditional Anatolian headscarfs edged with beautiful hand-woven embroidery, which make great gifts.
  • Great for...

    Foodie
    Great Outdoors
    Honeymoon
    Wedding
    Eco
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Hotel
    • 30
    • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Concierge Service
    • Bicycles Available
    • Tours
    Room: Gulistan Junior Suite

    Rooms

    Each of the 30 cave rooms is carved into the tuff of the surrounding cliff face. The exposed rock of what were once dwellings and animal shelters is now covered with tasteful artwork, and antique kilims line the floors to keep things cosy.

    No 2 rooms are the same size or shape, and they are spread over several floors, but all are stunning so you'll be happy wherever you end up. One has ancient dovecotes peppering its walls, another has a historical spinning wheel, others have a marble fountain or an open fire. Reception will help you choose when you enquire. All are atmospherically lit, with comfortable queensize beds, marble bathrooms (most with jacuzzi tubs) and valuable artefacts throughout.

    Cheapest, but still spacious and luxurious, are the Deluxe Rooms. Upgrade to a Deluxe Suite for a bit more space and a sofa or soft leather armchairs. Junior Superior Suites and Superior Suites are larger still, and most have magnificent views. Top of the tree are the Spa Suites (a bedroom plus a massage room), and the 3 enormous Imperial Suites. One of these, the magnificent Sultan’s Cave Suite (90 sq.m), has a wine cellar for tastings, a 16th-century Cardinal’s altar, 2 bathrooms, and a stargazing window in its ceiling.

    Our Junior Superior Suite, Catalkaya, was super spacious, and had a separate living area with a soft leather sofa in front of a roaring fire. The huge bathroom had a double jacuzzi, a walk-in rain shower and fluffy white bathrobes. In the morning, we woke to see hot-air balloons drifting past the window, and we watched their progress from our small patch of garden, and later, the tub.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Bathrobes
    • Cd player
    • Central heating
    • Coffee tea making
    • Cots Available
    • Dvd player
    • Extra beds
    • Fan
    • Fireplace
    • Hairdryer
    • Internet access
    • Iron
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Phone
    • Radio
    • Safe box
    • Satellite tv
    • Terrace
    • Toiletries
    • WiFi
    • Wifi internet

    Eating

    The award-winning, fine-dining restaurant, Lil’a, is open every evening. It’s a candlelit room-with-a-view, with wooden floors and ceilings, pale stone walls adorned with rare textiles, and ornate wooden cabinets holding antique kaftans and exquisite jewellery.

    As well as international fare such as steak, and more typical Turkish dishes, Lil'a offers a range of traditional Cappadocian home-cooked dishes that are getting harder to find elsewhere. Vegetables and herbs are from the hotel’s organic garden, and served with a great selection of Anatolian wine. We loved the lentil soup, the meze of baby dolmades and the Nevsehir Tava, a recipe created by a native of Nevsehir at the beginning of the 1900s: lamb, pepper, garlic and tomato are cooked in a traditional casserole in a brick oven and served with rice pilaf.

    Picnics and romantic dinners à deux in the valley can be catered for, while the alfresco bar is perfect for a sunset cocktail or stargazing around the firepit.

    Buffet breakfasts are served in the light-filled dining room or on the sunlit terrace, with tables piled high with cheese, cold meats, cereals, fruit and pastries. We rounded off with tasty omelettes - the chef came over with a small gas burner and prepared them at our table.

    If you venture out, try sophisticated Elai in the shadow of the fortress. We took in the views from the terrace with a glass of local wine before feasting on tandir (lamb shanks) and Turkish crème brulée.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Coffee tea making
    • Cooking classes
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Restaurant
    • Restaurants nearby
    • Room service
    • Vegetarian menu
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Sightsee from a hot-air balloon at sunrise - it’s the best way to see Cappadocia’s incredible landscape and historical sites

    • Climb to the top of Uchisar’s natural rock citadel for spectacular panoramic views - it’s the tallest point in Cappadocia and can be seen from miles around

    • Don’t miss the Unesco World Heritage Site of Goreme Open Air Museum, with its rock-hewn churches covered in exquisite Byzantine frescoes

    • Take a walking tour of the surrounding area, go horse riding or mountain biking along valleys, or hike in the Ihlara Canyon, which is filled with cave monasteries, churches, pigeon houses and 1,000-year-old cave dwellings

    • Take a traditional cooking lesson with the hotel chefs, or indulge in an alfresco massage using oils and herbs from Cappadocia

    • Play cross-country golf, an unusual and eco-friendly alternative to traditional golf pioneered by the hotel

    • Take a day trip to explore the maze-like passageways of the ancient subterranean cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, constructed by persecuted Christians

    • Taste local wines in Urgup, at Turasan and Kocabag, 2 of the region’s most famous wineries

    • Barter for handicrafts, jewellery, carpets, kilims and textiles at Uchisar’s small market, and in Urgup and Goreme’s many boutiques

    • Watch a traditional Whirling Dervish Sema ceremony at Saruhan, an atmospheric former Silk Road caravanserai; reception can arrange

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Cooking classes
    • Golf
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Horse-riding
    • Hot air ballooning
    • Mountain biking
    • Museums / galleries
    • Private guided tours
    • Shopping / markets
    • Swimming
    • Traditional cultures
    • Well being
    • Wine tasting

    Kids

    The hotel welcomes families and is well kitted out for them, with extra beds, baby cots, family rooms, connecting rooms, babysitting and baby equipment

    Best for:

    Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    The Oriental Cave is recommended for families. Junior Superior Suites, Superior Suites and Imperial Suites can all fit 1 rollaway bed; some can fit 2; the smaller rooms can fit a baby cot. Some rooms interconnect; please ask when booking

    Babysitting:

    On request

    Baby listening:

    On request

    Baby equipment:

    Baby cots and highchairs

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

    Families Should Know:

    There’s no lifeguard so small children need to be supervised around the pool area and when climbing up and down the stone stairways throughout the hotel.

    Our guests' ratings...

    9/
    Rooms
    8/
    Food
    9/
    Service
    7/
    Value
    8/
    Overall

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