Terrace Houses

Sirince, Aegean Coast, Turkey Book from

Delightfully restored cottages, in the leafy hill town of Sirince, near Ephesus
This place charmed us to bits. Why? Firstly, the houses: a cluster of 19th century cottages built by the Greeks before they abandoned this pretty hill town, and restored with lashings of love and personality by Anglo-Turkish owners Charlotte and Omer. You'll find reclaimed marble basins and claw-footed tubs, vast sleigh beds and snuggly sleeping lofts, cool Chinese lanterns and wrought iron chandeliers, strings of drying red peppers in the kitchens and clutches of fresh pink oleander by the bedside. These are cosy homes with character and history (which Omer can, if you want, tell you all about).

Secondly, the town: Sirince (pronounced shirinjé) is a cool, pine-ringed Eden perched 500m above (and several degrees below) stifling Seljuk and concrete Kusadasi. Admire stately crumbling townhouses, explore cool footpaths, barter for lace doilies, fruit liqueurs and painted ceramics with the gentle townsfolk - one of whom, the charming Aysel, serves silver-domed dinners and savoury breakfasts on the magical terrace. Oh, and one more reason: you're just 10km from the eastern Med's most impressive ancient city, Ephesus.

Highs

  • Its proximity to Ephesus is reason alone to stop over here; but come for a week, explore the beaches of Dilek and the markets of Tire, and you will really get under the skin of this fascinating area
  • You could not feel better cared for: Omer and Charlotte offer fresh elderflower juice on arrival, all manner of sightseeing advice, and personal introductions to Sirince's most trustworthy shopkeepers
  • Skip the self-catering: breakfast sets you up for the day, and the baked aubergines, stuffed peppers and tragana suppers round it off perfectly
  • The Clockmakers cottage can be booked exclusively or by the suite; allowing flexibility

Lows

  • Some cruise-boat coaches visit Sirince for lunch and souvenir-hunting, but mornings and evenings are all yours
  • The lanes round here are donkey-sized, not for the fainthearted and you can't drive to the front door
  • Rooms are snug and a bit wonky, but that's part of their charm (and of the strict preservation laws)
  • This is village living: no swimming pools, high-tech kitchens or TVs, but you do get WiFi, CDs and books
  • The Garden House is suitable for ages 10+ only

Best time to go

Spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) are ideal for, respectively, wild flowers and leafy hillsides, and warm seas without the crowds. Summer is also quite pleasant up here (500m altitude), though you do get more day trippers. And don't rule out winter: all houses have heating.

If you do come in winter, try and coincide with the January camel wrestling competition (no kidding) in Ephesus' ancient theatre: after processing through Selcuk to musical accompaniment, pairs of ceremonially decorated male camels wrestle for a female in heat!

Our top tips

Stay for anything from 3 days to a week, depending on whether you just want to visit Ephesus (allow the best part of a day for this, plus a day of leisure in and around Sirince), or to explore the area in depth.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Cottages
  • 4 cottages
  • Seasonal meals + basic self-catering
  • 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
  • Cooking lessons
Room: Garden House

Rooms

Grapevine is the largest cottage and slightly more secluded than others (its setting allows residents to drive right to the door). A suitably vine-shaded terrace overlooks a leafy garden and a covered walkway divides the sitting room from the rest of the house, where a cosy kitchen awaits. The vast shower room is reminiscent of a hammam with cushioned seating, widely spaced basins and cymbal-sized shower beside a smooth marble wall. Upstairs the bright main bedroom’s panelled walls evoke a wooden rood-screen. Across the way is a second bedroom with twin wrought-iron beds and a ladder up to a snug kids' lair.

Fig, a stone's throw above the terrace café, has 2 bedrooms and 4 handsome shuttered windows looking out over the town. You enter via a private, fig-shaded terrace (set on 2 levels) and inside there’s a lovely ground-floor living-dining room with kitchenette (the smallest of all the houses). Leading off it, the bathroom is a good size with a claw-footed tub and a beautiful marble basin.

Clockmakers cottage, next to Olive, can be rented exclusively or by floor. Upstairs is the Harem Suite, which has a generous bedroom with sliding doors to the bathroom - gorgeous claw-foot tub. It has no cooking facilities but there is a small roof terrace. Downstairs the open-plan Hamam Suite features a large bedroom with steps up to a kitchen area, and a separate marble shower room.

Garden House is in keeping with the general tone of the houses but feels a little more modern. The comfy open-plan living-dining area has a well-equipped kitchen and a beautiful wooden staircase. Upstairs, each of the 2 double bedrooms has an ensuite shower or bathroom.

Olive is a 2-bedroom house is next to the main terrace (available winter only). Inside, a well-equipped kitchen and cosy sitting room offer thick stone walls and a hearty fireplace. The master bedroom has a grand four-poster bed, but the second bedroom is small, so we’d say it’s best for couples. The bathroom is downstairs, and features a limestone-faced wet room and unexpected corner tub and lions-head spout.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Radio
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Sitting down at the candlelit terrace table for dinner, with the sun setting behind an amphitheatre of tiled townhouses, and a gleaming spread of painted ceramic plates in the foreground, we knew that self-catering had gone out of the window. Aysel, the smiling magicienne of the kitchen, lifted the lids and - hey presto! We were assailed by delicious wafts of haloumi salad with pomegranate dressing, stuffed peppers, samphire, butter beans with tomato, fresh tzatziki and local bread (baked in the village). The beauty of mezze is that even if there's one dish you don't like, there are 5 you will (but, since they discuss menus with you, that's unlikely). Just remember to request dinner a day in advance.

Breakfast fresh and savoury - nothing fancy, just carefully sliced tomatoes and cucumbers sprinkled with oregano, crumbly cökelek cheese, ramekins of olives and jam, warm corn bread and brioches, plus Aysel's irresistible menemen (scrambled eggs with pepper and tomato). If that doesn't fuel you through Ephesus, nothing will.

Each cottage does have a kitchen, but given the terrace café’s delicious offerings (in season), we ended up preparing little more than the occasional coffee and snack. Note that the Harem suite lacks any cooking facilities, Clockmakers has no indoor dining area, and Fig only has a small kitchenette, but other than that all houses have well-equipped kitchens for when culinary inspiration does strikes.

If you fancy eating out, Sirince has lots of restaurants, from the pretty terrace of Ocakbasi to the grander Artemis, housed in an old school on the edge of the village. Ask Charlotte and Omer for their latest recommendations.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity: Ephesus Athena Temple

Activities

  • Ephesus is what you've probably come for, and it's worth every mile of the journey: a huge rambling ruin of a 2500-year-old city which once stood on the seashore, boasting a huge theatre, the famous Roman Celsus library façade, fabulous villa mosaics, and countless temples, statues and monumental gates. Allow at least half a day
  • The Magnesia ruins are smaller and a bit further away, but similarly fascinating and much quieter
  • The nearest decent beach is at Pamucak, 5km beyond Ephesus - sandy, shallow and child-friendly, with drinks, snacks and showers available at the Dereli campsite
  • But, if you have the energy, it's worth driving the extra 45 minutes to Dilek peninisula and national park, which has 4 secluded, pebbly beaches and signed hiking trails through dense pine forests and across a mini-canyon
  • In and around Sirince, you can take a cooking lesson, go pony trekking, take a ride on a tractor, follow footpaths past fields and friendly farmers to the headspring, taste fruit liqueurs and browse beautiful ceramics
  • Midway from Sirince to Ephesus is the town of Selcuk: stop to visit the 6th-century basilica of St. John the Apostle, the museum (if you're keen), and the storks nesting on telegraph poles
  • Nearby is House of the Virgin Mary, a popular pilgrimage for devout Christians and Muslims alike

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Windsurfing

Kids

Children are welcome; Turkey is a very child friendly and there is a very safe beach at Pamucak (25km).

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Olive and Fig would suit a couple with 1 or 2 children, while Grapevine and Clockmakers (exclusive rental), could take 3 or even 4 children at a squeeze. The Harem Suite can fit an extra child.

Baby equipment:

Baby cot available on request

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

Families Should Know:

The Garden House is suitable for ages 10+ only. There is 1 cot available but bear in mind that the houses are not really toddler-proof: no doors on the stairs, some stone edges etc.

Kid Friendly: Fig

Our guests' ratings...

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

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