Pin me & save for later!
While there’s plenty of healthy debate as to which Istanbul neighborhood you should stay in, the ancient and perennial tourist favorite of Sultanahmet which is oversaturated with…you guessed it…tourists or in the “newer” part of the European side, Beyoğlu, which is home to the city’s more modern and trendier areas, I opted for the former. Although I definitely enjoyed the time I spent in Taksim Square on my private half-day tour of sights located outside of Sultanahmet (not to mention I missed out on visiting the famed Galata Tower), there’s no way I could go to a city as ancient as Istanbul and not stay in its oldest quarter which has borne witness to so much history. And through my food tour on the city’s non-touristy Asian side, I definitely got my share of authentic, non-tourist trap eating. Since the history nerd in me could care less about nightlife, the decision was easy.
Just as there are countless cave hotels to choose from in Cappadocia, the same can be said about small to medium size boutique hotels in Sultanahmet. Although I investigated numerous options, I ended up going with the Eresin Crown due to a personal recommendation from my brother who had stayed there in 2014 when he visited. The Eresin Crown is part of the Eresin Hotels group which manages three other hotels in Istanbul. But the Eresin Crown is the only one that features a private museum showcasing a cistern, mosaics, and countless other museum pieces dating from Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman times. That alone will undoubtedly make it one of the most unique places you could ever stay on a trip.
The hotel’s location
The Eresin Crown is located on a main drag in Sultanahmet (Küçük Ayasofya) which makes it a five minute walk from the Blue Mosque, a few more minutes to reach Hagia Sofia, and around 10-12 minutes to reach Topkapi Palace. You also have the option of passing through the Arasta Bazaar to reach those sites which was always fun to do, especially since I didn’t feel any of the sellers there were overly obnoxious with their badgering you to stop and purchase their wares.
The food options located on Küçük Ayasofya are definitely more on the “miss” side of hit or miss although I did have a good pide from Doy Doy which is just a block away. And after my very long day trip to Gallipoli, it was nice to just go across the street for some food.
I don’t have the name of it (and it doesn’t come up on Google Maps either when doing street view) but there was a quality ceramics store located on the same block as the hotel going away from the Blue Mosque. The owner (or worker) was open to bartering and for $100 USD I walked away with a bevy of beautiful ceramics and a small desk-size Turkish lamp.
Check-in/front desk experience
My flight didn’t land in Istanbul until midnight and by the time I got my bags, passed through immigration, and then dealt with a slight mix-up regarding the ground transfers I had booked, I didn’t make it to the hotel until nearly 2 in the morning (it’s also a 40 minute drive from the airport to Sultanahmet).
Even though I got to the hotel so late (that was by far the latest I’ve ever arrived at a hotel, especially in a foreign locale), I didn’t feel unnerved at all. To my surprise there were still a fair amount of (normal) looking people on the streets that the car passed by. There was of course a desk clerk on duty when I arrived. I did find that the hotel workers who had the unglamorous graveyard shift definitely knew the least amount of English.
But every time coming and going into the hotel, every worker on duty always gave a pleasant and kind greeting and the really nice extra touch was that cold sandwiches were delivered to the room shortly after checking in. I had requested a little something since my flight got in so late and most eateries would be closed. I wasn’t sure if this email request would be remembered and fulfilled but it was.
I ended up booking an exclusive room which was the next grade above the standard one. The room was adequate but both the bed portion and the bathroom could stand some updating; the furnishings and overall look appeared old and worn. But WiFi was free, there was a small fridge that I kept bottles of water in (it’s advised against drinking the water in Turkey, even for brushing your teeth, but the staff was always amenable with my requests for more bottles and never charged extra either) and most importantly, there was air-conditioning which I feel is an absolute must during the warmer weather in Istanbul.
The room overlooked Küçük Ayasofya but as Sultanahmet can be very dead at night once the famous historic attractions are closed and the mass big bus groups have departed, noise was never an issue. Even the call to prayer, which sounds five times a day, never really bothered me or woke me up in a jarring fashion.
There is a restaurant on-site. In the warmer weather it seems the restaurant operates on the terrace and in the colder months in a space right off of the lobby/check-in area. Many buildings in Istanbul have beautiful terraces and the one at the Eresin Crown is no exception. It offered the most magnificent views of the Marmara Sea and the Blue Mosque.
The restaurant menu isn’t the most extensive but it offers a variety of both Turkish and more Western/continental fare. Being my first (true) night in Turkey, I went with ordering manti (Turkish-style ravioli) and lots of Turkish çay. And a surprisingly delicious chocolate molten lava cake, which naturally was the perfect complement to my çay.
I never ate breakfast there so I can’t comment on that.
Since my flight got in so late, I ended up booking transfers directly through the hotel which they then arranged. It was steep (for Turkish prices) at 120 euros but worth it, all things considered. For my Cappadocia flight which was in the late morning, I just booked a transfer through a company I had found online at a fraction of the cost.
Although tourism has somewhat rebounded since the devastating barrage of terrorist attacks in 2016, you can tell the industry is not what it used to be. Although the Eresin Crown is a boutique hotel and on the smaller side, I saw very few other guests while I was there, which you don’t necessarily expect from a hotel that’s located right in a major tourist area. Obviously I won’t complain about that since the alternative of having noisy and rude guests is something I never want; it was just an odd experience.
All in all, my stay at the Eresin Crown was a positive one at a reasonable rate (it was 144 euros a night for the exclusive room) with the helpful and kind staff definitely being one of the best parts.