Some hotels have an ambiance that is so perfect for the locales in which they
are set and a comfort level that is so high that they are perennial favorites.
No matter that newer, more luxurious facilities spring up around them, they
remain like "home" to a loyal group of travelers. The Istanbul
Hilton, the pioneer of all of Turkey's luxury hotels, was built nearly 40
years ago at a time when tourism was not as strong an industry in the country
as it is today. To accommodate the increase in visitors, corporate incentive
travel, sales meetings and conventions, more rooms were constructed. Nevertheless,
the Hilton has held its own in popularity.
Although it opened in the mid 50s, management has kept up with the needs of the
90s guest. The executive floors offer special services for businesspeople and the
sports and health club facilities are first-rate. Because the grounds are so vast—the
hotel is set back from the street in a very central district—there is ample space
for tennis and squash courts, cabanas and a huge outdoor pool. There's an indoor
A trip to a Turkish bath (haman) is one of the nation's treats. A benefit
of staying at the Hilton is that you do not have to venture out to another part of
the city to a possibly unsafe haman. The circular-shaped marble bath is luxuriously
appointed and the
experience is a familiar one to those who visit spas. An attendant
scrubs you with a loofah and washes you with a bag filled with suds. Modesty towels
are provided for patrons.
The Harbiye district in which the hotel is situated is very convenient
for visiting Istanbul's major attractions. The vistas from the rooftop restaurant
and the rooms that face the Bosphorus offering a glimpse of the Asian
side of the city, convince one that Istanbul is truly among the most, if not
the most, beautiful metropolises on earth.
The Istanbul Hilton, Cumhuriyet Caddesi, 80200 Harriye, Istanbul. Tel. 800-445-8667.
It is hard to figure out why, but the Haci Baba restaurant, located
a few blocks from the hotel, is mentioned frequently in guidebooks and travel
articles. Most of the food is unappetizing and the place is filled with tourists.
Their brochure states, "Haci Baba Restaurant who is continuously developing
while giving his name to taste with the admiration of the public is proud of
serving you delicious traditional TURKISH MEAT FOOD types the wanderful (sic)
taste of which you will have the chance of tasting." Now, isn't that description
reason enough to stay away!
Haci Baba, Istiklal Caddesi, 49 Beyoglu, Istanbul. Tel. 011 90 212 244 18
86. Open seven days for lunch and dinner. Moderate.