Quest to Istanbul and Hong Kong, Part 5: InterContinental Istanbul

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: TPA-ORD on United
Part 3: ORD-ZRH on Swiss
Part 4: ZRH-LHR on Swiss and LHR-IST on Turkish
Part 5: InterContinental Istanbul
Part 6: Istanbul
Part 7: IST-HKG on Turkish
Part 8: InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong
Part 9: InterContinental Hong Kong
Part 10: Hong Kong
Part 11: HKG-BKK-MUC on Thai
Part 12: MUC-ZRH-JFK on Swiss
Part 13: JFK-TPA on Delta


Prior to our arrival in Istanbul, our reservation showed that we were upgraded to a “Bosphorous Suite,” as opposed to the standard Royal Ambassador upgrade to a Bosphorous view club room (which is already a good upgrade in my book). This was presumably as a result of high occupancy levels over our stay at the InterContinental Istanbul. We booked our room as part of the great Friends & Family promotion, which cost us a mere 110 Euro/night.

We arrived at the hotel at around midnight and were promptly checked in for our suite on the 16th floor. The lobby was very nice and elegant, with an airy feel due to the high ceilings and very nice appointments. It had lots of seating in the lobby, where it was fun to sometimes sit during the day and watch people.

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Hotel exterior

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Lobby

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Lobby

The hotel has 18 floors, and our room was located on the 16th floor, which is the same level the club is located on. Our room was literally located right outside the elevator bank, and I was damn impressed as soon as I opened the door.

The room had a large living room with a couch, several chairs, a desk, and a second bathroom. Connected to it was the bedroom, which was connected to the master bath. I found the room to be perfectly appointed, with furniture that was elegant yet not shabby or stuffy, which can be tough to pull off.

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Living room

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Bedroom

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Bathroom

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Shower

The most impressive part of the room, hands down, was the jacuzzi overlooking the Bosphorus. It was literally just a room with a jacuzzi that featured panoramic views through a floor-to-ceiling window.

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Bedroom looking towards the jacuzzi

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Jacuzzi

As you’ll see in later daytime pictures, the view from the jacuzzi is breathtaking.

On the table was a welcome gift consisting of fruit, a bottle of wine, and some snacks. Definitely one of the nicest welcome gifts I’ve ever received!

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Welcome gifts

As a good Royal Ambassador I snapped a picture of the minibar.

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Minibar

While we went to sleep almost immediately upon arrival, nothing was nicer than waking up to the view below. I thought the location of the InterContinental was ideal. While some might prefer a hotel right on the Bosphorus, I felt like the location of the InterContinental offered a more panoramic view of the whole landscape which put the geography of Istanbul into perspective better. While the Bosphorus itself is impressive, an overview of the entire landscape along with the Bosphorus is even better.

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View of the Bosphorus from our room

The views from this hotel are simply spectacular. One morning I even enjoyed the sunrise from the hotel. In the process I managed to lock myself out of the hotel for about 30 minutes due to a door that only opened from the inside, but given the amazing view I wasn’t too bummed out about it.

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Sunrise from the InterCotinental

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Talk about a sunrise on two continents (bridge connecting Europe and Asia)

Beyond that, what set this hotel apart were the employees. They were some of the friendliest, most customer service oriented I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with. While you’ll usually find most of the “nicer” hotels to have nice employees, it’s rare to experience such consistent hospitality as I experienced at the InterContinental Istanbul.

The club lounge was fantastic as well, both in terms of the employees as well as the offerings and setting. It was never overcrowded, which was nice.

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Club lounge seating area

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Club lounge dining area

The schedule for the club lounge was as follows:

Breakfast: 6:30AM-11:00AM
Afternoon Tea: 3:00PM-5:00PM
Evening Refreshments: 6:00PM-8:00PM

The breakfast spread was very nice, consisting of all types of fruits, cheeses, meats, pastries, yoghurt, etc., along with several hot options, like pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, etc.

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Breakfast spread

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Breakfast drinks

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My rather “continental” breakfast

The afternoon tea service consisted of soft drinks/tea/coffee, along with a small buffet set up with pastries, fruit, chocolate, cake, etc. I loved the china they were using, and once again the service was fantastic, especially their attention to detail when serving. You know that tingly feeling you get in your head when you’re watching someone pay close attention to detail? Or maybe that’s just me? Well, either way, I got that tingly feeling with the attention to detail of the employees. The coffee was also a bit more drinkable than the thick tar they served us on Turkish Airlines. 😉

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Coffee service

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Afternoon tea

The evening spread was also fantastic. As I indicated in the last installment of my trip report, I love Turkish food, and the spread here had plenty of veggies, all kinds of breads, hummus, and other types of appetizers. The drinks were served by the staff, and I was *thrilled* to see “authentic” Fanta. No, not the sweet crap they serve in the US, but the sourer tasting one which I love.

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Evening spread

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Snacks in the evening

On the second day I got to talking to the guest relations manager, and it quickly became apparent to me why this hotel masters the art of customer service and is so customer-friendly. She was polite, helpful, and most importantly passionate about her job and the industry as such, which is something that’s rather rare nowadays. After talking for a while she offered to give me a tour of the hotel, which I gladly accepted.

First we went to the top floor, which is where the City Lights Bar, Safran Terrace, and their Turkish restaurant are located. All of them boasted breathtaking views of the Bosphorus, although were a bit on the pricey side.

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Safran Terrace

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City Lights Bar

Next on the tour was the presidential suite, which was fortunately vacant. It is located on the 18th floor, and retails for 5,000 Euro/night. Apparently it has some regular guests that often occupy it.

Simply put, the presidential suite was amazing. It was spacious, had amazing views, and was well appointed, although I guess you’d kind of expect that from a Presidential Suite.

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Entrance

Upon entering there was a long hallway leading to the bedroom and living room.

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Hallway at the entrance

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Bedroom

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Bedroom

Not surprisingly, the views were spectacular, even better than the view from my room.

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View from the Presidential Suite bedroom

The bathroom was massive, with a large tub and sauna room.

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Bathroom

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Sauna room in the bathroom

Most impressive had to be the living room, with three couches and countless chairs.

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Living room

Connected to the living room was the kitchen, which had some darn nice views as well.

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Kitchen

Next on the agenda for the tour was the I-Spa. It was also on the pricey side, and even had a membership program from locals (and apparently quite a few locals are members). The nicest thing about going into a Spa has to be the smell. I’m sure you all know what I mean, but it’s like an instant vacation.

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I-Spa

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I-Spa

In the same area as the spa is the gym, which was surprisingly large.

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Gym

Next we went out to the pool. It was also quite nice, although it lacked the spectacular views.

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Pool

The last thing to discuss about this hotel is the location. Once again, fantastic. It’s about a three minute walk from the metro, which is a blessing given that the metro isn’t quite as extensive in Istanbul as it is in New York City. As far as walking by foot goes, the InterContinental is close to Istiklal Avenue, which is one of the nicer pedestrian zones in Istanbul (stay tuned for the next installment for pictures). You can walk down Istiklal Avenue towards the Bosphorus, and it’s a very nice downhill walk (of course going the other way is a different story). Through this we were basically able to get everywhere we wanted to go by foot. We walked by quite a few of the other chain hotels, and none matched the location of the InterContinental, based on my non-expert opinion.

So that’s that. I highly recommend the InterContinental Istanbul. The hotel itself was great, the service was great, and the location was great. What more could you possibly ask for? A special thanks to the guest relations manager for a tour of the hotel. That was a first for me!

 

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Comments

  1. Wow, that jacuzzi is amazing, although I would be a little shy to use it at night when others can see me just as easily!

  2. Thank you very much for the review, Lucky. The Intercontinental looks nice. I go to Istanbul once a year for business and usually stay at the Hyatt. I might give the IC a try next time.

  3. Nice hotel room. I find that the trouble with suites is that almost all are one bedroom with a single, king size bed. I don’t mind sharing with my brother or a male friend if we have to but in most cases, people who don’t normally sleep together end up disturbing each other to some extent. Therefore, unless I expect to receive guests during the day, I normally prefer a large room with two queen beds. The whirlpool bathtub by the window rather than in the bathroom sounds romantic but how well does it work in practice? I thought it was something you are more likely to find in Vegas.

  4. As a fellow RA I enjoy your reviews I use the information contained either as future planning or just memories of places I have been to and stayed in
    many thanks

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