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.
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.
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.
Bedroom looking towards the 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!
As a good Royal Ambassador I snapped a picture of the 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.
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.
Sunrise from the InterCotinental
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.
Club lounge seating area
Club lounge dining area
The schedule for the club lounge was as follows:
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.
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. 😉
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.
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.
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.
Upon entering there was a long hallway leading to the bedroom and living room.
Hallway at the entrance
Not surprisingly, the views were spectacular, even better than the view from my room.
View from the Presidential Suite bedroom
The bathroom was massive, with a large tub and sauna room.
Sauna room in the bathroom
Most impressive had to be the living room, with three couches and countless chairs.
Connected to the living room was the kitchen, which had some darn nice views as well.
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.
In the same area as the spa is the gym, which was surprisingly large.
Next we went out to the pool. It was also quite nice, although it lacked the spectacular views.
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!