Places to Stay
For their generosity of spirit, style, individuality and romance, these small hotels, restored mansions, pansiyons, beach cabins, villas, and camping shacks are among my favourite stays in Turkey. Use these thumbnails to visit or find them on the map. And where you like what you see, click through to the hotel website at the bottom of the page for more detail.
The country may be ancient but Turkey’s modern tourist industry only dates back to the 1980s, so travellers shouldn’t presume any broad equivalence with the kind of accommodation on offer in established European destinations. I think I’m right in saying that not one of the stays featured here existed when I first visited Turkey in 1984.
Along the popular Mediterranean coasts, subject not only to devastating earthquakes but to brutal development, visitors will be lucky to find much in the way of the period-piece hotels standard in many Provencal or Italian towns, or on some Greek islands; they are more numerous along the Aegean, in Cappadocia and elsewhere inland.
Turkey’s accommodation hand is particularly strong in the village pansiyon; this institution, originally developed to serve the domestic market, has taken to overseas visitors with gusto and tends to be very much less fusty than the French pension or the Italian pensione. The best pansiyon is a comfortable and convivial, family-run establishment offering substantial evening meals, often on a competitive half-board basis; it’s the kind of place where hospitable locals pull off the difficult trick of blurring the usual distinctions between hosts and their paying guests while maintaining exceptional service standards. The accommodation, however the establishment chooses to call itself, is as often in cabins or annexes scattered across tended gardens as it is in one main building.
Not that all towns have stand-out stays in either the hotel or pansiyon category. It can pay to consider self-catering options, especially in places like Dalyan where to-hand restaurants and cafes mean that guests can go easy on the self-catering, or where the ready availability of excellent produce may encourage them to venture into the kitchen.
A useful rule of thumb is that mixed partnerships or marriages, either a Turk and a Westerner, or Turks raised in the West, often leads to outstanding accommodation; in my experience an exclusively ex-pat management all too often fails to deliver.
It pays to be aware that from May to October the accommodation available at many hotels and villas can only be booked through Europe-based tour operators, notably Cachet Travel in London, when rooms are often sold by the week; direct bookings on a more flexible basis are in some cases possible outside the summer season, though many places close for the winter.