Anadolu Evleri, Gaziantep
Atmospheric Old Town Boutique Hotel. Doubles from £50 B&B
The metal-studded doors lining the alleyways of Antep’s atmospheric medina – the Arabic word feels right this close to Syria – are set with little arch-shaped portals which residents open to assess prospective guests; those who pass inspection at Anadolu Evleri proceed into a spacious secluded courtyard set with almond trees, a fountain pool, tables and lazy chairs. High nineteenth-century facades of a soft beige stone enclose the courtyard. External stairways with filigree iron railings lead to tımbered belvederes; there are windows topped by Arabesque arches, iron-work lanterns, and pot plants galore.
Anadolu Evleri, which means Anatolian Houses, was a cluster of dilapidated dwellings when owner Tim(ur) Schindel set about restoring them to create his uniquely charming boutique hotel. The place revolves around the courtyard (or hayat – life) because for most of the time this is where life goes on; it’s a great spot for breakfasting, for evening drinks, or just lazing over a book while the city’s celebrated pigeons swoop overhead.
The hotel’s other outstanding virtue is the manner in which the restoration has preserved the original patina of the interiors; the bare stone walls and hearths, the ornate painted ceilings, the antique lamps, the old tiled floors and the wood panelling in authentic café au lait paint tones. Period bric-a-brac – radiogrammes, bedside Bakelite phones, high-backed chairs, framed French-language announcements of Stamboul train services – all add to the pervasive impression that T.E. Lawrence might be among the guests. Thankfully, however, the recently upgraded bathrooms and beds are not of the same vintage.