Kybele Hotel, Sultanahmet, Istanbul
Quirky and central townhouse hotel. Doubles from £110 B&B
The heart of Sultanahmet, the Ottoman imperial capital, is home to this tried and tested hotel which combines excellent service with a fantastically flamboyant décor bespeaking all manner of influences from boudoir to bedesten; antique display pieces like gramophones, cameras and eighteenth-century pistols, framed pieces of calligraphy and swagged draperies are crammed into interiors alongside seating nooks beneath ceilings hung with a firmament of Ottoman-era glass lamps. The patio area, painted in joyous primary colours, recalls Sultanahmet’s fabled hippy era, or a gypsified version of it.
If there’s a downside, it’s that the warren-like interior can feel cramped, not least in the small rooms and the basement breakfast area. But for first-time visitors to the city, intent on an address just a stroll from the Grand Bazaar or the Aya Sofya Basilica, this is a great introductory base, and one that puts guests in a good humour.