Let me start by saying that my feelings for the W Istanbul are in no way influenced by the fact that we crashed a private wrap party for a photo shoot for a vodka campaign in the W bar on our very first night in Istanbul. And, subsequently, drank for free amongst a lot of very, very pretty people.
That being said, the W Istanbul is a very swanky place full of very pretty people. Decorated in rich, dark tones of eggplant, burgundy, and chocolate, it’s got a sensuous, exotic vibe in both the common areas and the rooms.
It’s the first W hotel in Europe and opened in May 2008. It’s located in a block of row houses that used to house the guards of the nearby Dolmabahce Palace. Known as Akaretler Row Houses near the Bosphorus, the W is walking distance to the nearby Besiktas fish markets and all the great fish restaurants, hookah bars, and cafes there.
The W Istanbul is also walking distance to Nisantasi, the SoHo of Istanbul, which we checked out on our last day in the city. The sports stadium is also walking distance, making this an ideal location if you want to go see a soccer match. The home team (Besiktas Football Club) was playing on the Sunday we were there, but we had not planned tickets ahead and decided to skip the effort of trying to get last minute tickets.
The hotel is also a short drive to the Old City, Taksim Square, the Blue Mosque and Orkatoy, another trendy bar and restaurant area we went to for dinner on our second night.
There were tons of restaurants near the hotel as well, including the Turkish version of Starbucks (Kahve Dunyasi), a wine bar called Corvus that we went to one night, and a place called Winston’s Brasserie that was always busy when we walked past. There was also a large supermarket across the street.
The W had a breakfast buffet, but we were generally up and out every morning and got breakfast at one of the local bakeries. Since breakfast for two ended up costing about $1.60 for three pastries, we weren’t too put out. My daily cup of coffee at the Kahve place was a bit more expensive, but so worth it.
The W Istanbul has 134 rooms, and 26 suites. There are 11 different room types, some with gardens, terraces and cabanas and all have 5 different lighting settings in the rooms. The beds were the standard W beds, totally comfy and cozy, with nice, high thread count sheets. A 32in flat-screen TV, iPod dock and Wi-Fi were standard.
The shower rooms were huge and set up like steam rooms with a GIANT rainfall shower head (seriously, it’s the biggest shower head I’ve ever seen), built-in benches, and a sink with hot and cold taps for splashing water on yourself while steaming (Turkish bath style).
The showers were coated in what’s known as “hammam” marble, which was kinda gray striped. We definitely made use of the steam room set up after coming in from the frigid temperatures every day (it was in the 30s the whole trip and even snowed a couple of days, a fairly unusual sight for Istanbul, according to our guide).
And, they had some of the best towels ever. HUGE cotton sheets, basically. It also marked the first time we did not have to call down to have additional towels sent to the room.
The lobby is small but gorgeous, with plenty of seating areas and free wi-fi. A curving staircase takes you to the second floor where the bar is. This would be the bar that was hosting (what we think was) a wrap party for the aforementioned vodka photo shoot.
After dinner on Friday (our first night), we went back to the hotel for a nightcap and some more hotel exploring. We were snooping around the third floor where the restaurants are located, when a big group of very pretty people came pouring out of one of the restaurants and went down the stairs to the second floor. We were right behind them going down the stairs to the second floor, and when they turned off to a side room off the second floor bar, we just kept following them.
Next thing you know, we were drinking free mojitos, doing watermelon vodka shots, and avoiding eye contact or conversation with a very puzzled group of people.
A fun night was had by all, or, at least, a fun night was had by these two party-crashing tourists.