Landing in Istanbul and walking through the Istanbul Airport is incredible. I followed a friend’s instruction, ignored pushy catcallers in the arrivals haul and ordered a rather luxurious black cab via Uber app to my hotel, the Hagia Sofia Mansions Istanbul, Curio Collection by Hilton.
While the taxi driver whisked me toward the hotel, I felt a distinct sense that Istanbul felt home. But, also like a new adventure at the same time. It’s interesting that it felt familiar and yet completely foreign. It could have been the jet lag. But, I loved watching the landscape change outside my window, as I started to relax on the way to the hotel.
Getting to the Hotel
What’s key to note is that taxis does not let you out right in front of the hotel. I learned by reading Trip Advisor tips that I needed to call the hotel and have them send a golf cart. With luggage, it’s not advisable to attempt to walk up the rather steep incline to the hotel. Immediately, waiting on the street corner I looked around. It suddenly hit me that I was literally on the other side of the world, with my luggage, in Turkey and truly dependent on who spoke English or not.
Luckily, shopkeepers at the store Orient Delight and Spice saw me with my bags and beckoned me inside. Immediately, I felt nervous, guarded and VERY American. But, they called the hotel for cart service and graciously gave me Turkish delights and tea.
I was slightly shocked and utterly appalled by how protective and guarded I felt. In their moment of kindness and hospitality, I realized that living in America truly gives you a skewed perspective of the world. Instead of everyone being a potential threat – what if people were naturally kind and happy?
When you have Turkish delights, in Istanbul, it’s a true treat. Being at the the store was such a beautiful, distinct and delicious experience. Considering I was jet lagged from a 12 hour flight, being beckoned into the rug shop that sold Turkish herbs, candies and of course, rugs was a place of peace.
Soon, the golf cart from reception arrived and whisked me away.
Checking In and First Impressions
Now, without a doubt, The Hagia Sophia Mansions is hands down one of the best Hilton property I’ve ever stayed at in the world. It is impeccably located in the midst of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque area. The decor, even in the main reception building, is impeccable.
The Hagia Sophia property is so spread out, with individual mansions areas as separate buildings and rooms. You do need to take the golf cart around once you arrive.
However, Hilton is the only hotel brand I’ve ever dealt with that does not give a shit about your Diamond status. It’s really amusing to spend so much to get to a tier – only to be repeatedly told that there are no complimentary upgrades available. That happened during my stay at Conrad Tulum Maya Rivera as well. I believe the only reason I received an upgrade with my Conrad Tokyo stay is because I booked through American Express Travel, which pretty much gives you more bang for your buck with upgrades and stay bonuses.
Such is what happened at Hagia Sofia Mansions Istanbul. Which, because I’d booked the room category I’d actually wanted to stay in, I was still pleased. While my room was being prepared, I sat for my welcome drink in the garden of the main building. Nothing like having my first taste of Turkish coffee (light sugar, please) as they readied my room with welcome accoutrements.
It was delicious and a shot of caffeine in my body. It was there, in the garden that I allowed myself to finally relax and breathe. I was in another country on the other side of the world – and it felt extremely good.
The Room and Stay
When my room was ready, I was driven over to the closest point of entry to my building and walked down.
My first thoughts were “This is exactly what I wanted, how I wanted it.”
The room had a richness in decor and vibrance to it. It was comfortable, large and visually delicious.
What I truly enjoyed at the Hagia Sophia Mansions is the location.
You are within walking distance of the Hagia Sophia Mosque and Blue Mosque. I had a culturally rich time walking the incredible grounds outside the mosques. The fact that I could walk around and have a full day – and then easily walk back to my building and relax in my room was perfect. The history of the land was vibrant and present everywhere I turned.
Never underestimate the importance of a good concierge. Because the Hagia Sophia Mansions has two receptions, the concierge was actually located at the reception closest to me. During my stay, I utilized this fact and received a few suggestions of local rooftop fare.
Going above and beyond, someone drove me in a golf cart down to a meeting point – and a member of the restaurant staff at Tria Elegance Terrace Restaurant met me and walked with me to the restaurant. I was so happy and I felt so safe. Just another reason why this Hilton is in my top three favorite Hiltons brand hotels in the world.
I only wish I had more time for my stay.
Hagia Sofia Mansions Istanbul, Curio Collection by Hilton
Sultanahmet, Kabasakal Cd. No:5
Faith, Istanbul , Türkiye 34122