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Travel Blogs from Istanbul
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How has this hotel rated in the past?
Historical Traveler Reviews Empress Zoe Istanbul
Most charming hotel
We stayed at the Zoe in October. Our stay was broken up by a tour or Turkey, so we had a few days in the hotel and then the tour and a week following the tour at the Zoe again. We stayed in both the old part and the new part. Our preference was for the old section.Though the new was charming as well. The bathroom in the old section was amazing...like nothing I have ever seen before. It was part of the old turkish bath. The linens were wonderful, the handmade soap delightful and the furnishings and the wall painting were facinating. Breakfast was more than memorable, though not overwhelming. The winding wrought iron staircase is a challange, but if you hold on and don't trip over the big orange cat, it is managable. The staff and the other people staying there were absolutely delightful and more than helpful. We can't wait to go back.
Zoe wins Australian vote
I stayed in the penthouse at Empress Zoe for several days in early January, and it ranks as one of my most delightful hotel experiences anywhere. The view is breathtaking from all the windows, and from the private courtyard, watching the boats passing through the Bosphorous, the birds circling the old cistern next door. The staff were very courteous, and the rooms clean and charming. I very much enjoyed the breakfast experience, particularly the friendly cats. The location of the hotel is excellent, a short walk to Aya Sofya, the Blue Mosque, and the Topkapi. I am very keen to return to Istanbul, and the Zoe, this time with the children who would love its winding stairs, and unexpected courtyards and balconies. As an Australian, it was nice to be able to talk to the staff about Galipoli, and more recent political events, and to meet the characteristic Turkish courtesy and intelligence.
One of the best stays i've ever had
i spent three weeks at the utterly charming empress zoe in november 2004 and would recommend it to anyone looking for a place to stay that's full of character; has a kind and helpful staff; has cozy, individually decorated rooms (done with lots of taste); has a spectacular walled garden; and an absolutely large love of a marmelade cat named jasper (who happily purred away several nights in my room, much to my delight).
this lovely little hotel, in the heart of sultanahmet, is a great base for exploring istanbul. during my three weeks there -- during which time i was made to feel utterly at home by the hotel's owner and staff -- i felt especially comfortable as a woman traveling alone. as a journalist, i have been all over the world and stayed in everything from tents to five-star hotels. the empress zoe was definitely one of my favorite hotel stays ever. i'm looking forward to going back in june.
Empress Zoe is like a home away from home
I have had the pleasure of staying at Empress Zoe on many occasions as I am frequently in Istanbul. I have always found it like staying in a turkish home. The rooms are lovely and always clean. The garden is an oasis in which guests are free to relax and spend time, the staff is helpful and polite and I am always happy to return there as a little home away from home.
Overrated and Overpriced
I stayed at Empress Zoe for 2 nights on Dec 24 and 25 and two words - OVERRATED and OVERPRICED - aptly sums up my impression of the hotel. Having stayed at another hotel in Istanbul (Hotel Uyan) on Dec 27-29, I can say that at least relative to Uyan, Zoe is a complete rip-off, dirty, unfriendly and loud, with its only saving grace being its fantastic breakfast.
First of all, the price Zoe charges is just OUTRAGEOUS. With a room half the size of what I got at Uyan, Zoe was charging me 20% more than Uyan ($90 a night - compared to $75 a night at Uyan). What really irked me more was that Zoe offered to pick me up at the airport for what they claimed was at a bargain price of $30 - which I declined and later realized that a local cab ride only set me back $15!!!
The bathrooms - literally was big as my closet in New York - and my closet in New York is not that big! Worst, it reeked of this weird nauseous sewer odor which was just unbearable. Worst, the toilet bowl looked dirty - with the cleaning lady evidently doing a half-hearted job.
The weather in Istanbul during the days I stayed at Zoe was frigid but unfortunately, my room did not provide much shelter. The rooms seem to be heated via a central heating system, and it seems they turn off the heater around 3 am to 5 am.
After checking in at a hotel, I asked for some recommendations for restaurants - which the lady at the front desk seemed either incapable or unwilling to provide.
DO NOT STAY AT ZOE - you can get rooms double the size of ZOE, with friendlier staff and a decent bathroom, at $50-$75 at numerous other hotels within 100 feet of ZOE.
I was really shocked and saddened to see this terrible review of my hotel. Please compare it with all the other reviews here and the many positive write-ups we have in guidebooks, on the net and in the press. We have been in business 12 years, one of the most popular hotels in Istanbul (rated #7 right here on Trip Advisor). We not only have thousands of happy returning guests who send their friends but we are also the favorite Istanbul hotel of many discerning guidebook writers.
This review was written by a Korean couple from New York who stayed in our hotel on December 24 and 25. They did not fit at all with the guests we usually have. They would have been better off in any number of anonymous, conventional hotels that abound here and everywhere. All of our aesthetic design, originality, art work, garden, ancient ruins and attention to details was entirely lost on them. They even hated our cats which had to be removed since the lady of the couple started screaming whenever she saw one.
Regarding the claims made against our hotel: Overrated, Overpriced, Outrageous, Complete Rip Off, Noisy, Dirty, Unfriendly and Loud - and that is just the first paragraph !
Our rates are right in line with other boutique hotels in the area. Of course there are cheaper hotels but not of the same standard. We seldom lose guests to other hotels. We are on friendly terms with all the hotels in our neighborhood and have nothing bad to say about any of them.
We are complimented on the friendliness and helpfulness of our staff all the time.
Our standard size doubles are not smaller than other hotels - but they are more uniquely designed and decorated. Some of our suites are very large. The bathroom described by this reviewer is compact but spotlessly clean, odor free and made completely of marble. We have a few rooms which we have designated as small and those rent at a lower price. This was not one of them.
Our pickup service is an option offered on our website. If guests want to pay extra to have a very reliable chauffer wait for them at arrivals with a sign and bring them back here in comfort in a lovely, new, non-smoking vehicle with leather seats that is up to them. If anyone asks us the price of a taxi we tell them without hesitation. We are not trying to sell anyone on our pickup service. (I must add here that when our own car is busy and for larger groups we use a very reputable agency with Mercedes mini buses who charge us exactly the same rate, also when offering free pickups for long stays in winter we do not necessarily use our own vehicle)
We have 4 full time cleaners working to keep this place spotless and I personally check all the rooms and bathrooms at least every two weeks.
Our heating system (natural gas with automatic thermostat) works very well and we have many more people who turn off their radiators than complain that it is cold.
Over Christmas/New Year the hotel was entirely full - including a group of exuberant and happy Italians - so that may be the "loud" to which this customer was referring. The breakfast area can get a bit crowded in bad weather when everyone would rather stay in and enjoy the convivial atmosphere - and the company of our cat Jasper !
I will stop on that note since I would like to put this behind us. We cannot expect everyone to like us but all of us took this review very hard. I hope some of our other guests will write in with their comments over the coming months.
Even if you choose not to stay at Hotel Empress Zoe please come and visit while you are in town. I would love to show you around.
Ann Nevans, Owner of Hotel Empress Zoe, Istanbul, Turkey
Lovely empress zoe
I´ve been to Istanbul in july and stayed at this charming hotel.The staff is very kind , the rooms are clean and they serve a fantastic and typical breakfast. Above all we have a walking distance from The Topkapi,Haya Sofia and Blue Mosque,what else you need?
An Oase in Istanbul
Hotel Zoe is a Oase of piece in this Great town. The nice decorated rooms, breakfast in de garden and a glass of wine on the roof with a view on the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the sea of Marmaris makes this hotel a unique place to stay.
Breakfast is served in de garden, wich is a great start of a new day. And a glass of wine on the roof is a beautiful place to think over the day before you go to sleep.
The location of Empress Zoe is perfect. It is located in Sultanahmet, the older quarter of the city, near most of the tourist attractions.
The Sultanahmet square is the centre of the Ramadan activities.
Your stay in this Hotel will make your holiday perfect.
Loved the Empress Zoe
I recently stayed at this hotel. I had the good fortune to book one of the new garden suites.. it was a great choice. More like an apartment.. separate dining / kitchen / bedroom and a lovely roof top terrace. The staff were kind and considerate. The garden is fab, and the location excellent for exploring the local sites.
A charming hotel in historic Sultanahmet
The thematic boutique hotel concept has certainly taken off in Sultanahmet, as every other innkeeper strives to outdo each other with cliched Ottoman decor.
Empress Zoe distinguishes itself by drawing from Istanbul's varied past, choosing instead to rely on Byzantine motifs and incorporating unrestored parts of an old Byzantine cistern and an old hammam into its hotel. Step in, and you know this place is different. It exudes atmosphere.
Located a mere 5 minute walk from Aya Sofia with Bosphorous views from the terrace, location is one of the main draws. Helpful hotel staff well versed in english are a great resource when it comes to looking for a good restaurant (check out Balikci Sabhahattin) nearby and shopping tips at the Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Bazaar.
Rooms are on the smaller side but adequate, and a very pleasant "secret garden" breakfast is the best way to start a leisurely day in Istanbul.
The only drawback are the rather insistent restaurant touts immediately outside the hotel.