The 5 Best Hotels in Istanbul

This year's No. 1 Istanbul hotel exemplifies the modern spirit of a historic city.

Istanbul is a city of dizzying contrasts, where ancient tradition meets modern-day culture. It sits quite literally on the crossroads of two civilizations, spread across Asia and Europe. Sleek, glassy skyscrapers tower over centuries-old mosques, and neighborhoods give visitors a peek into Old World Constantinople while trendy, newer districts offer a glimpse into the city's future.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels (including safari lodges) were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city hotel, resort, or safari lodge based on their locations and amenities.

Spectacular views over the Bosphorus and its Asian coast and impeccable service seem to be the common denominator in this year's winning properties. A traveler who stayed at Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul (No. 2) called it "a perfect hidden gem in Istanbul with full views on the Bosphorus," while another T+L reader commented not only on the "romantic view" but the hotel's impressive service.

Both Four Seasons properties in Istanbul ranked in this category. Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet (No. 5) offers a tranquil and private reprieve in the city's oldest neighborhood, while Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus (No. 4) is housed in a 19th-century waterfront Ottoman palace with an outdoor swimming pool that boasts stunning views over the famed strait. One WBA respondent recommended arriving at the property by boat, while another enjoyed the vistas from the hotel's outdoor café.

But the undisputed winner in this new category is the grand Raffles Istanbul. Read on to see why it took the No. 1 spot and the other properties that made the cut.

1. Raffles Istanbul

A man looks out of the window in a luxury hotel room in Istanbul
Courtesy of Raffles

This contemporary hotel perfectly exemplifies the modern spirit of a historic city. Located in the upscale Zorlu Center, Raffles Istanbul has 136 rooms and 49 suites, with private balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows that provide views of the Bosphorus, the Princes' Islands, and Istanbul's Old Town. The property blends high-end furnishings and amenities, such as walk-in closets and its renowned butler service, with traditional Turkish motifs. The public areas showcase an impressive art collection. Perfectly reflecting Istanbul's place as a melting pot of east and west, the dining options at Raffles, which include multiple restaurants, bars, and lounges, blend pan-Asian, Turkish, and Mediterranean flavors.

Score: 98.25

More information: rafflesistanbul.com

2. Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul

Exterior of the Shangri-La Bosphorus hotel in Istanbul
Courtesy of Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul

Score: 95.90

More information: shangri-la.com

3. Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

High angle view of the Ciragan Kempinski Palace hotel in Istanbul
Courtesy of Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

Score: 92.87

More information: kempinski.com

4. Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus

Sunlit guest room at a luxury hotel in Istanbul, with views over the river
Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Score: 92.86

More information: fourseasons.com

5. Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet

Sitting area in a hotel suite in Istanbul
Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Score: 90.59

More information: fourseasons.com

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