Turkey Trip Overview
Booking Flights To Turkey
British Airways First Class Lounge IAH
British Airways 777 First Class IAH-LHR
Transiting Heathrow and British Airways A320 Business Class LHR-IST
Marriott Courtyard Istanbul Airport
Pegasus Airlines Istanbul to Izmir and Back
Ephesus, Mary’s House and Basilica of St. John
Pamukkale Bus and Preiene
Major Sites to see in Istanbul
Radisson Blu Bosphorus
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class IST-IAH
Our final hotel for the trip was the Radisson Blu Bosphorus. Once again we arranged with the folks at SeaSong to transfer us from the Ritz to our new hotel. The hotels are only 2.5 km apart – 6 minutes with no traffic but that’s too far to walk with a week’s worth of luggage and significant traffic, so we were glad we opted for the private transfer.
As its name suggests, the hotel is located right on the water. It even had a small area for boats to dock and it was from here we were able to board the boat for our cruise of the strait. The main dining area is at sea level, which is one level down from the entrance and front desk. In addition to inside dining there’s also a covered terrace which provided a great view of all the traffic on the Bosphorus.
We checked in a bit early and our rooms weren’t quite ready so we sat in the lobby for a bit, wanting to get our luggage stored before our cruise. Just when we’d decided we needed to eat something (it was nearly noon by that point) before our cruise, our rooms were ready so we quickly took our luggage up then headed down to the patio to eat at the StarBoard Restaurant.
The waitstaff here could use a refresher course in service. I know that the standards are different in various countries and that in Turkey one is expected to flag down a server when something is needed rather than expecting a server to be proactive. But at lunch the first day and both days at breakfast we often had trouble even finding a server or getting them to look our way so we could indicate we needed help.
After the fabulous breakfast we had at the Swissotel Efes, any other buffet would be a letdown so I was somewhat prepared for that but still, I was a little disappointed by breakfast here. I’m not complaining too much as it was free with my Club Carlson Gold status which I obtained just by having their credit card. While everything at the Swissotel seemed fresh and colorful, it seemed the buffet here was a bit dull. They did have a cook-to-order station one day though I don’t think they had it the next.
Cereal was an option on the buffet both days but there were no spoons on the table or by the cereal station. The first day my server managed to bring me a tablespoon (suitable as a serving spoon) while the next day I was directed to a basket of spoons – nowhere near the cereal – but they were iced tea spoons. I was hoping for a short-handled “regular” spoon or at least a soup spoon but got neither. I found it very odd that no one else complained about this.
The room itself was actually a very nice size. We’d ordered a twin room and had added a roll-away bed. They gave us a connecting room and the roll-away was place in front of the connecting door so we all got a little space this way. Unfortunately it also made it easier to hear the crying baby next door on the second night!
We got a chuckle out of the combination TV stand/mini-bar as it looked like something out of “The Jetsons” to us but we weren’t watching TV anyway. There were plenty of accessible outlets, which was nice but we did run into one unpleasant surprise. Only four devices per room may be connected to the internet during any 24-hour period. Unfortunately two of us cranked up our phones and tablets right away, leaving the third person without a connection. A warning certainly would have been nice! It’s possible that the front desk folks could have helped us but we didn’t realize the situation until we were all locked in for the night and we didn’t mention it the next day.
The bathroom has a window over the sink that looks back into the room. We were a little worried at first because we’re friends but not THAT kind of friends! Fortunately we found a shade on the outside of the window that raises up to give privacy in the bathroom. There was a single sink with a good-sized vanity. The shower/tub was fully enclosed with glass doors but it was quite a step up into the tub from the floor. While we three could handle this it might be tough for shorter people or those with mobility issues. Anne Semonin-branded toiletries were provided as was a hair dryer.
The hotel also had a small gym and a hair salon though we did not make use of either.
The location of the hotel is a beautiful one though I don’t think it’s very practical if you don’t have your own transportation. Just to the east of the hotel is the Ortakoy, a small outdoor mall of sorts. Lots of open air shops and cafes. We had fun just browsing through it and we ate dinner in the area both nights. Once you cross the main road in front of the hotel, go back a block or two and you start getting into a more residential area. We loved looking at the fresh food stalls as well as the non-touristy stores where the locals buy their goods. There is a small mosque not far away but it did broadcast the calls to prayers before midday – something we were thankful for because when they did broadcast it, it was quite loud.
So the service here is not what we experienced at the Ritz or at the Swissotel but then, neither was the price. I redeemed 100K Gold Points for this stay. If I’d held the credit card at the time I made the reservation the last night would have been free – as it was, I nearly cut it too close getting the credit card and the gold status came through just hours before we checked in.