Where Asia and Europe Collide - Location, Location, Location for an Up Close Experience in Style, Food and Urban Living in the Streets of Nishantashi, Istanbul
Did you know that the city of Istanbul, Turkey is split between two different continents, Europe and Asia? Yup! A bridge connects one side of the city and one continent to the other! The novelty of taking the bridge from Europe to Asia never wears off!
People always ask me about my favourite country to visit. Always, without a second of hesitation, the answer is "Turkey". Maybe some day I'll write a full post on my love affair with Turkey and how to perfectly spend an autumn afternoon wandering the streets of Istanbul by foot(e). But, in short, if the geopolitical and domestic circumstances were different, I could fantasize about happily spending the rest of my days in Istanbul.
Some of the most wonderful friends and colleagues I've met in my journeys abroad have been in Turkey. Some of the best food I've eaten in my life has been in Turkey. And, if you know me at all, you know about 50% of the accessories I wear are from Turkey.
Last week was a sad one. My employer made the final decision that with the security situation in Turkey, my annual fall trip was cancelled. So this post will pay homage to my favourite hotel in Istanbul, my home away from home, the Hilton ParkSA.
I feel as though I am a bit of an authority of the topic of the Hilton ParkSA as I have stayed there for about a month each year (except 2016) for the past few years.
Location: I personally love the location. The restaurant has the best view, overlooking the Bosphorus. The photo above is one I took from my breakfast table! Eating breakfast with that view is a treat, let me tell you! It's not exactly smack dab in the heart of things. It's a short cab ride, or a nice stroll to Taksim Square, or Istiklal's shopping street. As a matter of fact, on a particularly ambitions day, from the hotel, I walked to the Dolmabahce Palace, the Istanbul Modern Museum of Art and Galata Tower! The Hilton ParkSA rests on the edge of the neighbourhood of Nishantashi. Amazing views, great shops and fabulous restaurants are just a short stroll away.
Facilities: I've stayed at 3 different Hiltons in Istanbul alone over the years, Hilton ParkSA, Hilton Bomanti and Hilton Bosphorus. If you stay at a lot of hotels, you are probably like me and you hate staying at a new Hilton. You never know what you're walking into. Some Hiltons are luxe, and some are an inch short of dilapidated.
In my opinion, the Hilton Bosphorus has dated facilities and lack lustre service. The Hilton Bomanti is quite luxurious, but the location isn't that great and the food is quite expensive, with not many eating options nearby.
The ParkSA is the smallest Hilton in Istanbul by far. It's much more tucked away and modest. It often has lower rates, for that reason. You'll find a small workout room, but no pool or spa. However, all ParkSA guests do have access to the larger Hilton Bosphorus' facilities, if they wish. You'll get an intimate experience where the staff get to know you, and the crowds in the restaurant or lobby are never overwhelming. I certainly wouldn't classify it as a luxury hotel, but that isn't a bad thing!
They recently refurbished the lobby area and rooms. So the hotel continues to be modern, clean and inviting.
Food: I personally love the restaurant food there at the Cloud 7 Restaurant. They make some amazing Turkish food. And be sure order the baklava for dessert!
Staff: I can't say enough great things about the staff here. Because it is a relatively small hotel, you can really get to know the staff. The wait staff in the restaurant are very friendly and accommodating. I love them!
The front desk and concierge staff are kind and quick to help out in a pickle and I've had quite a few pickles in Istanbul! Once, when the ParkSA's atm ate my bank card and did not give me the cash even though my account was charged, the staff was personally on the phone with the bank that owned the atm first thing in the morning and sped up the process of reimbursement significantly from my bank back home.
When I got really ill in Istanbul, after convincing them I did not need an ambulance, they provided me with all the information for the closest hospital and got me there.
When I had my trip cancelled at the last minute this past winter and I had already had my business materials shipped to their hotel, they helped me arrange to have it given to a colleague in the city.
When my colleagues returned without me last winter, I got texts from them saying that all of the staff was asking where I was! This did make me a little nervous, to be honest. Do they remember me because they like me, or is it because I can be a little demanding?! Or do they know about that time I fell asleep eating chocolate covered pistachios, and the chocolate, melted to the sheets, suggesting something entirely different had happened? Shame. I really wanted to leave a note on the sheets saying, "It's chocolate, I swear!".
Hotels are expensive. Like, really expensive. So when I stay at a hotel, I have high expectations. But the Hilton ParkSA has continuously met these expectations!
The only negative thing I have to say is that even though they claim to be a non-smoking hotel, I can sometimes smell cigarette smoke in the hallways, and so I hope they do everything they can to prevent smoking in the rooms and penalize those who do. Although, smoking norms are different in this part of the world.
If you're looking for a Foote tested, well positioned, reasonably priced hotel in Istanbul, check out the Hilton ParkSA. Are the more luxurious options? Absolutely. Many. Are there more economical options? Absolutely. But after experiencing the food, location and hospitality of the Hilton ParkSA, I can't bring myself to stay elsewhere.
Hot tip: If you're looking to explore Turkey online, follow Turkey.Home on Facebook or Instagram. They post the most amazing pictures! Or follow me on Instagram @footeoutthedoor as I am often posting Turkey pics!
Champagnes on the Luximetre:
*The Luximetre is FooteOuttheDoor's 5 point scale to measure the degree of luxury felt by the hotel guest