INTRODUCTION

The Conrad Istanbul is located in the Besiktas district of Istanbul.  The area is not the most convenient for sightseeing, but is within walking distance to the Besiktas wharf, from which other areas of Istanbul can be easily accessed.  Big Bus also operates a hop-on hop-off service which stops at the nearby W Hotel, which is fairly close to the Conrad.  Dolmabahce Palace is also closeby and within walking distance.

When I stayed there in April 2016, the hotel was undergoing major renovations to it’s lobby area, so the main entrance was temporarily unavailable, with a side entrance being used.

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The hotel can be had quite cheaply for around 140 USD per night upwards.  Overall impressions of this hotel are very positive.  However, getting here via taxi can be difficult at times, given the infamous Istanbul traffic congestion.


CHECK IN

Upon arriving at the hotel, guests are to have their baggage screened with an x-ray machine.  As the main lobby was being renovated, what I assume to be a temporary check-in desk was being used.

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Check-in was very efficient and my HHonors Diamond status was recognised with an upgrade to a Bosphorus suite being provided.  Complimentary breakfast was also available in either the Executive Lounge or the main ‘Manzara’ restaurant.  A list of elite benefits were also provided, along with information about security relating to an upcoming protest.

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THE ROOM

The suite itself was quite amazing, providing great views over the Bosphorus Strait.  The bedroom and living room were separate.  While some may view the space as being on the tighter side, I found the use of space to be quite practical for two people and the hard product spot on.

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I particularly liked the bedroom television, which could be raised from or lowered into its cabinet via remote control.  However, during my stay, I had some issues with the remote not being able to change channels.

The bed was extremely comfortable and a little on the softer side with the mattress topper, but still providing ample support.  The bedside European AC charger sockets were also very convenient.

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There wardrobe also housed the usual in-room safe, ironing board, iron, extra pillow, hangers, hairdryer and laundry/shoe bags.  The shoe bag should have been included in the picture below… but my partner pinched them!  I guess they were included in the room rate… right..?

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The work desk is also quite functional and spacious including the pens, notepads, power and connectivity ports one might need while slaving away on the laptop.

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The minibar is also quite well stocked, but I would say slightly lacking in local drinks and snacks.  I generally do not facilitate the minibar too much unless something interesting is available in there.

Nevertheless, complimentary mineral water is provided, as well with pods for the Nespresso machine.

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BATHROOM

The bathroom area is separated into three areas: the toilet, sink area and bathroom, complete with standalone shower.

The sink area included his and hers sinks for convenience as well as the full suite of Conrad amenities.  By default, Aromatherapy Associates products are provided, but I also requested the Shanghai Tang variety.

What I especially liked about the massive mirror was the TV which was built into it, so that one can listen to the news while doing the morning’s vanity session.  The viewing angles are quite poor though, but the extra splash of luxury is nevertheless appreciated.

The bathroom section had a spacious marble tub with an accompanying rainforest shower.  Great for relaxation after a long slog around Istanbul’s hilly terrain.

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The toilet is also in its own standalone area and is… well, a clean toilet.  Oh and it also has a bidet function built in too.

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FACILITIES

The hotel has quite an amazing gym with a good balance between cardio equipment, strength machines and free weights.  Fitness junkies would be pleased.  Indeed, a well-equipped gym I believe is absolutely essential to staying healthy while on the road.

There is also a pool available, but I did not visit it on this occasion.


EXECUTIVE LOUNGE

The executive lounge is on the ‘R’ floor of the property, which is one floor above the lobby.  It overlooks the front of the hotel which is mostly foliage and a road.  There is both an indoor and outdoor section.  In the warmer months, I can imagine sitting outdoors would be quite amazing.  I believe the lounge used to be on the top floor of the hotel overlooking the Bosphorus Strait.  Sadly, that floor has since been re-purposed as a bar for undoubtedly revenue reasons.

Nevertheless, the lounge is spacious, modern and relaxing.  I believe one can also smoke hookah/shisha/nargileh on the outdoor verandah.

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The food and beverage offerings during the evening canapé service however are a little uninspiring.  Those hoping for a dinner replacement would be wise to make alternative arrangements.  There are about eight food options or so available, but unfortunately they aren’t the most appetising.  Nevertheless the offerings are acceptable for nibbles and lounging around – the purpose of having a lounge anyway.

Beverage options are your standard beer, wines and sparkling.  Spirits are also available and can be mixed yourself.

I also briefly visited the lounge during breakfast service and the offerings were very limited.  I would highly recommend eating at the main ‘Manzara’ restaurant next door.


BREAKFAST

I had breakfast at the ‘Manzara’ restaurant on both nights of my stay, which is located next to the executive lounge.  I have to say I was extremely impressed with the offerings, which I felt gave a real taste of what Turkey has to offer.  The restaurant itself also has amazing views over  Istanbul and the Bosphorus Strait, so I would highly recommend snagging a window seat.

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What initially impressed me about the breakfast spread was the sheer variety of baked goods available, in all shapes, grains and flavours.  Of course, accompanying condiments are also available, including fresh honeycomb, cheeses and other goodies which are completely unknown to me.

There is also quite a selection of options tucked away next to the kitchen, which one can easily forget about.  These include cold cuts, salads, yoghurts and other goods.  However, my favourite here was easily the bread pudding, which I found to be very unique – excuse my ignorance if it is actually a very common dish!

The only criticism of the buffet was actually the hot section, which didn’t have the most exciting options.  However menemen which is essentially tomato scrambled eggs is available on order from the wait staff.  Cooked-to-order omelettes can also be requested.

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There were also some Asian-inspired dishes available as well, such as Japanese yakisoba, miso soup and some sort of rice dish.  As expected, these were sub-par, but no doubt geared towards Chinese guests as part of Hilton’s Huanying initiative for Chinese market share.

The lentil soup was quite tasty though, which goes to show… when in Turkey… do as the Turks do!

There are also ample fruits available and the juices are always very tasty, especially the freshly-squeezed orange juice.  A cherry variety is also available for something a little bit different, but wasn’t for me.  Chocolate milk is also available for the kids and the young at heart.

Service could have been more attentive as the wait team did not take away plates for 30 minutes on average.  Also, when tea/coffee/others were ordered, the staff were quite unfriendly and unresponsive.


OVERALL

This is a very well-run hotel with great hard product.  I stayed here for two nights, which was quite enjoyable, but any longer would be a stretch as the hotel is not well situated.  I would recommend combining a stay at the Conrad with another property closer to Taksim Square or the Old Town area (at least on leisure trips).

Service was also quite good and HHonors elite recognition excellent.  It is a pity that Turkey has a bad recommendation at the moment regarding violence, which in my opinion is not warranted.  Nevertheless, the management team go to great lengths to allay such concerns.

Overall, a solid stay at a great property and I would recommend the Conrad Istanbul for anyone looking to visit Istanbul.

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