“ Address: Address : Refik Saydam Cad.Tepebaşı Bulvarı 37 Şişhane-Beyoğlu „
This was the first and also the last hotel I stayed in on a recent trip to Turkey. We arrived here from the airport about 11 pm along with around 8 others. My first venture to Turkey was going to be a tour of it, and included was transportation to and from the airports and a tour guide.
...were good. Its an 8 floor building with 7 given over to rooms and the top one an a la carte restaurant which we didn't get to use, and some deluxe suites. The building looked clean and well maintained from the outside. The reception area is just to the left as you enter.
Check in went smoothly with us having little to do but loiter while our tour guide sorted out the various room cards and point us in the direction of the lifts. There are two sets of lifts at the Grand Halic, one is adjacent to the Reception area and one near the back of the building which we all had to use to get to our rooms. Perhaps the lifts at the front just serve the top floor suites, but in all the time I was there I didn't see anyone using them.
Between the reception desk and the rear set of lifts you walk past the bar area and then a large expanse of area with seating which seemed to serve as somewhere to meet other guests, probably just as well as we discovered how thin the walls were when we reached our room.
~ Room for a small one? ~
The room we had on both occasions were pretty much the same size (small) and in the same part of the hotel although on different floors. With limited light coming in through the narrow window which overlooked an alleyway and the adjacent building the rooms seem gloomier than they actually were. The furniture was of a dark wood which looked fairly tired. The room also had dark wooden flooring with a rug which I prefer over carpets in a hotel - especially given the warm weather here - but it probably doesn't really help conceal any noise pollution.
We found that in the morning when we needed to put the lights on to see anything it only added to the sombre look rather than looking quaint and rustic. Never mind, we wouldn't be staying there long.
The ensuite was of a decent size and more importantly was clean! The bath was tiny though, no doubt something Homebase would call a spacesaver. That wasn't an issue for either of us as we both opted to take showers while we were there but anyone hoping for a leisurely soak after a long day sightseeing will be disappointed. The shower, thankfully, was powerful and easy to use.
The TV was a flat screen (having seen loads of crts still in use in Turkish hotels that's not to be sneezed at) and a good size, though from memory only has the BBC world news in English. There's a kettle in the room, although they advise you not to drink tap water at the hotel. Despite that, I still drank boiled tap water with no ill effects. The cynic in me thinks that they would rather you buy over priced drinks from the minibars.
~ A good nights sleep was not had by all ~
What became apparent from almost as soon as we flopped down on the beds was that the sound proofing between rooms was non existent. Our neighbours the first night were young girls who were in the mood for partying until the wee small hours. Worse was their friends from down the corridor were coming and going frequently too.
One touch that should be nice is that the corridor lighting is by sensor so they switch off after some time if there's no activity. With our neighbours though we not only had the noise from next door, but their room door slamming shut and the corridor light going on and off (and streaming under our door like Morse code). Not funny when we needed to be up early the next morning to start our tour of Turkey.
Although I can't lay the blame for bad guests at the door of this hotel, especially as we didn't make them aware at the time there was a problem, there is a genuine need for the rooms to be better soundproofed. The second time we stayed here before returning to the Uk I was able to hear a conversation the woman next door was having with her husband while I was taking my shower.
Another consequence of being in a lower floor room - we were on the third floor of seven - is that you'll hear the water whooshing down the pipes from the rooms above. My guess is that they get a lot of coach tours passing through here and tend to keep them together on the lower floors, much like a holding pen. For anyone coming here under their own steam, my top tip is to ask for a room on a higher floor if possible.
Outside noise was minimal though, which was just as we'll as it was hot enough to need to have to leave the window open overnight. There is air con but if I sleep with it on I find it dries my throat and leaves me with a runny nose.
~ Facilities ~
Breakfast is served in their restaurant on the mezzanine floor and is a buffet. It wasn't really adventurous and the fruit juices were actually a sweet squash drink but never mind. Various cereals, cold meats and salads and an abundance of pastries or toast probably offered enough to please most guests I think.
Wifi should be available in the rooms but I couldn't get a connection in our room (322) on our second stay so I made use of a comfy sofa in the reception area where the signal was fine.
~ Value for money ~
Although the cost of the hotel and breakfast was included in our tour, the reception desk currently give the rack rate as being 170 Turkish lira for a double room for one night. That's about £60 which seems a good price given the location, but only if you're prepared to overlook any noise you might get from the other rooms. There's probably little that the staff can do to manage the noise anyhow without soundproofing the walls. I found the beds were comfortable and I did manage to get a good nights sleep once I'd dropped off.
.. is very good. In one direction is old Istanbul and the sights every first time visitor wants to see, via the Galata Bridge. The walk to the bridge is probably only about 15 minutes via what I call the lighting street. This had every conceivable lighting fixture an Istanbulite could possibly want with every shop seeming to sell the same recessed spotlights. Taksim Square for those wanting to shop was also a short walk away in the other direction.
One thing that quickly becomes apparent is how hilly Istanbul is. Not something that was a problem for me, but given that most of the local streets are narrow and cobblestoned, the less mobile may find the location of Grand Halic poses problems. One option is to take the funicular between Taksim Square and the other side of the Bosphorus but however you get around I would recommend wearing some decent footwear.
~ The Halic advantages ~
* You may be lucky enough to get a room at the front which overlooks the Bosphorus. Ours didn't.
What I found the staff to lack in friendliness they made up for in efficiency. That may be partly due to their dealing with large numbers of tour groups, but on both occasions we stayed here the checking in was efficient and quick.
* There were always two staff manning the reception whenever we passed through and the few that I spoke to were helpful and spoke good English. All the staff I saw here were men with the exception of one woman replenishing the breakfast supplies. She did a good job though as the breakfast buffet was also kept well stocked up despite the restaurant being busy.
* Both the room and ensuite were properly cleaned. The bathroom tiles were also clean, something worth noting given the state of the grouting on some of the other ensuites when we stayed in Turkey.
The not so grand...
* The free wifi has a weak signal which doesn't reach all the rooms.
* It probably has the thinnest walls of all the hotels we stayed in. They need better soundproofing.
* The rooms do have a safe in the wardrobe but they are tiny. We managed to leave our passports and some money in it, but it isn't big enough to fit an iPad in it.
~ Recommended? ~
If only for the location and also the breakfast buffet. If we were to venture back to Istanbul we would probably seek out a different hotel though.
Tepebasi Bulvari Refik Saydam Caddesi 153