That first journey when you arrive in a country is usually the toughest. Finding an ATM, getting to grips with the local public transport, juggling a map and a bag whilst searching for a hotel. Add to that a level of heat somewhat higher than this Brit usually has to contend with and you have yourself a challenge.
So when I burst through the doors of the unassuming SuB Hotel in the Karakoy district of Istanbul, I was in need of a cold drink and a sit down. The guy at the reception desk clearly knows his stuff though, as he showed me straight to a seat and offered me refreshment.
Three days later it had become clear to me that SuB is a hotel that recognises the importance of excellent customer service. The staff were all very welcoming and helpful without stepping over that unseen line were helpfulness becomes annoying. That wonderful welcome was merely an indication of what would follow.
The hotel itself is a little unusual. Anybody who likes a formal, modern, and dare I say stuffy hotel experience may well find SuB to be not to entirely to their tastes. The hotel has been designed with a particular look in mind and I feel that what I am about to say needs to done carefully….
“SuB has some attributes that seem to have more in common with a hostel. But in a good way.”
The reception area has a selection of used books for example. And the walls around reception are adorned with some interesting and “opinionated” art which compliments the attractive exposed brickwork. The cafe area next to reception has a charmingly hap hazard blackboard explaining the food options. Relaxing chilled music plays gently in the background at all times creating a wonderful atmosphere. These are all plus points. I loved sitting in the cafe area, tapping my toe to the superb tunes whilst I planned my daily adventures.
The rooms, mine was spotlessly clean by the way, are also a little unlike your average hotel room. My bed had a metal head board painted in bright red. The door to the bathroom was also made of heavy riveted metal. Neither of which was an issue, and some three weeks later I remember this clearly, which can only be a good thing.
The Star of the Show
The star of the show though, bettering even the superb staff, was the excellent breakfast. Every morning a large buffet of cheeses, breads, meats, jams, biscuits and more is crammed onto a large table. Eggs are cooked to order and the chef even brought us out his own special creation. On day one we had a delicious panna cotta and on our third morning we were offered a rice pudding which was a challenger to my mother’s. There is a culinary genius hidden in the SuB kitchen I think. And if you stay, be sure to try the home made hazelnut spread. It is wonderful.
The hotel is located in a great area. It is only a 10 minute stroll from the Karakoy metro stop which takes you quickly across the Golden Horn to the major attractions. Close by is also the interesting Tunel train, a short funicular line which climbs the steep hill up to the shopping street of Istiklal Cad and Taksim Square. Karakoy itself has a great selection of small restaurants, some overlooking the Bosphurus Straight. These are no more than 5 minutes walk from SuB.
I paid just under 100 Euros per night for a double room, which when compared to other hotels in Istanbul seems about right.
Competition seems strong in Istanbul so I don’t doubt there are better hotels in this price bracket. But if you are a semi retired backpacker like me, with a love of relaxing music and great food, SuB is probably the place for you.
My Explorations in Istanbul