I recently spent three nights at the Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul. During my stay, I ate at two of its four restaurants and took a tour of the grounds and the palace. Here’s my review of this luxurious but approachable Istanbul hotel.
Things to Know About Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul
- The hotel sits right on the Bosphorus, with dramatic views of the Bosphorus Bridge. The beautiful grounds look out on the water.
- It’s just across the street from Yıldız Park and about a 20-minute cab ride from the historic center of the city.
- It’s really two hotels in one: the modern building, which has most of the rooms; and the historic palace with its 11 ultra-luxury suites.
- The recently renovated (2023) luxury hotel has a long history of famous guests including royalty, politicians, and celebrities including Oprah, Madonna, and Christian Louboutin.
- Ciragan is pronounced like “Shiran”
The Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul was my first stop after landing in Istanbul, and it was every ounce the oasis I wanted after the long flight. The hotel sits along the Bosphorus, one in a string of luxury hotels that line the water’s edge in the upscale Beşiktaş neighborhood. (Sort of unrelated, but recently, I think I caught sight of the hotel in the background of an Istanbul chase scene in the Apple TV show Slow Horses.)
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Bonus: It’s a popular place for lavish weddings, and in the evenings I liked strolling through the grounds to catch a glimpse of bejeweled brides and big, multi-generational wedding parties.
Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul Reviews
I’m not alone in loving this hotel. On Tripadvisor, Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul receives a 4.5 out of 5—as well as a Travelers’ Choice Award—from well over 2,500 reviewers. Similarly glowing, the hotel gets an 8.9 rating from both Kayak and Booking.com. Reviewers praise the beautiful surroundings and friendly staff.
Important Details About Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul
The Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul sits right on the European shore of the Bosphorus close to the Bosphorus Bridge and within hearing distance of the massive Çamlıca Mosque (sitting on my water-facing balcony, the breeze would carry the sounds of the call to prayer at points throughout the day, though the sliding door effectively blocked sound). It’s just across the street from the Central-Park-like Yıldız Park in the city’s upscale Beşiktaş neighborhood.
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From the hotel, it’s a 25-ish minute cab ride to the city’s Sultanahmet historic center, home to famous sights including the Haiga Sofia and Blue Mosque.
The hotel is on the site of a 17th century Ottoman palace, and has two buildings—the historic palace and a newer hotel building–connected by a walkway that details the history of the palace (it’s definitely worth a look). Most rooms are in the newer building, but a few of the most luxurious suites are in the palace.
Even if you’re not staying in the palace, though, you have an excuse to wander its halls because two of the hotel’s restaurants (Tuğra and Bellini) have beautiful homes there. And though many of the hotel’s interior spaces are lovely, my favorite aspect of the hotel are its beautifully landscaped grounds, tucked between the hotel buildings and the Bophorus. Here, you’ll find the pool and restaurant and bar seating.
The Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul has 317 rooms (including 21 suites) across two buildings. Most of the rooms are in the newer building, but are recently renovated and feel luxurious, polished, and very specific to Istanbul, with design details the hotel calls a “modernized version of the property’s Ottoman heritage.” Think gorgeous deep colors, luxurious textiles, and lots of patterns common in Ottoman art.
Rooms face either Yıldız Park or the Bophorus. Up to three people can stay in non-suite rooms, but there are connecting rooms for larger groups or families. During my stay, I was in a Bosphorus View Room with a balcony overlooking the bridge. The room felt elegant but not ostentatious, and every detail seemed to tell a story—so much so that I asked about some of the details at reception to find out the story of the patterns on the walls. The main building has most of the rooms, including 10 suites.
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The remaining 11 suites are in the historical palace. I stayed in the hotel building but got the chance to see a suite in the palace—it was gorgeous and over-the-top, think rare antiques, hammam-like marble bathrooms, and beautiful living rooms overlooking the water. A stay in the palace comes with unique perks like butler service and a personalized “soap and fragrance service,” which allows guests to learn about and select their own soaps, and involves a soap sword.
Istanbul has no shortage of incredible food, and I was impressed by the meals I ate at the hotel. I started with dinner at Tuğra, which occupies a lofty-ceilinged room in the Palace, and has views out over the water—and outdoor seating on the balcony. The menu features a lot of seasonal and local ingredients and modern interpretations of traditional Turkish cuisine.
My favorite meal at the hotel was the Çırağan Breakfast, the traditional Turkish breakfast at Gazebo. I sat at a table on the terrace and feasted as small plate after small plate came to the table. I tried breakfast borek, a pastry stuffed with cheese and spinach; various breakfast meats and cheeses; olives, cucumbers; breads with butter and jams; dried fruits like figs; honeycomb and clotted cream. And of course Turkish tea, served in ornate small glasses. The waitstaff was helpful in explaining what to each together, and telling me stories of how they grew up eating these breakfast specialties. The restaurant Gazebo also has an afternoon tea, and a pastry counter serving house-made chocolates, Turkish delight, macarons, and other pastries. I liked the chocolates so much I brought home a box to share with my family.
The hotel also has a cigar bar, an Italian restaurant, and a restaurant that has a breakfast buffet plus all-day service.
The hotel has its own Sanitas Spa near the hotel’s fitness center. Treatments include a Turkish bath ritual and massages that promote circulation. I didn’t have a spa treatment so I can’t speak to the experience, but it’s a pretty space.
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