Lotus Suite Review
During a short break in Istanbul, two SSA's members had the pleasure to stay at the Lotus Suite in Beyoglu and to review it personally. The Lotus Suite is part of a restored building exclusively dedicated to apartment rentals for short stays. The area is called Beyoglu and it is located in the European side of Istanbul; this is an international home for tourists, expats and students from all over the world, but also a great place to savoir the modern face of Turkey and the local culture without the hassle of gadget shops or other tourist traps.
The apartments’ building is located just off a main semi-pedestrian avenue called Istiklal Caddesi (La Grande Rue). This connects Taksim Square, the most central square of Istanbul, to Tünel and the panoramic Galata Tower. The whole avenue throbs with life: a stream of young people, locals and tourists, stroll along the avenue and fill the modern and traditional cafes, open-air brasseries, patisseries, as well street food markets and international brands shops. The area is always buzzing with life and especially at night it is livened up by the lights and sounds of clubs, bars and restaurants.
We found that one of the main advantages of this location is its vicinity to the city transport connections.
Tip: buy a public transport pass (akbil) from the Akbil stand for total comfort. You can use it on metro, tram and funicular and it saves you a lot of time and stress!
The main monuments ‘area called Sultanahmet and the famous Bazaar as well as the Spice Bazaar can be easily reached by funicular plus tram in 10 minutes; simply take a 5-minute stroll to Tünel and take the funicular (only one stop) down to Karaköy, then swap for the tram and get off at Sultanahmet.
In Taksim Square there is another metro stop (also funicular) that connects to the tram stop of kabatş. Also in Taksim is the bus station where you can catch a bus to any of the two Istanbul airports (Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen). Havaş is the company that manages these connections.
However, if you book an airport transfer with the local apartment’s management of the Lotus Suite they take you right at the apartment’s door or from the apartment to the airport for about 35 Euros. We booked the transfer from Atatürk Airport to the Lotus Suite and the driver was waiting for us at the arrival hall, even after a one-hour delay (due to visa bureaucracy), then helped with the luggage and drove us right at the Lotus Suite door in 20 minutes. It is really worth it!
Home cooking or restaurants
The area is served by lots of food shops, cafes and restaurants. Just around the corner, on the main street (Istiklal) is a fashionable and cozy cafe called The House Cafe’s where you can have international breakfast, brunch or relax in front of a coffee. This is open until late at night like most cafes and restaurants here.
For delicious Mediterranean meals try the typical mezes (Turkish appetizers), like the famous vine leaves wraps, that you can find at the restaurants in the ex flower market Çiçek Pasaji; nowadays this market or passage is filled with upper scale restaurants than taverns, so if you prefer something less formal you can try one of the places on Sahne Sokak just around the corner from it. We had a fresh mezes selection and a delicious fish dinner at one of these open-air restaurants.Walking down towards Tünel, on the right hand side of the main avenue Istiklal, you will find many quaint side streets and squares with crooked up bars and restaurants around them.
Also around the Galata Tower there are various international restaurants as well as local taverns. The atmosphere is totally relaxed and you can enjoy anything, from a glass of Turkish tea to a full meal in one of the verdant terraces.
If you like cooking or if you want to have a break from eating out and save some money, you can buy excellent and healthy food in Beyoglu. Just 2 streets up from the Galatasaray Square, on the right, there is a mini-market that sells anything you may need for your stay; however, we recommend the street food markets for fresh fruit and vegetables (but keep an eye on the weight/price). You can find various fruit stalls, bakeries, fish and eggs shops next to the ex flower market called Çiçek Pasaji. Shops generally close quite late, around 9.30 p.m.
The apartment Lotus Suite boasts a lovely terrace furnished with a big garden table, chairs and a parasol. The partial view over the Bosphorus and the next door St. Antoine Church make it a very romantic setting for a home cooked dinner. We enjoyed fresh tomatoes and cheese, local bread (pide, ekmek), cherries and many more fresh fruits here.
When we reached the building of the Lotus Suite we thought we were in a quaint little area, typically hilly like the rest of Istanbul, but isolated and far away from the main street. Only when we walked around the corner with the apartment’s manager, who kindly showed us around, did we realize that we were right in the middle of action. Istiklal Caddesi is 20 meters away, just around the corner from the building.
The whole building is exclusively dedicated to short stays and it has been recently restored; both the interior and the façade look new, which makes a really good impression at first sight. Unfortunately there is no lift, so this is not advisable for disabled people or the elderly.
After four flights of stairs we reached the Lotus Suite, a pure white, open space, top-floor apartment with a large terrace. The white furniture and the blue decorative touches give this cool apartment a modern feel; the wooden and terracotta floor as well as the original beamed ceiling grant it a cozy ambience. Basically we loved it as soon as we walked in!
The Lotus Suite feels quite roomy even if it is a compact space. The bathroom features a modern and spacious walk-in shower and a toilet; the sink with a make-up mirror are separated from the bathroom, as they are in the area next to the wardrobe and a full-length mirror, so accessible even if the bathroom is occupied. This cozy corner is very practical and it made us save a lot of time when the two of us were getting ready to go out at the same time.
The kitchenette is fully equipped with pots and pans, cutlery, dishes, a kettle and a coffee maker. A dishwasher, an oven and fridge really granted all the independence we needed to be able to cook at home sometimes and prepare our breakfast before an intense day of sightseeing.
The double bed is quite impressive in size and very, very comfortable. At the foot of the bed is a two-seat sofa with a white cover that makes it look like a soft cloud, a stylish round glass table with chairs and a shelf with a DVD player and an LCD satellite TV facing the bed; in our relaxing time, before going out or before bed, we watched the international news.
The Wi-Fi internet connection made it really easy to keep in touch with the office and our families while in Istanbul. It was as simple as inserting a password provided by the manager and there we were… connected to the rest of the world!
However, the most impressive feature of the Lotus Suite was the glass sliding door opening on the spacious terrace. The door takes the whole wall between the suite and the terrace and it is framed by wooden parts while the glass has a special mirror effect at night that make it very stylish…
The view - We enjoyed the modern terrace both at breakfast and dinner thanks to the big wooden table and chairs and the white parasol. Its wooden floor made it really enjoyable, just like a private garden with the advantage of the romantic view over the Golden Horn.
The Management - The manager’s office is in the same building, also in case you need any assistance he is always on call. He is an ex executive director of international companies with a lot of travelling experience who decided to take it easier and set up his own family-run business in his native city, Istanbul. He went as far as taking some time on the day of our arrival to show us the surrounding area and point the main shops or transport stops to us, giving us advice that came very handy later on. Turkish hospitality is not just a legend…
Everything was organized to perfection (transfer, arrival, information about amenities and contact in case of need). The cleaning is carried out twice a week and toilet paper, kitchen rolls, washing liquid and capsules, hand soap, sugar were provided, which makes a pleasant surprise when you only plan to stay there for a city break.
We would recommend the Lotus Suite and the other apartments (Cornflower, Periwinkle, Echinops, Lilac Suites and Anemone) to young people and active guests who like a lively environment and can survive without a lift. The apartments are decorated in a decidedly contemporary style, well suited to Western travelers.