Where to Stay in Istanbul: Hotel Tulip House
When you get off the tram line at Sultanahmet, walk past the Hippodrome, once the center of Constantinople’s (Istanbul) political and athletic life. As you walk through the Hippodrome you’ll pass the Obelisk of Thutmosis and the Serpent Column, an ancient Greek sacrificial tripod that was originally housed in Delphi. You can’t miss the Serpent Column since it’s right in front of the Blue Mosque on your left and is surrounded by fencing. On your right, you’ll see a hotel with an inviting restaurant in front of it. That’s not the hotel you’re staying at, but your Istanbul hotel is nearby. Keep walking.
Across the road from that hotel, you’ll enter a residential area where on the left side of the road you’ll find wall murals depicting images of Istanbul. Walk a few blocks down past the murals and turn right. If you see a cart full of fresh pomegranates on the corner where you’re to turn right, you’ll know that you’re headed in the right direction.
As you walk, you’ll likely see Turkish kids playing in the road and Turkish moms hanging clothes on the laundry lines overhead. They will greet you with warm smiles. Return them in kind.
Turn left at the first available corner and walk a few blocks until the street dead ends and turn left again. A few hundred yards up the road, you’ll see the sign for your hotel on the right. Alas, about ten minutes after passing the Blue Mosque, you’ve arrived at Hotel Tulip House!
Sit down in the reception area as your host checks you in. Don’t refuse when you’re offered tea. Get comfortable. Here, in the reception area, you can use the computer and even Skype your friends and family back home. Just be courteous and use earphones. But if you’d rather use your own laptop, take advantage of the free WI-FI.
You can either stay downstairs near the outdoor breakfast area where your room will be a bit less expensive, or you may opt for an upstairs room where you’ll have views of the sea and a balcony if you’re lucky. Settle in and get cozy, but keep your voices down as this intimate hotel only has nine rooms and hallways that echo. Unless you’re loud, the only time this quiet hotel fills with any noise is during the gently soothing azan which rings out from nearby mosques.
When you awake from a sound night’s sleep, get ready for breakfast downstairs in the covered outdoor eating area. It’s a Promised Land that’s overflowing with milk and honey. Fill up on the fresh breads, pastries, boiled eggs, vegetables, cheese, juices, and coffee on offer as you’ll need all of the energy you can get to explore this culturally rich city.
After a day out and about in Istanbul, feel free to chat with your personable hosts in the reception area. They’ll teach you a little Turkish, recommend some great places for dinner, and generally offer a listening ear and sound advice for your travels. Use this time and space to get to know some of the other guests as well.
When your stay is up and it’s time to say your goodbyes, you’ll feel like you’re leaving behind old friends. But stay in touch with them through Facebook and e-mail – they will appreciate you occasionally checking in to say ‘hello’. When it’s time to leave, you’ll more than likely have an instinctive feeling that a return visit to Istanbul is inevitable. And when you return, your hosts at Hotel Tulip House will welcome you back with open arms.