This is the second of eleven posts on Istanbul. Check out our other posts here:
- Introduction to Istanbul
- 4 Nights at the Magnificent Park Hyatt Istanbul
- Hagia Sophia: Church, Mosque, and Now Museum
- Cheap Eats in Istanbul!
- Istanbul’s Magnificent Mosques
- Turkish Food is Quite a Delight!
- Suleymaniye Hamami: A Mixed Gender Turkish Bath
- Shopping at the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar in Istanbul
- Istanbul’s Other Sights: The Topkapi Palace & Basilica Cistern
- Crossing the Bosphorous Strait: A Day Trip from Europe to Asia
- Lounge Deathmatch: Turkish Airlines vs. Cathay Pacific
After a grueling 2 connections and 20 hours of flying, Mrs. Selfish and I finally arrived in Istanbul. A good 10 hours ahead of our home time zone, Mrs. Selfish and I were pretty beat, but there were places to go, things to see, food to eat.
Having recently attained diamond status through the Hyatt Diamond challenge, I was pretty excited to check out the Park Hyatt Istanbul. Mrs. Selfish and I have stayed at the Park Hyatt Zurich, Sydney, and Tokyo (where we pumped iron with Arnold Schwarzenegger), so I was looking forward to seeing whether or not the Park Hyatt Istanbul lives up to those other fabulous hotels.
Short answer: it does.
Getting there and booking the award
The Park Hyatt Istanbul is located 15 minutes outside of Istanbul’s old town, in a relatively quiet, posh, side of town. The closest attraction is Taksim Square, which is only 5 minutes away by cab. While its distance away from the main tourist traps ensures you’ll get a quiet night’s sleep, it also means you can’t get there by public transportation.
With that in mind we opted to take a taxi from the airport. The taxi cost roughly 70 Turkish Lira (~$34 USD), and was a pretty painless experience. Not only did the cabbie speak English, but he also ran the meter – score!
The lobby – usually stocked with complimentary cheese or cookies.
The Park Hyatt Istanbul is a category 5 hotel, which means it costs 20,000 points per night for an award night. I booked the room for 4 nights at the cash + points rate, which is 10,000 points + $125 a night.
While I would have preferred to pay in points, paying with cash + points had two side benefits: 1) I was able to use a diamond suite certificate to upgrade us to one of the hotel’s coveted Spa Rooms, 2) all 4 nights counted toward Hyatt’s 1st quarter promotion, which meant we only needed one more night at a Hyatt property to earn a free night at a category 1-4 hotel!
They even have a complimentary cheese platter every night, with freshly sliced smoked turkey – delicious!
Thanks to a diamond suite upgrade certificate, we ended up in one of the Park Hyatt Istanbul’s spa rooms. While not technically a suite, the room is pretty spacious.
Plenty of space to store our luggage!
The room also came with a diamond gift, which was a bowl of fresh fruit and a bottle of wine. The fruit was refreshing and tasty, while the wine was… awful. In hindsight, I probably would have opted for the 1,000 Hyatt points instead.
The main selling point of the room, however, is the bathroom. The Spa Room comes with… a Turkish Spa (duh!).
Having grown accustom to saunas during our Selfish Year of travels, and since it was quite chilly in Istanbul, Mrs. Selfish and I enjoyed soaking in the spa room after a busy day of exploring the city.
Sauna on the left, odd Turkish traditional bathing area on right
The bathroom also came with a bath, which was quite nice and came with a “mood light” that alternated between 4 different colors. Fancy!
Breakfast at the Park Hyatt Istanbul is a mix of standard continental fare with a huge splash of local foods. For our first few days we opted for room service and tried to order as many different Turkish dishes as possible.
Breakfast is…awesome. Here’s some of the dishes we tried.
Menemen with scrambled eggs, tomato, pepper and chili flakes. Sour and savory, it was a nice take on scrambled eggs.
Spiced brown lentils, sucuk, and fried egg. Lentils mixed with a spiced sausage hash, topped with a fried egg. Our favorite dish by far.
Open faced omelet, tomatoes, sucuk, and cheese. Good, but not as different from a normal sausage and egg breakfast as I’d like.
Bread basket – check out the bread rings in the back – that’s simit, a sesame bread ring. Done properly, it’s awesome. Here, it was a little stale, though still good.
They even had watermelon juice, Mrs. Selfish’s favorite juice in the whole wide world.
As good as room service was, we decided to it would be best to see how breakfast was in the restaurant – for science!
The spread was pretty great, though no different from what you can get in your room. That being said, I was a huge fan of getting more simit and smoked turkey without having to get the accompanying continental breads and meats.
Mmmm, nom, nom, nom…
We also decided to try some of the Western breakfast options. I ordered the vanilla waffle and Mrs. Selfish ordered the pancakes.
The pancakes were delicate and oh-so-thin, served with stewed seasonal fruit and Canadian maple syrup. So good.
The vanilla waffle was excellent as well, with the vanilla flavor coming through without overpowering the waffle’s natural tastiness.
All and all we had 4 days of delicious (and free) breakfasts at the Park Hyatt Istanbul. I can still taste the sucuk.
While it was a little off the beaten path, the Park Hyatt Istanbul is an excellent hotel, and well worth a visit. From the service, to the food, to the spa I thoroughly enjoyed ever minute we spent there. Even better, we were able to pay with cash & points, which means we are now 4/5 of the way to a free night, which we will use for our next trip.
Join us tomorrow when Mrs. Selfish will discuss some of Istanbul’s delicious cheap eats!