Over breakfast at the Novotel Istanbul Bosphorus Hotel on my last morning in Istanbul, I realized what I was especially going to miss from my time in Turkiye — the food. And in particular, I was going to miss starting my days at the copious morning buffets at this comfortable Karaköy-district hotel.
Here’s the scoop:
Breakfast with a View
Turkiye (formerly known as Turkey) has long been known for its breakfasts, and most hotels across the country, from boutique lodgings like the Witt Istanbul to deluxe properties like the Ciragan Palace Kempinski, serve some version of the popular breakfast buffet. While I ate well across Istanbul, I loved beginning my day with the Novotel’s breakfast spread.
Breakfast is served on the hotel’s top floor in a window-lined space with views across the water to Istanbul’s Asian shore and to the old city.
Stations are set up throughout the room for salads, pickles, and olives; cheeses, eggs, and meats; yogurts and fresh fruits; breads, rolls, and pastries; and dried fruits, nuts, and sweets.
There are several types of jams and spreads, fresh juices, a selection of teas, and an espresso maker. Staff circulate with coffee and tea and will make you a cappuccino, espresso, or americano if you don’t want to help yourself. Some days, chefs prepare pancakes or eggs to order.
Not all room rates include breakfast, but if you love a hearty morning meal, it’s worth adding on this excellent assortment of foods and drinks.
Other Facilities and Services
The hotel has a Michelin-starred restaurant, Mürver, also on the top floor, which serves lunch and dinner. Meals start with mezze, like smoked yogurt with cucumber and garlic or pide topped with kokoreç (lamb tripe), while the main menu emphasizes meats and fish grilled over an open fire.
The spacious Novotel lobby could easily accommodate a large group that needed to chat or to assemble before heading out into the city. It’s filled with couches and tables, with plenty of space to work, as well as a bar and another restaurant.
On the lower level is a small fitness facility and indoor pool.
Many of the hotel staff speak English and are quick to assist with baggage or other requests.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
Guest rooms at the Novotel Istanbul feel somewhat spare, but they’re modern and comfortable, with white bedding, grey sofas, orange or gold accents, and wood finishes. Business-friendly amenities include work desks with electrical outlets and USB ports, safes, and good WiFi. You can control the room lights from bedside switches and charge your devices in the outlets by the bed.
Standard rooms have small sofas, some of which can convert to an extra bed. TVs are mounted on the wall.
In the standard rooms, you’ll have a tea kettle along with tea bags and packets of instant coffee. The larger and pricier “executive” rooms have espresso machines. Complimentary mineral water is provided, and the minibars are stocked with drinks and snacks.
The bathrooms have rain showers and separate toilet rooms. A translucent wall separates the shower from the bedroom, which you can change to transparent by pressing a switch. A fun feature, although the lighting in the bathroom itself could be brighter.
There’s lots of construction in the neighborhood, so for a quieter stay, consider requesting a room facing the hotel’s inner courtyard. I stayed in two different rooms on the first floor — one looking toward the courtyard and one facing the street. Although my courtyard room faced the roof of a structure below and had no view at all, it was noticeably quieter.
Smoking is allowed in some of the guest rooms. Request a room on a non-smoking floor if smoke bothers you.
The Novotel is located in Karaköy, near luxe hotels like the JW Marriott and the Peninsula. It’s just outside the redeveloped Galataport district, which houses Istanbul’s cruise ship terminal, a huge shopping mall with shops stocking international brands, and a variety of cafés and restaurants. Galataport is also home to the city’s main contemporary art gallery, Istanbul Modern, which is slated to reopen in a new building in 2023.
It’s a short walk from the Novotel along the waterfront toward the Karaköy ferry port, where you can catch a boat across to the Asian shore. If you don’t mind a steep uphill climb, you can also walk up to the historic Galata Tower and to many city-center attractions.
Directly behind the Novotel is Galata Simitçisi, an excellent bakery specializing in freshly baked simit, Turkiye’s version of a bagel. A block away is Karaköy Güllüoğlu, which — deservedly — is among the city’s most famous spots for baklava.
From these top-notch snacks to the city’s many excellent restaurants, you’ll eat well during your Istanbul stay. Particularly if you begin your day at the Novotel Istanbul’s ample breakfast buffet.
Standard double room rates at the Novotel Istanbul Bosphorus start at approximately US$200/night. Rates including the breakfast buffet typically start at about $20/day more. You can also go to Booking.com to look for a better rate and make your reservation there.
Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Turkiye Tourism Promotion & Development Agency hosted my stay at the Novotel Istanbul Bosphorus for research purposes.