My coworker and I decided to stop in Istanbul after a business trip and after much research, booked our stay at Hotel Amira. We got their cultural package which included a half day tour, airport transfers, and chocolate fondue upon arrival.
The service we received at the hotel far exceeded our expectations! We were so pleased with how well the reception desk employees knew us and our schedules, and how accommodating they were when things didn't go right.
When we arrived, it was late at night, almost midnight, and the airport transfer was waiting for us. We were whisked away to the hotel, where we received a map and some recommendations of places to go and things to do. We also immediately got talked into upgrading our cultural package from a half day tour to a half day + a full day private tour for only 100 euro more. The hotel also assisted us in forming our trip itinerary, booking a showing of the twirling dervishes on Sunday night and a Monday morning trip to the Aya Sophia Hammam.
Initially I was a bit put off by the immediate request to upgrade our tour package. I also misunderstood when booking that the tour we booked (to see the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, etc.) actually does not include a tour guide to cut in line, whereas the private tours do. Due to our time constraint of being in Istanbul for only 2 full days, we took the receptionist's advice and booked the private tour. I'm so glad we did! If we hadn't, there is no way we could have seen everything in 2 days. Having the guide allowed us to enter into a different line for both ticketing and admission into all the historical sights (except the Blue Mosque--there are no entrance fees or ability to cut in line to enter mosques). This cut our wait time tremendously!
My only gripe is the guide herself. First of all she was late. Then, she was unable to answer our questions on the tour, took us to an expensive restaurant and very awkwardly sat down to eat lunch with us (and didn't offer to pay for her own meal, so we ended up paying for her), and refused to take us into the Blue Mosque because she estimated the wait time to be 1-2 hours when it actually took only 20-30 minutes. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the efficiency she provided but when I book a private tour I expect to be able to set my own itinerary, communicate the sights I want to see, and be taken to those no matter how long it takes to wait. We ended up having to take a cab to see a few other things she refused to take us to ("It's too far away, we don't have time" is what we were told...but we ended up finishing the tour at least 2 hours early!). Not cool when you were expecting to have an unlimited amount of time with a tour guide.
That being said, when we communicated these things to Hotel Amira staff they were so apologetic, and paid for our cab to the twirling dervishes later that evening. We were not expecting compensation of any kind but didn't want other tourists to go through what we went through with her.
We loved our stay at Hotel Amira! The beds are indeed like sleeping on clouds, the breakfast spread is extensive, and the afternoon tea delightful. I would highly recommend this hotel!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Amira Istanbul is a boutique hotel located at the heart of the centuries old empires' capital. Some remarkable neighbors of the Hotel Amira Istanbul are the great Hagia Sophia, the magnificent Blue Mosque, the mystic Basilica Cistern, the imperial Topkapi Palace and the colorful Grand Bazaar. Amira Hotel offers you spaciously designed 32 rooms in Sultanahmet area, featuring very comfortable visco mattresses, local touches like ottoman style hand-made ceiling paintings and high-tech amenities such as mobile wireless internet modem that you can use also outside the property while discovering Istanbul . Along with its world famous cordial guest services, Amira Hotel offers a rich , complimentary buffet breakfast and a tasty 5 O'clock tea treats, free Wi-Fi access, a business corner with featuring an iMac, in house ATM machine, a wellness center that includes a gym, jacuzzi, sauna and massage services. Also our concierge would be more than happy to assist you in every aspect of your stay, whether business or pleasure. ... more less
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