In a nutshell: the Tomtom Suites Istanbul is an excellent boutique hotel offering large, comfortable rooms in a historic building with a top-floor restaurant that serves an excellent breakfast with views of the Bosporus. The hotel in close proximity to the shopping along Istiklal Caddesi, and you can also easily catch the tram into the old city. This would be my first choice of hotel if headed back to Istanbul.
The Tomtom Suites Istanbul was the last of the three hotels I picked for my brief time exploring Turkey’s largest city. I spent the first night at the Nish Palas and the following one at the Park Hyatt Istanbul. The Tomtom Suites Istanbul isn’t in the same neighborhood as the other two hotels, but it is easy to reach by taxi. The hotel is also the most boutique of the three I picked, with just 20 rooms.
Booking the Tomtom Suites Istanbul
The Tomtom Suites is a Small Luxury Hotel (SLH) property that participates in the World of Hyatt program. Like the Park Hyatt a couple kilometers away, it is a Category 4 property, requiring 15,000 points per night. Cash rates were over €180 per night before taxes, and I elected to use a Category 1-4 free night certificate I’d earned when I hit the 30-night milestone reward this year.
Stays at SLH properties include a number of benefits for World of Hyatt members, including:
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Daily complimentary continental breakfast for two guests
- Room upgrade (one category at check-in if available)
- Early check-in (noon, based upon availability at check-in)
- Late check-out (2:00pm, based upon availability at check-in)
I’d end up using every one of these benefits during my stay. But I was in for even more of a surprise during my stay!
A Unique Arrival Experience
I took a cab to the Tomtom Suites after checking out of the Park Hyatt. Similar to the previous day, my plan was to check in early, drop my stuff, and head out to explore the city all day. This would turn out to be my best day in Istanbul, as I had both a Bosporus boat tour and a hammam visit on the agenda. Given the state of travel, I figured the hotel would have no problem checking me in at 9:30 AM.
The taxi couldn’t get me quite to the hotel. There are pylons blocking the entrance to Tomtom Kaptan Street, and he dropped me about 100 meters from the hotel. This was no issue, but keep it in mind if you have a lot of luggage. I have to imagine that there is a way to enter and exit the street, as I saw other cars passing through successfully.
The Tomtom Suites Istanbul is located in a neat old building that was formerly a convent. The “Franciscan Nuns’ House” as it was called, is over 100 years old. Across the street is the Italian consulate. I read the historical sign and admired the art in the entryway before continuing into the lobby.
Although the hotel is within an old stone building, you’d never know it from the modern style of the lobby. The receptionist at the front desk greeted me warmly, asking, “you must be Mr. Snyder?” This caught me off guard. I’ve only been greeted once by name before check-in, and it was only because I arrived super late. It’s pretty easy to guess the name of the remaining guest to check into a completely full hotel.
It turns out is was even easier in the case of the Tomtom Suites. The front desk informed me that I was the only person checking in that day. The hotel had no guests the previous night, nor did they have any booked for the following night. I would very literally have the hotel to myself.
I’d figured occupancy would be down, but I didn’t expect to be the only person at the hotel. The Park Hyatt had felt deserted, but I did manage to spot a few other guests during my stay. This takes things to a new level.
According to the receptionist, the Tomtom Suites never closed during the pandemic, which surprised me. The hotel went for several weeks without a single guest during the spring. He did comment that they had roughly 50 guests over the weekend, so things are on the upswing. I can’t imagine how much money they have lost this year, though.
It did occur to me that I may not even be helping by staying on points. I’m curious how much Hyatt reimburses SLH properties for award stays. I have to imagine it is more than for their own brands.
The hotel did upgrade me nicely to one of their Deluxe Suites. The bellman accompanied me to my room and insisted on carrying my luggage. This was rather over the top, as I had only a small sports duffel and light backpack. But hey, it’s a 5-star hotel and they had a service standard to provide for their only guest.
Each floor at the Tomtom Suites has no more than 7 rooms. There were 6 on the third floor, which is where I stayed. The bellman gave me a little tour of the room in broken English and then went on his way.
While not a true suite with separate bedroom, a Deluxe Suite at the Tomtom Suites is very large and stylish. It’s definitely more understated than the Park Hyatt, but I really liked the room. The art and large windows in the old building brought some life to the space.
I usually spent time (sometimes too much) at the desk working at least a little bit while traveling, and I always appreciate a comfortable desk. While the chair and desk are comfortable, an outlet is difficult to access. The desk also had information on the hotel, the restaurant, and a cool Tomtom Suites postcard.
While not intended, the welcome letter offered a bit of irony that the hotel was delighted to “have me as their guest.” Yes. Their only guest. There were a couple other details provided on the facilities, including that breakfast would be available on the top floor terrace and the hotel restaurant Nicole was closed.
The bathroom was exceptionally nice. You have a large shower, deep tub, and double sink. Everything is in one large room. While I preferred my stay at the Tomtom Suites overall, the bathroom at the Park Hyatt definitely outshines this one.
The entryway contains the kettle, minibar, and snacks and Turkish wine for purchase. It always amazes me that luxury hotels in some parts of the world provide Nescafe. This first blew my mind when we were staying at the Hyatt Regency Palais de la Méditerranée in Nice, France. This was my first introduction to super nice Hyatt hotels, and I couldn’t believe instant coffee was acceptable. Then again, it is France, and the better choice is to grab an espresso at a café down the street.
I did enjoy the bottle of Turkish red wine during the evening. I’d never even heard of Öküzgözü, a grape varietal native to Turkey.
Although my room was a few floors up, there wasn’t much of a view due to the trees across the street. I can barely see the Sea of Marmara to the south. The view from the fop floor restaurant, however, is quite nice.
Overall, I really liked my room at the Tomtom Suites. It was spacious, well-appointed, and I slept quite well that night (at least compared to the previous two).
Breakfast at the Tomtom Suites Istanbul
The room key card holder had the breakfast hours printed on it. The front desk had not mentioned that the Tomtom Suites Istanbul hosts a tea time, but I would guess it is canceled during COVID-19. It would just be weird for them to provide it for one guest. Plus, I wouldn’t even be at the hotel during that time anyway.
Heading up to the top floor terrace just before 8:00 AM, I found it appropriately deserted. Well, except for the place setting. Was I to have a guest? Maybe they were about to surprise me.
The server appeared after a minute. He was pretty standoffish and didn’t speak English all that well. He said they had a Turkish breakfast for me, and I said that sounded fantastic. And, man, it was. Fruit, vegetables, chees, nuts, olives, smoked salmon, and an assortment of bread are far more than enough for one person for breakfast. It was a bummer I was flying solo this trip.
The manager came up from the front desk during breakfast to see if I needed anything. Given the amazing breakfast spread, I was set. But this was an especially kind gesture. Gotta check on your only guest!
The top-floor restaurant does offer decent views of the Bosporus and old city. At the top of the hill in the distance are the Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia, both of which I visited the previous day.
Hotel Amenities and Character
The Tomtom Suites isn’t all that big with just 20 rooms. I poked around on every floor, heading up and down the beautiful marble staircase.
Besides the lovely edifice and artwork, the Tomtom Suites offers a small library off to the side of the lobby for guests to enjoy. If I’d have had more time, it would have been nice to enjoy reading about this fascinating city as well as exploring it.
The hotel also offers small meeting facilities. There is no pool or exercise facilities. But walking the streets of Istanbul should provide all the exercise you need.
The hotel location is one of the best features. The other World of Hyatt hotels are much further from the city center. You can certainly access the metro or take a taxi (which are cheap), but the Tomtom Suites location lets you easily access everything by foot. It’s a quick 2-minute walk up the hill to Istiklal Caddesi. This is a long pedestrian shopping street that stretches from Taksim Square all the way to the Galata Tower.
If you head down the hill, you’ll be at the tram station in less than 5 minutes. Here you can catch the tram to take you to Sultanahmet and all the sights in the old city. If you want to stretch your legs, it’s maybe a 15-minute walk to Galata Bridge. This was the place that the guidebook suggested you start your visit of Istanbul, and it isn’t wrong. Enjoy getting your bearings at the Golden Horn for a bit and then head out to explore.
Final Thoughts as the Only Guest at the Tomtom Suites Istanbul
From the friendly staff, to the comfortable accommodations, to the excellent breakfast spread, I really enjoyed my stay at the Tomtom Suites. It was a unique experience to be the only guest, and while at first I thought it might be creepy, it was actually an interesting twist to have the hotel to oneself. As a Category 4 World of Hyatt property, you can definitely get good value from your points or from your Category 1-4 free night certificates, like I did. I just suggest you stay more than one night at the Tomtom Suites Istanbul, unless you like to hotel hop like I do!