Do not be put off by the odd patch of peeling flocked wallpaper, scuffed dark wood furniture, badly-fitted air conditioning units, or tiny bathrooms fitted with the cheapest '70s-era vintage tiles. There's nowhere else where you can stay in a seriously fin de siècle hotel, right in the heart of the trendiest part of the city, with prices starting at just €50. Apart from when they are catching up on a few Z's, few regulars (and there are many) spend much time in their less-than-pristine, high-ceilinged, double-doored rooms, as there is so much nightlife around and about. And if they are by some chance to be found in the hotel, in cool weather they'll likely be in the downstairs lobby bar, with its velvet drapes and gilt-edged Victorian furniture—little changed since the hotel was opened in 1881—having quiet words with the caged but talkative African grey parrot in the corner. In warm weather, they're to be found on the roof terrace, cold beer in hand, watching the sun set over the Old City and Golden Horn to the southwest.
The hotels in this neighborhood were built largely to accommodate travellers arriving from Europe on the Orient Express. The nearby Pera Palace has, however, lost much of its raffish charm in a major overhaul in 2011, and the even closer Bristol Hotel is now the wonderful Pera Museum. So, until the inevitable major upgrade takes place, the Grand Hotel de Londres, as it was originally known, offers visitors a last chance to enjoy the faded grandeur of the Golden Age of travel at hostel prices. Oh, and Hemingway stayed here back in the roaring '20s, so you'll be following in some impressive footsteps. Note that the economy rooms have little in the way of views, although the smarter, larger, and much more expensive front-facing rooms have balconies and panoramas over parts of the Golden Horn and Old City.