Established over a decade ago, this small, friendly hotel knows how to keep its guests happy. Its helped in its endeavours by a great location in a quiet side-street running at right angles to tourist-thronged Akbiyik Caddesi. After checking in, head straight up the stairs of this four-story townhouse (you'll have to take the stairs, as there's no elevator) to the roof terrace to get your bearings and enjoy a sweeping vista of the Sea of Marmara and Princes' Islands.
Rooms, all named after civilisations or dynasties that once flourished on what is today Turkish territory—Hittite, Byzantine, and Urartian amongst others—are on the compact side but still represent good value for this incredibly popular area. Décor is basic, with pastel walls enlivened by a few neoclassical features such as molded cornices, though most guests focus on the faux four-poster beds, an unusual feature in a budget hotel. The three rooms facing the peaceful street (Byzantium, Selcuk, and Ottoman) are for families, with a double and two single beds, and are lighter and airier than the standard rooms. If you want a sea-view room, the only option is the south facing, upper-floor Urartu room. The downstairs foyer has a decent traveller's library, though books are best read on the terrace, where a decent Turkish breakfast spread of cheese, olives, jam, and eggs is laid out each morning. The young guys looking after the place have a good sense of humour (they have to—they work long hours!) and are pretty helpful.