Conjure up images of a flickering open fire, comfy sofas, shelves stacked with copious quantities of books, and an endless supply of fresh tea and homemade cookies. No, it's not your own living room, it's the ground floor of this stylish yet dignified Old City hotel, located up a narrow street a stone's throw from the late-Roman chariot racing circuit the Hippodrome, and opposite the blank stone wall of the former residence of the Ottoman grand vizier, Ibrahim Pasha. Two tall, narrow 19th-century townhouses have been expertly converted into one of the city's very best boutique hotels, within which each room hearkens back to the late Ottoman period. 

Aged Turkish rugs deck stripped wood floors, Orientalist prints line the soothing green walls, crisp white bed linens await beneath tasteful throws, and leather sofas lure you to sit and read in the soft light filtering in through the wooden blinds. Half the rooms are 15 meters square, the other half 25 meters square, with the size difference reflected in the rates. All have modern conveniences, and there's a handy changing/hanging room and bathrooms (stalls only) with handmade soaps.

Another bonus in the warmer months is the small roof terrace, with superb panoramas of Old City's domes and minarets. The best thing about this hotel, however, is the excellent concierge service—not least an excellent city-map backed by great recommendations of where to eat and stroll. Owner Mehmet spent many years as a tour guide and knows the city (and perhaps more importantly, what interests visitors) intimately—even if you don't get to speak with him, check out the fantastic selection of Istanbul- and Turkey-related books in the library.

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