You'd probably expect an hotel fashioned from a late 19th-century distillery by the architect couple who own it to be a very high-standard conversion. In the case of Sumahan on the Water, you'd be dead right. You'd probably also expect an hotel run by a Turkish-American partnership to get the balance right between the Turkish and American ways of doing things. Again you'd be quite right. This elegant yet cozy little boutique hotel, so close to the continent-dividing Bosphorus strait that you can hear the splash as the cormorants dive for fish, is a great testament to the hard work and vision of architects and owners Nedret and Mark Butler. Lounging on the crisp white cotton sheets of your bed and gazing out of the large windows at tankers and container ships gliding silently by en route to or from the Black Sea is endlessly fascinating, especially when a flock of shearwaters skim in their wake, or a school of porpoise leap playfully in the bow stream.

There are six different categories of room, from small deluxe to executive suites, each with their own character and features. Visit in winter and rooms with fireplaces may appeal the most, while in summer the suites with garden access may have more attraction. Whichever room you go for, it's all been done in the best possible taste, with neutral walls, pale wood floors, and exposed metal beams—minimalist yet never austere. The hotel is a few miles out of the centre—the quiet and access to the charming little village of Çengelköy is part of the attraction of Sumahan—but the hotel's launch will take you to and from Kabatas, from where it's an easy tram or taxi ride into the Old City or buzzing Beyoğlu. There are several decent places to eat in the village, but if you're exhausted after a day's sightseeing the hotel's in-house Tapasuma restaurant is very well regarded.