Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

Review of Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

BusinessClass.com review by Varun Sharma

Istanbul is a bustling, bewitching city of mystery, intrigue and history – a history that lives on at the Çırağan Palace Hotel Kempinski. As the name might suggest, the main public areas and key suites are located in a former nineteenth century Ottoman palace overlooking the Bosphorus. The property offers 310 rooms and suites, the majority of these are situated in the main hotel section, with just eleven suites located in the Imperial Palace itself.

There are six restaurants and bars, a shopping arcade of boutiques and a luxury spa with a fitness centre, indoor pool, an authentic Turkish hammam for traditional massage and bath, a whirlpool, sauna and steam rooms. There is also an outside children’s pool and for those who like to blow in and out quickly, a helipad. The most popular facility however must be the outdoor infinity main pool, located in front of the hotel, set in landscaped gardens, overlooking the mighty Bosphorus.

The Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul is featured on the BusinessClass.com list of The Best Luxury Hotels in Istanbul

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The Çırağan Palace Kempinski enjoys an unmatched location on the European shores of the Bosphorus between Istanbul’s districts of Besiktas and Ortakoy, close to the business district. 

The key must-visit tourist attractions – Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, The Egyptian Bazaar or Spice market and the underground Basilica Cisterns – are all located close to each other in the older part of the city – around a 20-30 minute taxi ride away. The elegant Dolmabahçe Palace, the administrative heart of the Ottoman Empire and home to the last of the Ottoman Sultans sits on the waterfront about a 10-minute taxi drive along from the Çırağan Palace.

Istanbul Ataturk International Airport is around 40 kilometres away from the hotel with limousine journey times taking around one hour, depending on traffic. It is also possible to arrange for a helicopter or boat transfer to the hotel, the latter a reminder of how the Ottomans themselves would once have arrived.



A hotel of two parts, the grandeur and elegant décor of the historic palace blends seamlessly into the modern building with rooms decorated in a classic, comfortable style with a distinct touch of Turkish design in the colours and textures. There are 310 guest rooms in total, including 20 suites in the main hotel and 11 suites in the Imperial Palace and all come with a balcony and a view – either of the Bosphorus or of Yiliz Park. This is now a public park and the largest in Istanbul, once a deer hunting enclave of Suleyman the Magnificent. The Lilium Garden rooms on the ground floor open out onto a private garden with sunbeds surrounded by Lillium trees and enjoying a fresh breeze from the Bosphorus.

Rooms may include half-canopied beds, armchairs and working desks, satins and velvets with wood inlays and marble bathrooms with contrasting dark wood, flowers and luxury amenities.

The five-star features are all there – pillow menu, Nespresso machines, flat screen televisions, minibars and so forth. They also come with Timeless Check-in and Check-out service which allows more flexibility with arrival and departure times. Smoking rooms are also available.

The suites take things up a notch with choices in the hotel building ranging from a spacious studio suite right up to the Pasha and Presidential Suite. Located on the top floor of the hotel building with around-the-clock butler service and offering panoramic views of the Bosphorus, these suites have two separate bedrooms with en-suites, a lavish lounge, a library and a dining table for up to six people. Furniture is custom made with partial wood panelling, Bose music systems and beds featuring coronet canopies with luxurious fabric drapes.

Ramping it up once again, the exclusive Palace Suites are akin to apartments - light filled rooms, individually decorated and duplex in design. Each also enjoys a revived tradition dating back to the ancient water therapies of the Turkish bath – a soap service. Cut from 100% olive oil handmade blocks with four scents, one bar is for immediate use, another is wrapped to take home.

The Sultan Suite is a step apart, however. Located on the second floor of the palace in the southeastern corner, this suite is one of the largest in Europe with triple height, floor to ceiling windows with elegant drapes framing magnificent Bosphorus views. Offering a large hall, living area, two large bedrooms and bathrooms, it retains its historical integrity by featuring handmade furniture, luxurious fabrics and textiles, subtle Ottoman motifs and grand chandeliers. This is surely one of the finest suites in Turkey.

Service & Facilities


The palatial Sanitas Spa at Çırağan Palace Kempinski offers a soothing retreat for pampering treatments and relaxation including the opportunity to enjoy an authentic Turkish massage and bath in the beautifully crafted and spacious marble hammam. Treatments range from massages and reflexology to Asian massages and therapies to be enjoyed in a guest room, the spa or in a private cabana in the gardens near the pool.

The facility also offers a fully equipped fitness centre, a whirlpool, indoor pool, sauna and steam rooms. The team will even arrange a Yoga by the Bosphorus experience in the palace gardens – a perfect combination of Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa Flow – exclusively for hotel residents. The most popular facility is the heated outdoor infinity pool, located in front of the hotel, set in landscaped gardens, overlooking the Bosphorus. Below this pool terrace, there is a children’s paddling pool.

Kempinski's Lady in Red is a special service offered by the hotel group. Inherently, the Lady in Red is a guest relations manager who knows all there is to about the hotel and indeed location. Of course, guests of the Çırağan Palace Kempinski can expect to see a Lady in Red in the hotel and are encouraged to make her a point of contact. 



As the only Ottoman palace and hotel sitting directly on the Bosphorus, the Çırağan Palace Kempinski hotel stands unique in Istanbul. Constructed in 1890, the exquisitely carved marbles on the exterior façade give a hint to the resplendent re-imagined restoration of the palace interiors. Public areas are large, dressed to impress and feature high vaulted ceilings with glittering oversized chandeliers, contrasting marble columns and floors, intricate tiling inlays and wide, gracious sweeping staircases.

The modern hotel wing which hosts most of the guest rooms and successfully marries contemporary aspects with a more classic, luxurious traditional style. That is itself no mean feat.

The key overriding plus factor is location, location, location of course. The ever-changing, panoramic views over the Bosphorus and the city are spellbinding. Uniquely, when swimming in the hotel’s beautiful infinity pool, you are physically based in Europe whilst overlooking Asia as Istanbul is the only city in the world to sit astride two continents.

Restaurants & Bars


Like the city itself, the four restaurants and bars at the Çırağan Palace Kempinski unites old & new and east & west.

Take a stroll through the historic gateway into the manicured lawns and gardens of the palace to Laledan Restaurant to enjoy a wonderful buffet breakfast of over three hundred items overlooking the sea by morning and in the afternoon, a sustaining, delicate afternoon tea with a glass of prosecco and a live Turkish coffee preparation. The Sunday brunch is particularly popular both with hotel guests and locals. 

Located on the first floor of the palace, Tugra Restaurant is named after the Sultan’s calligraphic signature, used as a letterhead or imperial seal. Even the specially commissioned dining service has this elegant motif emblazoned on them. The menu serves Ottoman and Turkish dishes with the menu inspired by recipes which a sultan might recognise, discovered by Executive Chef Sezai Erdogan in the archives of Istanbul’s palaces.

The Bosphorus Grill open during the summer months is a chic waterfront venue of blue and white striped seating and white linen tables for lunches and dinners with a view. Looking out to the Maiden Tower and beyond, the fare is lighter with familiar classics - beefburgers, salads, sandwiches, pasta, pizzas mixed with Turkish feasts – mezze, grilled fish, vine leaf wrapped vegetables, baklava, and so forth.

The Gazebo Lounge is perfect for those who like to see and be seen, serving an à la carte menu for global favourites, cakes and chocolates.

For relaxing of an evening, Le Fumoir might hit the spot. Located in the heart of the hotel’s beautiful gardens, enjoy a cocktail or two or a premium selection of liquors and spirits. The Pavilion extends out into the palm trees and offers a view of the sea and the Anatolian side of the city. In addition, Le Fumoir offers a wide variety of flavoured tobaccos, served in handmade humidors as well as the traditional hookahs.

The 47 is a different experience altogether – this waterfront bar offers snacks, innovative and delicious home-made cocktails with a DJ spinning the decks – for those who want to let their hair down.


Kempinski as a global hotel group is conscious of its responsibility to create a sustainable yet luxurious guest experience that is respectful of the environment. Their mission is to deliver uncompromising luxury while ensuring a minimal environmental and social impact.

The ecological footprint is at the core of their business model and they strive to alleviate pressure on natural resources by reducing energy and water consumption in their hotels as well as waste management. To this end, they have partnered with EarthCheck, one of the most reputable sustainability certification programmes in the hospitality industry. Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul currently holds an EarthCheck Bronze Benchmark 2020.

Kempinski ensure their chefs fulfils the company’s sustainability purpose by collaborating with sustainable sources and local suppliers. They also believe their partners should share similar values so they carefully choose who they work with. To make their supply chain more sustainable, they have also taken a stand to eliminate single-use plastic from all hotel amenities. 

With people at the very heart of their business, enhancing health and wellbeing is vitally important to Kempinski. Their outreach programmes are helping to tackle the urgent issue of infectious diseases for the benefit of local communities in the countries where they have a presence. Kempinski is one of the founders of BE Health Association which facilitates the prevention, detection and treatment of diseases.

What We Love

  • Palace – Paris boasts “palace hotels” – this term for Çırağan is literal! It really is a palace … and you are made to feel like royalty when you stay there. Whether you have an entry-level room or a suite – expect wonderful service, cuisine and stunning views.

  • Lights – by night Istanbul rivals Tokyo, New York, or Hong Kong. All the buildings light up – on both sides of the Bosphorus – and are definitely worth enjoying on a boat cruise. It is truly magnificent and unforgettable, with the Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul playing its part as the hotel lights up at night, adding to the magic.

  • The grounds - truly majestic, with the large two-tiered infinity pool as its focal point. The generously sized and meticulously groomed garden offers paved footways, flowers, palm trees and hedges landscaped to perfection.

    Varun Sharma

What They Love

  • Royal born – Dating back to the 17th century, Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul is the only Ottoman imperial palace and hotel situated on the Bosphorus. Once the home of Ottoman sultans there is a historical gallery in a dedicated corridor that features amazing archives and history of Ciragan Palace.

  • Master location on the Bosphorus –The hotel is known to be as “Grand Dame of the Bosphorus’’ with its huge land. Facing Asia, and with enchanting views to the historical peninsula, it offers the glamour of a genuine Ottoman palace in a city where the east meets the west, Europe meets Asia and history meets the contemporary.

  • Palatial experiences – In the historical section of the hotel, 11 private palace suites offer a private entrance, lobby, and butler service. Exclusive for staying guests, there is soap and scent service at the Palace and can be personalised according to the preferences of our guests.

    Ralph Radtke
    General Manager of Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
    Regional Director of Kempinski Residences in Turkey 


Read the BusinessClass.com original destination guide: Istanbul - where East meets West

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