Whether you seek a city escape rich in culture and history or a beach haven with sunny skies and turquoise water, you will find both and more in Turkey. Choose your getaway with the help of Forbes Travel Guide’s recently debuted 2023 Star Awards in the central hub of Istanbul and the picturesque paradise of Bodrum. This year marks the first time FTG’s incognito inspectors have rated port city Bodrum’s remarkable properties, all of which conveniently open this month for the 2023 season.
Although neither Istanbul nor Bodrum suffered damage from the earthquakes that recently devastated the southern region of Turkey, the country’s valiant collective response to the disaster has demonstrated the generosity, warmth and pride so intrinsic to the culture’s values — the same qualities that distinguish the 12 award winners listed below.
Enjoy the best of both the city and the sea at this Five-Star escape along the Bosphorus. It combines the intimate feel of a boutique hotel (it only has 100 rooms) with the amenities of a luxury resort (including a 38,000-square-foot spa, indoor and outdoor pools, elegant rooms courtesy of Tihany Design and enticing restaurants like Olea Bosphorus & The Bar and Novikov Istanbul).
Exuding opulence fit for a sultan, the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star property includes a 19th-century restored former palace and a modern building that houses the majority of guest rooms and facilities. Within these grand surroundings, the hotel offers a waterfront location (and a heated infinity pool from which to enjoy it) and an exceptional spa specializing in traditional services like Turkish hammam rituals.
Set in the middle of Istanbul’s historic quarter, this Five-Star hotel doesn’t retain the vestiges of its life as a former prison. Instead, the striking design (arched windows and gleaming interiors with Murano chandeliers and intricate marble flooring) and the impeccable service create an environment that feels like home.
Residing inside the Zorlu Center, home to a luxury shopping mall and the country’s largest performing arts venue, Raffles Istanbul provides a modern and sleek respite. It radiates cosmopolitan luxury with contemporary art commissioned for the Five-Star hotel prominently featured throughout the spaces, high tea in the Lavinia lobby accompanied by live piano and guest rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city.
Inspired by the vision of paradise depicted in Lost Horizon, James Hilton’s classic novel (a copy of which you will find on every bedside table), the Four-Star hotel offers utopia rendered through elegant interiors. Here, chandeliers hang from lofty ceilings, the scent of fresh lilies fills the spaces, European and Asian art adorns the walls and every marble bathroom comes with heated floors and a separate tub. You will discover another paradise at the spa, which features a heated indoor pool, sauna and steam rooms and hammam services.
This waterfront 19th-century Ottoman mansion is distinctly Turkish, with displays of work by local artists, an unforgettable hammam experience found at the spa and suites housed in the original historic palace building. Indulge in fresh Turkish seafood at the well-regarded Aqua restaurant while sitting outside along the Bosphorus.
The Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel’s location — a commercial and residential complex in close proximity to numerous headquarters, luxury shopping centers and the city’s main thoroughfares — makes it an ideal stay for those visiting on business. However, the hotel’s chic design and art-deco-inspired interiors, outdoor infinity pool and spa make it a more than appealing choice for any traveler.
Housed on the first 12 floors of Suzer Plaza — a modern skyscraper that towers over the city — the Four-Star hotel sparkles, and not only because of the panoramic vistas. The unique seasonal open-air spa, terraced suites, happening lobby lounge and restaurant shine just as brightly as the view.
A property as fashionable as its Nisantasi neighborhood, this Four-Star hotel sports art-deco design, one of the few European locations of celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, pieces loaned from the Demsa Collection of Art, original artworks commissioned by The St. Regis and the brand’s signature butler service.
Named for a mermaid-like figure in Turkish folklore, this Four-Star hotel enchants with sweeping water views, beautifully landscaped grounds, jetties stretching out into the Aegean Sea with daybeds available for reservation and elegant, Mediterranean-minimalist-style guest rooms.
On the Five-Star hotel’s sprawling 150 acres along the sparkling Aegean Sea, you’ll find fragrant olive and pine trees; two private beaches; 11 impressive restaurants and bars; a two-level, water-facing spa; and more than 130 contemporary rooms, suites, villas and apartments that are the largest in the area.
Take your pick between the infinity pool that seamlessly blends into the sea or the exclusive beach club at this sleek Four-Star hotel. Afterward, dine alfresco at celebrated Peruvian chef Diego Muñoz’s delicious Brava or order his menu poolside as you soak up the sunshine. End your day in accommodations outfitted with tile floors, warm wood accents and ample light, courtesy of the floor-to-ceiling windows.