When it comes to finding an affordable hotel in an historic area that has a high-end hotel feel but without the price tag, the Bankerhan Hotel near the Galatea Tower (Galatea Kulesi) checks all the boxes and more.
Coming as no surprise to anyone, finding a budget hotel in Istanbul was tougher than I anticipated and perhaps coming at the tail-end of the peak season meant that availabilities were somewhat spotty. I was thrilled to discover that Bankerhan had availabilities for the dates I was staying at, and their dbrouble-room was discounted to just a little over CAD$75/night.
Travelling to Istanbul, most tourists/travelers tend to stay in the “Old Town” (Sultanahmet) or the “newer” / “New Town” European side, near Taksim Square. Although the options in either of these locations are more plentiful, I wasn’t too impressed by the price I would be getting. Furthermore, I enjoy walking in new cities so I preferred the walking and taking the public transit in between my sightseeing.
Bankerhan Hotel: Amenities & What’s Around
The hotel offers 24-hour reception, complimentary water bottles for your first night, toiletries, a minibar, a safe and can arrange transfers/taxi’s at the front desk or during booking. Breakfast is available for an additional €10 per day which I thought was atrociously overpriced and having passed by it for 3 days, didn’t look impressive at all. There are tons of street food vendors/juice stands/cafe’s and coffee shops nearby that costs far less than €10. There are 2 Mipro Jet grocery stores, one a 1-minute walk, another, about 5-minute walk from the hotel.
The convenience of having a grocery store nearby cannot be understated – whether it was to buy water or snacks or picking up forgotten toiletries, the location of Bankerhan Hotel is simply unbeatable!
Getting Around & Public Transit near the Bankerhan Hotel
Bankerhan Hotel is conveniently located about 5 minutes’ walk away from Galata Tower which offers the famous panoramic postcard view of Istanbul and the Bosphorus that you’ve probably seen on Lonely Planet or Discovery Channel.
The Galata Tower is a famous attraction of its own, attracting crowds on any day. The Tower was built in 1348 and has a restaurant and offers a unique viewpoint which makes it a highly popular destination for photographers.
Tram line 1 (T1) is located about 600m or a 5-minute walk; there are a number of banks / ATMs nearby so it’s easy and convenient to withdraw cash. If you’re taking the tram, T1 goes to all the major tourist sites in Sultanahmet (Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Spice Market, Galata Tower/Galata Bridge).
These popular sites are also within walkable distance from each other, but in case you are travelling with children, or prefer to save the walking, having a tram so accessible is helpful.
I don’t recommend hailing taxis in this area just because the traffic is atrocious. You will likely be sitting in traffic much longer than it actually takes to travel on the tram or to walk.
I found Karakoy/Beyoglu area had a better balance of locals and tourists, so I felt much safer than being in a totally tourist-heavy area which often make me wary of the restaurants (will it be overpriced?) and the ATMs (has it been tampered with?) while still being able to see how the day-to-day unfolds here.
Bankerhan Hotel: The Deluxe Room
I had the double deluxe room on the second floor, and it overlooked the one-way street. There’s no view from the hotel but the location is nice and quiet, ensuring a good night’s sleep after all that walking and visiting museums all day. The bathroom is very small and there’s really no counter-space – something to consider if you’re travelling as a couple. The rooms are also on the smaller side, but you do get used to it after a while.
Unique to this hotel (and a few others), is the availability of Single Rooms for solo or business travellers; this would have been my preference from a cost perspective but by the time I booked, there were no available rooms left.
The room is smaller than most hotel rooms I’ve stayed at – in the image above, I took the picture standing right next to the door. There’s a bit of a “capsule hotel” feel about the rooms which wasn’t an issue for me travelling alone but could be a deal-breaker if you prefer to have more space. The TV has plenty of English channels so if you get bored in the evening. The hotel is quite new and has a really modern design so it’s all very hip, boutique-like and has that high-end vibe despite the price tag.
The hotel’s location, and having a room tucked away meant that I had a very relaxing stay, and very good night’s sleep. I enjoyed the ridiculously comfortable bed so much so that I regretted leaving so much! The bathroom is tiny, but if you’re not spending much time at the hotel, it’s not a deal-breaker.
Bankerhan Hotel – The Not So Good
I booked a 1-way transfer from the Ataturk Airport (IST) for €30/CAD$50 (yes, way overpriced for what it was) but discovered it is a service that gets outsourced. The worst part was that there were so much confusion about my pickup that i ended up being stranded at the airport for 2 hours, after arriving at 3:30AM (Fun, I know). Keep in mind, the Ataturk Airport doesn’t have free wifi so I had to buy a SIM card and call the front desk to figure out what the hell was happening.
After I got to the hotel, they compensated the delay/confusion by checking me early (at 6AM, 8 hours early) and I was able to check out 2 hours later with no additional fee.
I wished I had known how cheap it was to book a taxi instead of the transfer. The one-way taxi fee to go to the airport was only TL70 (€9/CAD$10-15) and it arrived promptly too.
The area around Bankerhan Hotel is very steep and hilly so be prepared to do a bit of a hike up and down.
Barring the poor experience I had after landing, I loved Bankerhan Hotel for a brief stay in Istanbul. Given its proximity to the tram line and inexpensive food options, it’s a hotel that really gives a great bang for your bucks. The hotel was quiet despite the fact that it was booked almost to full capacity.
Where to Next
Read more: Turkey
Turkey remains one of my favourite trips and Istanbul is a city so steeped in history and so many things to see and do that I didn’t think my 2-week trip did enough justice.
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