Hotel Arena Hotel Hotel 0 star
Sehit Mehmet Pasa Yokusu Istanbul, Turkey
Amy Adejokun Section editor

The Arena hotel is nestled in the little streets leading up to the old town, behind the Blue Mosque, and is a real flashback to the atmosphere of Istanbul's past.
It is a timeless hotel with an inescapably intimate feel thanks to its past as a private residence. The ambience is relaxed and the staff welcoming. Many of the visitors here are foreign, and guests can often be seen with their noses in books.
This is a boutique hotel that has stayed true to its word when it comes to delivering luxury, while also adding a family feel and a hint of preserved traditions.
What is more, the only noise to be heard (although it is quite some noise at that!) is the muezzin's call to prayer from the Blue Mosque that stands at the top of the hill.

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    Location 9.58 /10

    The discrete appearance of the hotel has the drawback of making it difficult to locate. Taxis easily get lost in the neighbourhood's little cobbled streets, and to avoid driving round in circles you are best off paying your fare and looking for the door on foot. You won't have far to walk, and the staff from the other hotels in the area will be able to tell you exactly where you need to go.
    If you cannot find anyone who can help, look out for the nearby Daphne hotel. From here, you just need to walk a little further down the street before taking the second street on the left. It's just 2 minutes away.
    Of course, a few more signposts would not go amiss... ..

    Accommodation 7.70 /10

    The guest rooms are decorated in the sane refined antique style as the rest of the house (efforts were made to preserve this aspect of the building), combined with a hint of baroque extravagance. They are provided with a bed (ordinary or four-poster) decorated with an aqua-green embroidered bedspread and various cushions, a slightly retro wooden dressing table, and there are little round lamps lighting up the bedside tables. There is a scent of old wood in the rooms.
    If we were going to be pernickety, we could grumble that the rooms were too cluttered and stifling, not just in the sense that there is not much space, but also insofar as we were not too keen on their aesthetic qualities. The combinationof the baroque and modern styles is debatable and not an easy look to pull off, and although the plasma screen television does not raise any eyebrows, the telephone with plastic buttons is a bit of a puzzling choice.
    Everything in the rooms is perfectly functional, although the air-conditioning system could do with some renovation, especially the older one in the bathroom.
    The suite has a waxed parquet floor and an unbelievable series of windows (it is a corner room) adorned with white satin net curtains, green curtains and wooden frames that make the room seem larger. Baskets of flowers and an elegant rug on the floor add a dash of colour. The room feels like it belongs in a peaceful, elegant and distinguished old home.
    The bathroom is also decorated in aqua-green colours, this time decorated with little fish. The appliances are clean, although not new. The room is small but has everything you need, as well as a complete set of hospitality products including toothpaste, sewing thread, a nail file and a comb.
    All the guest rooms have free Wi-Fi internet access (you need to ask for the password at reception) and a mini-bar. However, room service is not included.

    Overview 8.20 /10

    The hotel is an ode to history. It has the small dimensions of a private residence and draws its originality from its previous function. The hotel's decor has a very distinct feel to it.
    The decor could certainly do with being less cluttered, but the big window in the lounge provides some relief after the paintings and period lamps adorning the entrance. The spirits trolley is going nowhere fast, the umbrella stand is an old earthenware demijohn, and the clock ticks away half an hour late. In one corner of the little lounge, a series of electric blue and scarlet vases breaks the homogenous shades of the entrance, which serves as the lobby.
    Nothing is rushed at the Arena. The lady at reception looks after everything, so you can ask her for information about the district or for any of your daily needs.
    When it comes to relaxation, a well-being centre can be opened for guests upon request. It features a massage room (£53 per hour) decorated in an Asian style and staffed by professional masseurs. There is also a hammam (£13) next to the little hexagonal room containing the Turkish bath.

    Food and drink 7.45 /10

    The chef is a real character, and the restaurant offers reasonably priced dishes for the kind of clientele that usually stays at this hotel.
    The Arena offers a varied menu of dishes that change daily, and management has come up with a clever ideas to help familiarise visitors with the cuisine: every week guests are invited to participate in a cooking class.
    In the presence of the chef, who provides guidance, the group prepares a recipe that will become their evening dish.
    The cooking class is, of course, kept on the straight and narrow by the experienced kitchen staff, and means that every day plenty of imagination goes into preparing the varied dishes, some traditional and others international.
    The dining room is located on the ground floor and can accommodate a limited number of diners. It is designed in a similar style to the rest of the hotel, and is decorated with different coloured fabrics each week.

    To know

    The management of this hotel wishes to present this place as a luxury, homely, family-run establishment.
    It used to be the owner's private residence, and has its past to thank for its intimate feel and moderate size.
    It is popular with international guests, and has a little spa where various kinds of treatments can be scheduled on request.
    A direct shuttle service is also organised between the hotel and the region's airports (£58 for Sabiha and £22 for Ataturk), which is again available upon request.


    • Shuttle bus
    • Car park
    • Handicap access
    • Restaurant
    • Internet access
    • Air conditioning
    • Spa

      massage, beauty salon, sauna, hammam, spa, Turkish bath

    • Sports equipment


    • Animals allowed
    • Whirlpool bath
    • Safe
    • Non-smoking rooms


    • The peaceful, laid-back atmosphere
    • The cooking class


    • The view out the back from some of the rooms
    • It could do with a bit of renovation

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    • Overall Score nc/10
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