First Day in Istanbul – The Erten Konak Hotel

First day at Istambul: the sun has already set when we arrive. Trying to decipher the public transportation system while carrying a very large trolley and reassuring a very jumpy Sir Boyfriend who was transporting, unbeknownst to me, my engagement ring in his baggage, I’m somehow able to get us across Sultanahmet Square, through the surrounding streets, passing by a myriad of tourist-trap like restaurants and descending to our very discreet and concealed hotel, guiding us only by memory of what I’ve seen on Google Maps – because we had no wifi.

We stopped for directions once, near the end, and thank god, because our place seemed just like a residential home in the middle of a regular neighbourhood, in spite of the close distance to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.

We ring the bell at the gate of the front garden. Although the garden’s well cared for, it’s a small area, and the street view is certainly less glamorous that it appears in the brochure, because the surrounding houses have somewhat of a decrepit feeling to them. We ring and we ring. Nothing. Some guy that saw us in the middle of the street, who was probably from another hotel/residential/pension (turns out the “residential neighbourhood” is packed with them), told us to go to the other entrance, on a back street that to two very suggestible foreigners looked dark and sketchy and suspicious.

Hat displayed at a hallway of the hotel.

The dude was right and just trying to help and I was giving into the paranoiac fear of the unknown.

We enter the hotel where everything looks inviting and we finally relax our booty-clenched selves and I’m able to make jokes again. The small reception area is incredibly plush looking – carpeted, with velvet upholstered sofas, gold scaffolds and an impressive collection of paintings. Unfortunately, we didn’t take any photos of that room.

Erten Konak’s ceiling details.

From the reception to the main house where the rooms are, we cross an inner patio with mosaic floor, and the “winter garden”: an area of the patio that’s covered by a glass roof, like a greenery, where breakfast takes place.

At the main house we start up the stairs and two sewing machines initiate the display of collections. I don’t know what’s the story behind this hotel, but it might have been a seamstress home at some point. There was some magic to the place, a sort of Cinderella vibe, like it was trying to tell a story in a different language and I could only grasp the imagery.

A side note: English translated anything, in Turkey, is kind of atrocious. Most monument/museum labels looked like they were written and proof-read by Google Translator and Google Translator alone. However, it was this hotel the main culprit of my sadness about not understanding the native language: I would love to know what was on the writings on the wall, or read the article in the reception about the hotel’s opening, where I suspect some of the back story was explained.

Displayed calligraphy collection.

There were four floors that led to four rooms each, I believe. The hallways looked like the real life setting of a child’s story. A child who loved clothes and fashion (me), but still.

Another hat display. They love hats.

We stayed at the top floor, which was a pain to go up and down the stairs everytime, but that also meant that we visited each floor “exhibit” everyday.

Who wore these? On which occasion?
A gorgeous easel.
The hat love is real.

The location is amazing, really near the main touristic Square, and I remember it wasn’t an expensive stay. Worth booking a room at this tailor’s storybook house if you’re ever visiting Istambul.

Room entry.

Photos by Sir Fiancé.

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