Ciragan Palace: A top luxury hotel and restaurant in Istanbul

While many visitors travel to Istanbul to explore its fascinating historic sites and colourful bazaars, Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul offers special appeal for culinary travellers. The luxury hotel’s Tuğra Restaurant and Lounge on the first floor of the original Çırağan Palace hosts a classic Ottoman fine-dining experience featuring specialties such as Lamb Külbastı and Testi Kebab. It’s widely considered Istanbul’s top luxury dining destination and is ideal for a culinary getaway, a wedding, honeymoon or a romantic escape. Here’s what I loved about my stay.

Ciragan Palace Istanbul

Fine dining at Ciragan Palace Istanbul

My spacious room on the 5th floor overlooked the Bosphorus and featured double doors that opened onto a terrace that was perfect for enjoying a morning coffee or sipping tea while watching the sun set. Each evening, a culinary treat such as Turkish Delight, was presented as an amenity which added an authentic local touch. It’s also the only hotel I’ve ever checked into where I was presented with a hand bouquet of fresh flowers. Wrapped in silk, it was a posey fit for walking down a wedding aisle so I felt very special indeed carrying it to my room.

Suite with balcony view at Ciragan Palace Kempinski

This suite with a balcony view at Ciragan Palace Kempinski is a top choice for a stay in Istanbul

Located in the heart of Istanbul on the European shores of the Bosphorus overlooking the ancient city,the Ciragan Palace Kempinski hotel also happens to be an easy 10 minute walk to the beautiful  Ortakoy mosque. Built in 1855, this impressive building sits at the edge of the waterfront of the Bosphorus and anchors İskele Meydanıa a lively square where I happened upon a Sunday Flea market where I spent several hours browsing for souvenirs such as sachets of lavender, jewellery and hand-knitted wool mittens.

Ortakoy Mosque officially known as Büyük Mecidiye Camii

Ortakoy Mosque officially known as Büyük Mecidiye Camii is located on Ortakoy pier in Istanbul

The Ortakoy Pier is one of the busiest in Istanbul and offers several restaurants, bars and food stands where you can lounge and watch the beautiful sunset. I travelled there solo, enjoyed a chilled Efes Pilsener and felt very safe even after dark.

Elegant Ortakoy Mosque was built by Architect Nigoğos Balyan between 1853 and 1855

Elegant Ortakoy Mosque was built by Architect Nigoğos Balyan between 1853 and 1855

Back at Ciragan Palace Kempinski, I explored their recently-expanded menu. A highlight of the updated menu is the introduction of gluten-free and vegetarian menu dining options at Laledan restaurant and Gazebo Lounge.

Beautiful lounge at Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

Beautiful lounge at Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

A new partnership with Ark of Taste Products is designed to offer guests unique seasonal selections during the weekly signature Sunday Brunch. The gluten-free and vegetarian options are clearly identified and are quite expansive. To further complement a fit, healthy and active vacation (and wear off the calories of too much Turkish Delight) Ciragan Palace Kempinski also features a fully-equipped fitness center, lush gardens with an outdoor pool overlooking the Bosphorus and the Sanitas spa complete with a hammam Turkish bath, indoor swimming pool and luxurious treatment rooms.

swimming pool at Ciragan Palace Kempinski

Enjoy views from the swimming pool at Ciragan Palace Kempinski

During my visit, security was evident at both check-in and on the grounds, which added a level of confidence given recent safety issues in Istanbul. For example, all visitors undergo a mandatory scan and check of bags and luggage before entering. Judging from the photo gallery, the hotel is popular among celebrities, dignitaries and royalty — Oprah, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Linda Evangelista, Robert DeNiro and Bono have all enjoyed a stay here.

View from suite at Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

View from suite at Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

The hotel also makes a fine home base for explorations of Istanbul. During my visit, I participated in a walking tour of the Old Quarter with Culinary Backstreets and highly recommend them if you’re a food lover up for a food-fuelled adventure that spans 2000 years of culinary history. During this 4-hour tour hosted by a local resident and passionate foodie, we sampled everything from pide to Konya wedding soup to kororec (a snack made of intestines and offal said to cure even the worst hangover) and met many fascinating local producers, chefs, cooks and residents along the way.

Explore Istanbul's street food with Culinary Backstreets

Explore Istanbul’s street food and rooftops with Culinary Backstreets

Travel Planner

More info: Learn more about the Ciragan Palace Kempinski Palace by visiting the Kempinski Hotel website.

Cost: The price for this luxury stay is more affordable than you might expect. A quick scan on the website for the cost for two adults for one night on the prime date of Valentine’s Day on February 14, 2017 quotes a price of $283 CAD, a discount off the rack rate of $429.

So if you’re planning a bucket list getaway, it’s worth checking the cost for Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel for your travel dates on the website, a free tool that compares several hotel booking sites such as, Expedia and and finds the lowest price. It might be more affordable than you think, especially since the rate often includes breakfast.

Disclosure: I was a guest of the hotel. However, my opinions  are my own and they did not review this story prior to publication.

Browse for prices of the Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel on where you can compare several hotel booking engines ( such as, and Expedia) for the best price. It was named the World’s Leading Hotels Comparison Website by the World Travel Awards in 2016 and is where I found the best deals.


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Ciragan Palace Kempinski

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Showing 11 comments
  • Karen Warren

    What a find! I loved Istanbul (and its food), but the price I paid for staying right in the centre was a very small room. Looks as if it would be worth checking out the Ciragan Palace if I ever go back.

  • Janice Chung

    What an awesome place. There’s nothing like a hotel room that has double doors opening onto a terrace!! Glad to hear security was tight. Being in Instanbul with everything that’s going on would worry me. By the way, I give you credit for eating kororec!

  • Donna Janke

    Wow. One would certainly feel like royalty staying at the Ciragan Palace hotel. Love your photos of the hotel and of Istanbul.

  • Sara Broers

    The food, views and architecture make this very appealing. And a palace as a hotel? Well, that kind of tops the experience off. Great photos, I enjoyed them!

  • Sue Reddel

    We spied this lovely resort while on a river cruise on the Bosporus. It looks magnificent then, and seeing it up close through your eyes it looks even more inviting. Thanks for the recommendation on the food tour we’ll definitely try them on our next visit. We just loved visiting Istanbul and all of Turkey. My hope is that more people will feel more comfortable to travel there soon.

  • Chantal @ Translating Traveler

    Wow, I saw this hotel when we did a Bosporus tour during our stay in Istanbul and I remember thinking how beautiful and luxurious it looks. Seems like a great place to stay at if you really want to treat yourself!

  • Bistra Yakimova

    Wow I live only 8 hours away from Istanbul and this hotel and the restaurant are definitely worth a visit!
    Next time when I wonder how to indulge in tasty Turkish delights – I might give this a try! Thank you for all the photos and the practical information!

  • Global Brunch

    Gosh this hotel looks beautiful, like straight from a fairy-tale setting. The food offering at the hotel, especially the brunch sound right up my street. I would love to try the food tour too. It must be good if it can cure a hangover 🙂

  • Tara

    What luxurious accommodations! This is perfect for those special occasions when you’re looking for something special, and the added security is a bonus.

  • Jackie Smith

    A beautiful place to be sure and it is sad that recent unrest has probably contributed to those low rates (we’ve found similar in Cairo where the lingering fears of terrorist activities have caused a tank in tourism). Now would definitely be the time to experience the good life you found there. A lovely post!! Photos were great.

  • Culture Tripper

    Stunning photos! From the pool to the views to the food, Ciragan hotel Istanbul looks gorgeous. The fact they have incorporated gluten-free options into their menus would be a huge plus for me. Inspiring post!

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