Finding a bed for the night is generally not a problem in Turkey, except in high season at the busier coastal resorts and larger towns. Lists of hotels, motels and guesthouses (pansiyons) are published by local tourist offices, and we’ve listed the best options throughout the Guide. Prices, while good value by most Western European standards, are no longer rock-bottom, and can be downright expensive in İstanbul. To some extent facilities have improved correspondingly, though not surprisingly you often get less for your money in the big tourist resorts, and little choice between fleapits or four-star luxury in relatively untouristed towns of the interior. However, with the Turkish economy as it is, backpackers can often afford to go mid-range, and those on mid-range budgets can sometimes secure rooms at the best hotels available east of Cappadocia.
Rooms are generally on the small side by European standards with dim lighting and rarely enough power points. In the newer, three- to five-star establishment single rooms generally go for just over half the price of a double, since proprietors are well used to lone (male) business travellers. Rooms with en-suite bathrooms are generally about 25 percent more than unplumbed ones; triples are also usually available, costing about thirty percent more than a double.
To avoid noise, pick a room away from main thoroughfares or mosque minarets or one with double-glazing. You won’t cause offence by asking to see another room, and never agree on a price for a room without seeing it first. Though break-ins aren’t the norm in Turkey, security should be at least a token consideration. Another possible source of noise is from prostitutes and their clients; although we try not to list any hotels used in this way owners feeling the economic pinch may be tempted to turn a blind-eye to boost profits – especially off season.
Hot water (sıcak su) is not always reliable, even in starred hotels, as the solar-powered systems ubiquitous in coastal resorts struggle to cope with demand – check to see if there’s an electric back up. Plumbers quite frequently pipe the taps up the wrong way round, so check that the tap that should be the hot one is not the cold! Bathtubs and sinks seldom have plugs, so bring a universal plug from home. Especially on the south and southwest coast, air conditioning (a/c) is almost always found in most establishments of category €39–57 (81–120TL) and above – and in quite a few below. Double beds for couples are becoming more popular; the magic words are Fransiz yatak (“French” bed). Incidentally, in some conservative rural areas, hotel management may refuse to let a heterosexual couple share a room unless there is documentary evidence that they are married. A law exists to this effect, so it’s no use arguing the toss.
Lift/elevator buttons can be a source of potential confusion. “Ç” stands for “call”, a lit-up “K” means the car is already on your floor; an illuminated “M” means “in use”; “Z” stands for ground floor whilst “A” means the mezzanine floor.
Turkish hotels are graded on a scale of one to five stars by the Ministry of Tourism; there is also a lower tier of unstarred establishments rated by municipalities. At the four- and five-star level you’re talking international-standard mod cons and prices, flat-screen TVs, air conditioning, etc. Two- or three-star outfits are more basic; no tubs in bathrooms and more spartan breakfasts. Boutique hotels are popping up all over the place, especially in restored old mansions in places such as Amasya, Cappadocia, Gaziantep, İstanbul, Urfa, and Safranbolu. However, the term is overused to market any accommodation that has been done up in a minimalist or modernist style.
The unrated hotels licensed by municipalities can be virtually as good as the lower end of the one-star class, sometimes with en-suite bathrooms, televisions and phones. Others though, at the very bottom end of the market will have a basin in the room but shared showers and (squat) toilet down the hall. Most solo female travellers will feel uncomfortable in unstarred, and even many one- and two-star hotels, especially in less touristed parts of the interior.
Particularly when it comes to family-run pensions, you may well find that the proprietor has links with similar establishments in other towns; often he/she will offer to call ahead to arrange both a stay and a transfer from the otogar for you. This informal network is a good way of avoiding the hassle with touts and a late-night search for a comfy bed.
Pansiyons and apartments
Often the most pleasant places to stay are pansiyons (pensions), small guesthouses common in touristy areas. Try to avoid the touts and look for little signs with the legend Boş oda var (“Empty rooms free”). pansiyons usually have en-suite facilities, and many feature common gardens or terraces where breakfast (usually 7–10TL a head when not included in the room price) is served. Rooms tend to be spartan but clean, furnished in one-star hotel mode and always with two sheets (çarşafs) on the bed. Hot water is always available, though with solar-powered systems not always when you want it, and many now have air conditioning, often for a supplement. Prices are often rigidly controlled by the local tourist authorities, set according to the establishment’s rating.
Self-catering apartments are becoming widespread in coastal resorts, and are mostly pitched at vacationing Turks or foreigners arriving on pre-arranged packages. Some are available to walk-in trade – local tourist offices maintain lists – and apart from the weekly price the major (negotiable) outlay will be for the large gas bottle feeding the stove. Ensure, too, that kitchens are equipped well enough to make them truly self-catering.
Hostels, lodges and treehouses
There’s only a handful of internationally affiliated, foreigner-pitched hostels in the country, but this gap has been amply filled by backpackers’ hostels, found most notably in İstanbul, Çanakkale, Selçuk, Köyceğiz and Fethiye. Basically 1970s pansiyons which have been adapted to feature multi-bedded rooms, laundry and internet facilities, self-catering kitchen, tours and lively bars, they can be fair value – costs vary from €10–12 a head in a large dorm, considerably more for a double room.
In recent years a large number of trekkers’ lodges have sprung up in the foothills of the Kaçkar mountains, especially on the south slope, and along the Lycian Way. These generally offer a choice between communal sleeping on mattresses arrayed on a wooden terrace, or more enclosed double to quadruple, non en-suite rooms – strangely, cooking facilities may often be absent. Costs are comparable to the backpackers’ hostels.
Found principally on the southwestern coast between Antalya and Fethiye are the so-called “treehouses”, often ramshackle collections of elevated shacks or even just open platforms made of rough timber. Some have dorm rooms while an increasing number are designed for two people and have doors, windows, electricity, air conditioning and, rarely, en-suite facilities.
In areas frequently visited by independent travellers, pansiyons and hostels with gardens will often allow camping. Charges run from a couple of euros to €7 per head in a well-appointed site at a major resort; you may also be charged to park your vehicle – anything from €2 to €7, depending on the site and season. The most appealing campsites are those run by the Ministry of Forestry, open April to October inclusive; look for brown wooden signs with yellow lettering. There are 20 of them in shady groves at strategic locations (mostly coastal) across the west of the country, and they make an ideal choice if you have your own transport, especially a combi-van or car and caravan. Camping rough is not illegal, but hardly anybody does it except when trekking in the mountains, and, since you can expect a visit from curious police or even nosier villagers, it’s not really a choice for those who like privacy.Read More
The trouble with touts
The trouble with touts
Accommodation touts can be incredibly persistent in the coastal resorts and other touristy areas, often descending on weary travellers fresh off the bus. If you take your chances with them, rather than our recommendations, note that certain outfits have generated serious complaints, ranging from dangerous wiring to extortion and even false imprisonment. Nevşehir, Eğirdir, Selçuk, Kuşadası and a few other bus stations are often frequented by touts – but note that some are just genuine pansiyon owners/workers.