My husband and I recently had the pleasure of travelling around Turkey for a week. We spent the last two nights of our trip in Istanbul.
There was a lot of debating as to which property to stay at, as there are a vast selection of Marriott and Hilton properties in Istanbul.
In the end, we settled on a new property that opened this past year and was already receiving raving reviews, the Orientbank Hotel Istanbul, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.
Orientbank Hotel Istanbul – Booking
Having initially booked a different hotel, by the time I decided to book a stay at the Orientbank three weeks out, the cash price had gone up to $400 (CAD). Had I booked earlier, rates were a little cheaper.
Rather than paying cash, I redeemed 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night for a Deluxe Guest Room with a king bed.
I actually booked two single night stays back-to-back, and applied Suite Night Awards to both. Interestingly, the Suite Night Award didn’t clear for the first night, but it did for the second.
Be aware that this hotel specifically states in their welcome email that rooms are only meant to accommodate two people, and that all rooms only have king beds. So, this may not be the property to book if you’re travelling with young kids who cannot stay in their own room alone.
Orientbank Hotel Istanbul – Location
Getting from Istanbul International Airport to downtown Istanbul generally takes around 45 minutes, and will cost about 300–400 Turkish lira ($22–29 CAD).
The Orientbank is located at a very bustling intersection in the old town area on the European side of Istanbul.
One thing to keep in mind if you have mobility issues and will frequently require the use of a taxi, is that it is very difficult to catch taxis on your own in the old town area. If you need a taxi, it’s best to have the hotel to call one for you.
The good news is that the hotel is very conveniently located to many major tourist attractions, and so the use of taxi shouldn’t be necessary for most visitors.
The Galata Bridge is only a 10 minute walk away, and at the foot of the bridge, you can catch ferries to cross the river or a boat tour that will go along the Bosphorus Strait, which separates Europe from Asia. Crossing it, you can meander along Istiklal Street, which is lined with shops and cafés, and visit the Galata Tower.
If you walk 20 minutes in the opposite direction, you’ll find Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and Sultan Ahmet Camii, otherwise known as the Blue Mosque.
The Grand Bazaar can also be reached within 10 minutes, and the Egyptian or Spice Bazaar is literally steps away. The Grand Bazaar, by the way, is the place to get the best exchange rate, in case you are in need of Turkish lira.
Orientbank Hotel Istanbul – Check-in
The Orientbank lends its name from its history as a bank from 130 years ago. It was first a German bank, which was then converted into a Turkish bank.
Ten years ago, the bank closed and the property began its renovations to become a hotel five years later. Although the renovations were extensive, the original marble floors and stairwell remain intact.
The building is wedge-shaped, and rather small compared to other Marriott properties in the area. It is comprised of eight floors, with 36 guest rooms across six of those floors.
We took a taxi from the airport, and when we arrived, our taxi made an abrupt stop right outside the entrance. Stepping out of the taxi, I soon realized there was really no other place for the taxi pull up to.
At the entrance was a staff member ready to welcome us and help us with our luggage. Another quickly came out to usher us into the hotel. Staff were dressed in grey pants and vests with white shirts.
Entering the hotel, you walk up a set of marble steps, through a set of double doors into a classy lobby of marble floors and pillars, with a large glass light fixture hanging from the ceiling.
One one side was a casual seating area with velvet covered seats and sofas around coffee tables for guests checking in or just wanting to lounge. The other side had a bar and tables set up like a small bistro.
At the end of the lobby and centre of it all was the front desk. Rather than checking in at the front, the staff member asked us to take a seat in the lounge area, and he kindly asked for our passports in the meantime.
While we waited, a hostess offered us a welcome drink of orange juice, pomegranate juice, or lemonade. My husband and I both had the lemonade, which we found quite refreshing.
When the staff came back, he completed our check-in with a tablet where we sat. They were quick to recognize our Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status and explain our benefits.
He even had a little card where he checked off our choice of elite benefits, namely the free breakfast in lieu of there not being a lounge. We opted for a $10 food and beverage credit rather than 1,000 points as our welcome amenity.
They also noted our back-to-back bookings, and because our second night had been automatically upgraded to a One Bedroom Suite, they took the liberty of upgrading our first night as well, so we wouldn’t have to change rooms.
I was quite impressed that they had even noticed the second booking, and were proactive enough as to upgrade our first night based on our second night.
We then proceeded to go up to our room. The stairwell and elevator are behind the wall of the check-in desk. The elevator is a small one, fitting only four people at a time.
If you want to get some steps in, you can take the staircase up as well.
Stepping out of the elevator, you enter into a vestibule with marble tiled floors. In the middle was a glass display showcasing products from a local retailer.
The walls were a bright white with coffering, and decorated with various abstract paintings along the wall.
Rooms are arranged on either side of the wall, with One Bedroom Suites at the end of the hall, the narrow part of the wedge-shaped building.
Once we entered our room, the staff member explained the features of the room to us. He also pointed out some welcome amenities: a package of Turkish delights and dried fruit, and also a bank note made to be a replica of those that were once given out by the bank.
It was issued in the amount of 50 Turkish liras that could be used towards any food or beverage during our stay.
Orientbank Hotel Istanbul – One Bedroom Suite
The One Bedroom Suite is the largest of the hotel rooms; however, its layout would make you think otherwise, being placed at the narrow end of a pie-shaped building.
The room, like the lobby, is elegantly decorated with some classical features, but felt a bit cramped.
The suite is divided into a living room area and a bedroom. When you first enter the room, you come across the small living room on the right, with a couch, an armchair, lamp, coffee table, and wall-mounted TV.
In the corner is a small snack and beverage centre, with some wine, liquors, and snacks on the counter, and a mini-bar containing some more options just below.
Stepping away from the living room, you’ll find a short hallway that leads to the bedroom. You soon hit a wall, which seems odd at first, until you realize that it has the king-sized bed and its headboard on the other side of it.
The bed is the central feature of the room, and faces a semi-circular wall that has several windows overlooking the busy intersection below. There is not a lot of space between the bed and the wall.
The bed is flanked by a couple of marble-topped night tables. Above these were switches for lights and also USB ports, which makes charging devices convenient.
On one of the night tables was an alarm clock radio, which acted as a wireless charging station as well.
Next to the bed is is a wooden table with a tea station.
Behind the bed is a closet containing shelves, drawers, a safe, iron, and ironing board. A separate coffee station can also be found here.
On the opposite side of the room is the bathroom, which consists of a toilet, stand-alone sink, and shower, all separated by glass partitions.
For a tiny vanity, it was packed full of amenities. There were robes and towels in bags on the shelf below the sink, and on the vanity were the toiletries, supplied by Nerolinn, a Turkish brand.
Aside from the usual toiletries, there was also a toothbrush set, comb, sewing kit, vanity kit, scrubbing mitt, and a grape seed body scrub. The scrub was a unique amenity, and along with the scrubbing mitt, you could perform your own hammam treatment in the comfort of your own room.
Although the rest of the suite was very clean, I did notice some areas of mildew in the bathroom grout.
Orientbank Hotel Istanbul – Dining
The hotel offers breakfast, and all-day dining in the Lobby Lounge Restaurant. In-room dining is also available, and food services are available until 11pm.
Menus and pricing can be found here.
Breakfast is served from 7–11am. They have an à la carte menu which features three types of breakfast: Turkish, American, and healthy.
If you’ve never had a Turkish breakfast before, I’d recommend trying it at least once during your stay. They serve an amazing amount of tapas-sized dishes to enjoy, in addition to a main egg course.
There are also a selection of fresh juices you can order.
From 6–9pm, they also open the rooftop bar. It is a great place to enjoy a drink or two, watch the sunset, or just take in the view of Istanbul.
Staff are also happy to take you up to the rooftop terrace for some daytime views.
Every Friday and Saturday night, they open up the bank’s vault in the basement of the hotel for the Gregor By The Badau Jazz Club, Turkey’s only “gastro jazz club”.
Unfortunately, our stay didn’t coincide with it being open. When open, it features a live jazz performance along with a gourmet, fine dining experience.
Seating is limited, so be sure to make a reservation beforehand.
Orientbank Hotel Istanbul – Service
The service at this hotel was outstanding, and definitely a highlight of our stay. Even before we arrived, they reached out with an email containing information about the hotel and how to contact them, including via WhatsApp.
We reached out a couple of times via chat with questions regarding transportatio. They were always quick to respond with detailed answers, including helping us book a hammam spa.
Staff are attentive and truly try to give you a memorable experience.
For example, breakfast on our second morning took longer that expected. A staff noticed without us saying anything, and proactively informed us they would check with the kitchen on the delay.
At check-out, the staff noticed we hadn’t used our $10 food and beverage credit welcome amenity, and offered to switch it and gave us points instead.
I’ll also mention that our upgrade wasn’t an anomaly, as they have a track record for being quite generous in their upgrades, subject to availability of course.
The Orientbank is a relatively new Marriott property that gives the vibe of a boutique hotel. It has quite a few things going for it, namely its close proximity to historical sites and attractions, an amazing breakfast, and outstanding service.
Like a boutique property, however, there are not many on-site amenities, and the rooms are a bit on the smaller side. Nevertheless, it was still comfortable and well-appointed, and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again if I’m travelling without the kids.
The only thing I’d change is probably requesting a Junior Suite, if possible.