Tag Archives: hotel

Istanbul hotels

Open ANY guidebook or ask ANYONE who’s ever been to Istanbul and you will hear about the wondrous Four Seasons, which was once a prison.  While I am as interested in former-prisons-turned-luxury-hotels as the next gal, every person who gives you this sage advice thinks they are the very first person to think of it, and that you will happily fork over the 400 euro a night to stay there.

Despite still holding a large cache of Marriott points, we didn’t use any lastyear, as the Marriott properties in Portugal and Istanbul weren’t well located for our purposes and rarely cost-effective, so we had to look elsewhere in the ‘Bul.  We shot nearly all of our Starwood points wad on 3 nights at the W Istanbul, which I was really excited about in the weeks leading up to our trip.  Perhaps because it was the holiday season (and even if Turks don’t celebrate Christmas, there are many Europeans who take holidays then), we didn’t find much in the way of great deals, and ended up booked our first 4 nights at the InterContinental at an advance purchase rate of a little under $100 USD per night, not including breakfast or Wifi.  Some notes on the hotels:

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Day 8-9: Sligo

After catching our breath coming down the Slieve League cliffs, we sped along to County Sligo, home of Yeats, peat, and an overrated megalithic cemetery.  I should preface this entry with saying that our stay in this county nearly led to divorce, not that we had a bad time.  See, H is not generally what I would call cheap, he would leave Ireland wearing a pair of Dior sneakers and designer jeans, but when it comes to hotels, he's a bit of a Scrooge.  The only way I've stayed at flash hotels like the Shelbourne and the Merchant is through Marriott Points and an industry press rate, respectively.  Since the rest of the trip we were planning to stay at places costing around 80 euro, I felt we could splash out once, especially as this trip was celebrating my college graduation, an event ten years in the making.  We also wanted to check out a country house, which is a unique experience where you stay in someone's house and borrow their wellies and such.  Hidden Ireland and Sawday's are good for this type of hotel porn.  I ended up booking at Temple House, the most reasonable country house I could find in the areas we were visiting, for 2 nights and 1 dinner.  I will swear to my dying breath that H agreed beforehand to the price, and yet when he saw the final bill (about $600 all told), it was…not good. Anyway, fairly warned be thee, says I.

Arrived at Temple House with minutes to spare before dinner began, but we had long enough to marvel at the acres of sheep surrounding the house, check into our room, and change.  The place is amazing, like being on a Merchant Ivory film set, but less sterile.  They have a whole slew of dogs, including a basset hound, which I was partial to.

Our room, with armoires big enough to hide multiple bodies and actual drapes that needed to be drawn:

Coming down the staircase:

We all met in the morning room for pre-dinner drinks and to choose our wines, it was frightfully civilized.  There were two Irish couples: one from Galway with a baby coming imminently, one from Northern Ireland having a no kids weekend; an Italian couple; an obnoxious American couple who thought everything was just precious!; and the obligatory single Swiss man.  The Swissman had just finished a language course (in English, his was of course, flawless) and was about to go on a horseback riding holiday where you travel the country on horses, which was neat.  Our host, Roderick, gave us the history of the house (it's cool, but read the website, I don't have all night), told us the troubles of sheep rearing these days (apparently, most of the lamb in Ireland is imported, as they export most of their own!), and then left us alone.  For dinner, we all sat around a huge dining room table and tried to make small talk.  It was like being in Clue, but without a host or any murders.  Food was very good, I had my first parsnip, which was delicious (I had more than one, actually).  After dinner, we went back to the morning room and had more drinks and more drinks (this was part of the $600 bill, at 5 euro a pop, on the honor system).  We ended up staying up really late with the Irish couples and the Swiss man, talking about every topic you are supposed to avoid in polite company: money, religion, politics, and sex.  The Northern Irish man gave us a lot of personal insight into the Troubles and we even had a few arguments, but on the whole it was much fun and highly recommended.  Very interesting to learn that Ireland is so expensive even to the Irish that it is much cheaper for them to holiday in Spain or France than in their own country. Made me feel better about feeling so poor in Ireland.

The next morning we went to breakfast again at the big table (huge Irish fry ups were getting tired at this point, but it was excellent) and set out to see Sligo Town, up the road about a half hour from TH, which is in the middle of nowhere. Sligo Town is quite pretty, but also quite dull.  There is a cool modern art museum (The Model), but it is really tiny and had a fairly crap exhibit.  Weather was also fairly crap, raining on and off:

They do have a supercool abbey ruin, which we meant to go into but didn't for some reason:

Actually, I think we spent the most time in Sligo Town shopping, I found a TK Maxx (the UK/Eire TJ Maxx) where I finally got a cute raincoat, which I had been looking for since arriving in the country.  You've been seeing my functional but not very stylish LL Bean coat, this one was more like a trench and only like 20 euro.  For some reason, I have only one photo of it, on our last night in Dublin:


Will pick up next with the overrated megalithic cemetery and an afternoon in Ballymote.

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