My Apartment in Beyoğlu

Hmm… I’m still struggling as to how I should structure my [Europe 2016] travelogue… I guess I’ll get there eventually, in a couple more days time.

So maybe I should start with the easiest topic: my accommodations throughout my two weeks vacation. Let’s start with the first one today. My apartment for 3 days and 2 nights when I first arrived in Istanbul.

I booked this apartment through AirBnb at the very last minute. Truth be told, my original plan was to fly in to Istanbul, spend one night (preferably somewhere near the airport), and then fly out to Barcelona. But thanks to SQ flight re-scheduling, I got to spend an extra day for my first leg in Istanbul. With two nights instead of one, it made little sense to stay near the airport, so I looked further away.

At that point of time, I have already booked my return leg’s stay in Sultanahmet, so I thought I should try Taksim, in the Beyoğlu area. After all, this is another highly recommended area to stay in Istanbul, and better still, the Havatas airport shuttle stops in the vicinity.

map
A map for those who are interested. Star is Taksim/where airport shuttle goes to

So I spent 5 minutes scouring AirBnb for properties around Taksim Square. There’s quite a lot of them. Now, I’m cheap, but I also know I should not go for the cheapest option because the cheapest option usually sucks. So I went for the second cheapest option. That’s how I ended up with this apartment.

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The apartment

Well, yeah, it looks kind of old and run down from the outside. If you like to judge books by their covers, then bad news for you, because if you decided to come to Istanbul for a vacation, most of the apartments and even hotels are like this. Because most of the buildings in the heart of Istanbul are run down buildings like this.

Of course, you can get nicer properties further away from the city center. Or you can always pay much more for a fancy hotel if you like something that looks nicer. For example,

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The nicely painted hotel opposite my apartment where you pay double the price for a room less than half the size.

Also, because most of the buildings here are very old, there’s no lift. If you have a big and heavy luggage, and you get a property on the fourth floor for example, then…

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Hur hur hur…

Lucky for me, I got the first floor apartment, so the climb was not terrible…

Also, if you were following me on Facebook, you would’ve known that I was terrified of the dog that sets up base just in front of the above mentioned fancy hotel, barking all day long. But I quickly learned that unlike in Malaysia, dogs here don’t go after humans (me) in general. They only go crazy at the sight of other dogs, or when some moronic young kids try to kick them.

Okay, enough bad news. And actually, this kind of situation will affect you not just in this specific apartment, but in most AirBnb apartments and cheap hotels in Istanbul.

Now, some good news. My host Isik is a very nice person. I think he is a full time AirBnb host, because the entire lot where my apartment was, belongs to him. And he has a couple other lots just down the street. I think he probably has about 10 properties in total on AirBnb.

So far, I’ve seen many of my friends use AirBnb, and most of the time their host would wait for them at the property itself, or even just tell them where to get the keys. With Isik, he made me stay at the bus drop off point and personally came to meet me and escort me to the property (10 minutes walk with luggage in tow). I thought it was a pretty nice gesture, because if you are new to Istanbul, it is probably quite easy to get lost in the midst of all the narrow alleys.

Let’s talk about the location of the apartment itself…

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View from when I got out of the apartment

If you look at the picture above, the narrow alley goes out straight to Taksim Square. At most 100 meters to the Taksim metro station (LRT/MRT), and another 100 meters to Istiklal Caddesi, the most happening street in Beyoğlu. To put it simply, the location of this apartment is perfect! That’s the single most important reason why I am bloody pleased with this apartment.

Let’s show you the insides of my apartment unit…

Bathroom
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Shower
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Kitchen and washing machine
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Bedroom with Queen size bed
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TV, table and chairs
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Couch
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Books

Of course, the books were useless to me as they were all Turkish books, and I quickly discovered that the TV was useless to me too even though there’s satellite TV channels. I mean, Turkish dubbed CNN and Disney channel were pretty pointless…

But apart from such minor details, I liked this apartment. It’s small, but adequate. And it’s clean. And the bed is comfortable. And the couch is even more comfortable. And there’s free drinking water (look at the kitchen picture). Tap water is not guaranteed safe to drink in Istanbul by the way, refer to WaterSoftenerGuide.com for more on that. And the high speed internet is really insanely high speed!

And it’s cheap! I mean, relatively cheap. I paid US$ 73 (US$ 8 of it for AirBnb fees) for two nights in this apartment. Did I mention that you can pay double the price for a room less than half the size of the apartment just across the alley?

I don’t think I’m not sure if I will ever visit Istanbul again. But if I do, I guess I will come looking for Isik again.

30 Comments

  1. The apartment looks really nice. And that is an incredibly good price. Our apartment in the heart of Beyoglu was soooooo expensive (it was $1200US for just two weeks) but I think it’s because we went during the height of tourist season. We checked again for off season and it’s significantly less. It’s the same kind of thing, run down building, but quite decent inside. I like the run down buildings though… gives the area character :).

    • Yeah, my host mentioned about the different prices for different seasons too. I don’t mind run down buildings too, as long as the inside is alright. But I imagine a lot of Malaysians (and Asians I suppose) who come here would be deterred by the looks of the buildings. After all, we’re used to vacation apartments looking like the one you stayed in KL. 🙄

  2. The apartment looks clean to me. When it comes to hotel/apartment stay, I really concern about the cleanliness, as well as the odorless environment.

    • Yup, if the place is lacking in cleanliness, no matter how nice or fancy also useless, because you cannot relax with peace of mind… 🙂

  3. I am very impressed with this review, CL. Very comprehensive and if I do decide to visit Istabul at some point, I’ll consider this location. Didn’t know the water from the tap in Istanbul isn’t all that safe to drink. Sort of like Malaysia and Indonesia where the water can come directly from the unclean well.

    Bed looks good, not sunken in. Looks like you take your shoes off in the apartment?

    • Well, officially the water is safe to drink, but I read a lot of travelers who advised against it. I think it makes sense, as most of the buildings are very old, so who knows what the piping conditions are? The water might be treated properly, but if the delivery pipes are not up to mark then it is pretty pointless…

      Yeah, I like going barefoot, and since the apartment was clean, no reason not to take off my shoes. 😀

  4. that’s a cosy lil apartment. It even have a washing machine?! great, I can do some laundry worrying of not having enuff clean clothes to wear.

    • Yeah, I only stayed there for 2 nights and I used the washing machine once too, to maximize my available clothes…

  5. The apartment looks quite cosy and comfortable. It’s really nice that Isik went to escort you personally. The price is quite alright. I used to think that renting an apartment for vacation is expensive.

  6. I always had same headaches to blog about my travels in the past. In the end, I used my mobile phone to capture photos for my FB and blogs only while my mini DSLR snapped everything for remembrance. Blogging is like an Art that requires some skills and little techniques to make reading interesting. I have no more headaches ever since.

    The apartment you stayed looks like Penang’s houses! The interior is acceptable except the dated bathroom. So long as they are all clean, I am okay and not fussy on dated furnishings and ambiance. In fact, I love to sleep in historical hotels which have eerie looks but they are often very pricey. Just like that Cheong Fatt Tze’s mansion, which costs a bomb to sleep amongst the ………..

    I always avoided apartments after having some bad encounters like all the long pontianak hairs on the stained bedsheets and thick dusts all over the room. I told myself to pay slightly more to stay at budget hotels. After that, I told myself to pick bargain hotels that threw prices. No ending one. Wakakaka

    • In Penang, they use “old” and “heritage” as selling point instead to charge higher prices. In Istanbul because everything also old, so they treat it as old buildings and charge lower prices.

      Apartments and hotels same in my opinion. It depends on the proprietor doing a good job of cleaning up. The only way to guarantee cleanliness and comfort is to pay for 5 star hotels…

  7. I don’t mind going for the cheapest option when I’m travelling, especially in overseas, coz I know nomatter how cheapest or cheapestpest, it’s still more OK than Msia kua.. And if in a gang, lagi tak payah takut lor.. Just need a place to sleep and shower only.. But you alone, ok la, then maybe can pamper yourself a bit.. Your apartment actually look very ok to me already, luxury looking jugak..

    • No leh, sometimes those cheap hotels really very screw up one. I’ve stayed in small and dirty places before, it really makes you bad mood throughout your vacation 😐 …

  8. not bad, you got yourself a whole apartment than just a room!! you had all the amenities and much more space.. now you remind me of the room I got in HK, same price but just one room of the same apartment, haha!! :p

  9. Everything looks good from the bedroom, to the couch, to the kitchen except the toilet looks a bit old

    When I went Turkey that time, we stayed in around three hotels, changed hotel every two to three days

    When I booked my own hotel online during my trip to Beijing in 2004, I had a horrible experience. The hotel practised giving the keys to the security for safe keep and when you come back and want to go to your room, you have to get your keys from the security (so old fashion)…and the hot shower got timing one also, after 11pm, there won’t be any hot water available, horrible…the booking was not done by me, but by my tour partner, wonder how she ended up with a hotel like this

    • The hot water arrangement is a nightmare indeed, but actually I like the old fashion way of handing keys to the security. I got that in Barcelona too. It is old fashion and annoying, but it ensures you won’t lose your room keys in case you got hit by pickpockets. You can leave your important belongings in the hotel room safely (provided the hotel is not a dodgy one lah)..

  10. I think from outside, the apartment looks quite ok, not that old and run down. Your view from when your got out of the apartment also shows buildings that look nice from the outside. USD73 is like around MYR330 for two nights which means only MYR165 per night. Wah a very good price. Your host must be a very rich guy to own so many units on the same street or is he just the manager or agent for these units?

    The inside of the apartment looks so good. Doesn’t look small at all. Since you are very satisfied with it, did you give it a high rating on AirBnB?

    Lucky the dog is not interested in you, hehehe.

    • Maybe not that run down, but definitely old. The buildings here, probably as old as Petaling Street if not older. And now that you mentioned, my photos look much better than how I remember it to be… hmmm 🙄 …

      He said he owns the properties. But then it was his words, I have no way to confirm. For all I know, maybe he is just the agent. He said he has been doing apartment rental to tourists since 2007 (before AirBnb)…

      Well, yeah, I gave it pretty good rating. I mean, honest rating 😛 …

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