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Sumahan on the Water regularly tops the list of Istanbul’s best hotels. It is an enduring design phenomena, a small luxury hotel that integrates high-quality design with respect for its historical and natural setting. The essence of the Sumahan experience is modern comfort, friendly and personal service in an ancient and spectacular context. It is a contemporary architectural treasure, a gateway to Turkish culture and a safe perch to experience the mesmerizing panorama of the Istanbul skyline.

And Sumahan is right on the water. The sound of water lapping at the edge of the garden, the sight of dolphins, as they break through the air, the sunshine filtered by rows of cherry plum trees will transport you to another world. Sumahan is not just a place to stay but an oasis, a uniquely intimate way to experience the gentler side of Istanbul.

SUMAHAN IS A hotel with history

If it all feels intoxicating, there is a reason why. This complex of late Ottoman industrial buildings was built in the 1820’s, during the reign of Sultan Mahmut II as a seaside factory to produce 'suma', the unadulterated spirit used to make high proof ‘rakı’, the Ottomans’ favourite tipple. Where today a sea taxi ferries hotel guests across the Bosphorus, barges laden with figs would arrive to keep the stills of the Sumahan busy. Since 2005, Sumahan continues to produce a different kind of spirit – that of effortless hospitality in an extraordinarily beautiful setting.

Historical photo of Sumahan on the Water Hotel

A photo of the property from the 1950's


Sumahan is a rare Bosphorus-front property.  It is unusual in being one of less than a handful of Bosphorus properties to have remained generations in the original family. Nedret Butler and her husband Mark, both architects, along with their daughters Yasha and Eren, designers, have seen its conversion as an opportunity to preserve a unique example of nineteenth-century industrial design. They have created an environmentally friendly retreat for visitors to the modern city, combining the high comfort of a sophisticated small hotel with the relaxing grace of a private home. Their aim is to provide the highest degree of service to the independent traveller in the intimacy of a family-owned hotel.

Hotel owners and architects Nedret and Mark Butler enjoying the garden.

Mark & Nedret Butler in the waterfront garden of Sumahan on the Water

SUMAHAN IS an architectural treasure

The design philosophy is Turkish but contemporary, uncluttered but warm. The restoration of Sumahan is the culmination of the 30-year labour of love that began with Nedret Butler's architectural thesis. Sumahan’s architecture has two aspects - the original construction that has been restored and the newly built. The parts that are 'new' take their construction system, materials and details from the old, remaining loyal to the building's original design.

On the southern corner of the property is a lighthouse, one of nineteen found on the shores of the Bosphorus. Sumahan's lighthouse, the third lighthouse on the Asian side of the Bosphorus from the Sea of Marmara, is painted with three stripes. You can watch the red signal light blinks in series of three, guiding the ever-changing seascape of freighters, ocean liners, fisherman and ferryboats.

Lounge and library area at the lobby of Sumahan on the Water Hotel.

The library lounge area below the exposed ceiling structure, an architectural element visible throughout the hotel

Garden lights at dusk at Sumahan Hotel.

Sumahan's lighthouse positioned on the coastline of the property at 41° 3′ 13.14″N, 29° 3′ 6.19″E coordinates

A skyline, shaped by millennia of history with a waterwaY that separates Europe from Asia

The Bosphorus is the artery that feeds the heart and spirit of Istanbul. From the hotel, every room looks directly down the Bosphorus towards the Sea of Marmara, through the arch of the suspension bridge and over the twin domes of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, circled by towering minarets which blur into the distant haze. The call to prayer floats over the tide from every corner of the city. The view is the gem and every bed and sofa face a double window. Binoculars are also provided so that guests can study the palaces and people who dot the distant shore. The Bosphorus famously straddles two continents and from your lookout at Sumahan you see it happen - the enchanting blur of antiquity melding into the modern city.

Bosphorus bridge view at night from the hotel.

View of the Bosphorus from Sumahan towards the Sea of Marmara and the Old City

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