On some recent visits to Istanbul we stayed in the Renaissance Istanbul Polat Hotel. There is a massive selection of hotels in Istanbul and we narrowed down the options with a list of our must haves. We wanted a Marriott brand hotel with an executive lounge, which was accessible to the sights of Istanbul and had a gym and a pool. Honestly, we’re not fussy!
The Renaissance Polat
The Renaissance Polat met all of our requirements. The hotel has over 400 guest rooms and is located 10 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from the city. It overlooks the Marmara Sea and has a large fitness centre, an indoor and outdoor pool and an executive lounge. So far, so good!
There is some airport style security at the entrance to the hotel and our cases and bags were scanned whenever we passed through.
We stayed in a standard room with a view of the Marmara Sea which allowed us to watch some beautiful sunsets. The bed was comfortable and there was some storage and a flat screen television. Both the bedroom and bathroom were quite compact but we weren’t planning on spending much time in the room so it wasn’t an issue!
On our first stay we were allocated a room on the 23rd floor which was only serviced by one of the four elevators. It’s impossible to specify which elevator to call and so we wasted a lot of time waiting in both the lobby and on the concierge floor. I would avoid this floor at all costs if granted access to the concierge lounge as it was really infuriating sending elevators up and down in the hope that the elusive 23rd floor elevator would arrive!
Restaurants and Bars
The hotel has a selection of bars and restaurants including a fish restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, a sports bar and a coffee shop. We tried out the Sports Bar for some traditional American comfort food and the Coffee Shop for some sweet treats and enjoyed both.
The Sports Bar has a lovely terrace overlooking the hotel grounds and the Marmara Sea and we had fun chilling out with a Corona and enjoying the view.
The Champion Sports Bar:
The Renaissance Polat has no shortage of leisure facilities and there is an extensive gym, an indoor and outdoor pool, tennis courts and a Spa. The outdoor pool was closed during our first visit but it was cold and windy so we we didn’t mind. It was open when we returned later in the year but the water was freezing. I could barely summon up the courage to dip a toe in!
Outdoor swimming pool:
The Shuttle Bus
The hotel provides a complementary shuttle bus to the airport and the city, both of which we used.
The airport shuttle operates every hour between 6am and 11pm and takes hotel guests to and from the airport. We never had to wait too long for the shuttle and it was really convenient piling on the hotel bus with our luggage and arriving at the hotel ten minutes later. No thought required, perfect after a flight!
The city shuttle leaves the hotel at 10.30am and 2.30pm and stops at Eminönü and Istiklal Street, both of which are convenient for some sightseeing and shopping.
The Eminönü stop is across from the Eminönü tram on the Zeytinburnu-Kabataş line which connects the historical and modern parts of Istanbul. The stops include the Grand Bazaar, Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sofia) and Kabataş (connects to the Taksim Funicular). The Spice Bazaar is within walking distance. Check out our guide to the must see Istanbul sights for some trip inspiration!
The second stop, just off Istiklal Street, is perfect for a spot of retail therapy and catching a glimpse of the historic red tram which runs along the pedestrianised street.
The journey took a maximum of 30 minutes between the hotel and Eminönü and the same between Eminönü and Istiklal. This was in the worst of the Istanbul evening traffic, we made it into Eminönü in as quickly as 15 minutes on some mornings.
If the bus times don’t suit there are public buses and taxis (around 30 or 40 lira).
Marriott Rewards Platinum Benefits
As a Marriott Platinum Elite member I received the following benefits:
- 500 Marriott rewards points on arrival
- Room upgrade from city view room to sea view room
- Access to the Executive Lounge (open 6am to midnight)
- Free wi-fi
The concierge lounge is located on the 22nd floor of the hotel and serves breakfast from 6am to 10am and evening canapés from 5.30pm to 9.30pm. There is also an evening Happy Hour with wine, spirits and beers from 5.30pm to 8.30pm.
The lounge is spacious and airy and has views of Ataturk International Airport. There’s a variety of couches and tables and there are plenty of seats, even during busy periods.
The continental breakfast is enjoyable and has a wide selection of foods including cereals, meats, salmon, cheeses, some cooked food and breads.
Each evening there is a hot buffet with 3 or 4 hot items and a variety of sandwiches and cheeses. These are accompanied by some nibbles and fruits and a dessert buffet later in the evening. During our stays the hot items included fish and chips, lamb kebabs, salmon fillets, mini baked potatoes and some Turkish specialities.
The Business Centre, which is located within the concierge lounge, has 3 desktop computers and printing facilities.
Being loyal Marriott Reward members we wanted to stay in a Marriott hotel where we could earn points and enjoy the benefits of our Platinum membership. The Renaissance Polat was exactly what we were looking for in our Istanbul hotel. We had access to the hotel lounge, free wi-fi and complementary breakfast.
Although the Renaissance is not in the city centre the complementary shuttle bus is an excellent service offered by the hotel and we used it to get to and from the airport and to go in and out of town daily. It was reliable and we didn’t encounter any excessive journey times during our stay despite some of the heavy traffic which is typical in Istanbul. The location is not for everyone but we didn’t find the journey to the city a major drawback.
Check-out was quite a lengthy process (I’ve no idea why) but some time needs to be allowed for checking out if getting a scheduled shuttle bus. I was lucky that we were the only passengers on the bus to the airport and the driver waited the 15 minutes it took to settle our bill.
Overall, it was an excellent choice for our stay.