Q: I'm planning a month-long trip to Turkey. Any recommendations for a hotel/B&B in the Sultanahmet area for a "double" room with en suite bathroom for about $50 per night during April? Do you think this will be an especially busy time?
A: Istanbul is one of my most favorite cities, and Sultanahmet, the city's historical core, is my favorite area. It's true that a large number of tourists find their way here. So do aggressive carpet salesmen and touts.
But whatever the downsides, Sultanahmet claims one major advantage: All of Istanbul's major mosques, palaces, museums and bazaars are within walking distance.
There are a number of small hotels and pensions in restored Ottoman houses throughout the area. A good choice is the family-run Side Hotel & Pension, across from the Four Seasons. Double rooms with private baths start at 50 euros ($71 at today's exchange rates), breakfast on the rooftop included.
I have fond memories of relaxing there in the evening with views in every direction. See www.sidehotel.com.
A more elegant choice is the beautifully restored 16-room Kybele Hotel, Yerebatan Caddesi 35, Sultanahmet, with doubles starting at 90 euros ($130), including breakfast. Hundreds of handmade colored lamps hang from the ceilings of all the rooms and lobby areas. See www.kybelehotel.com.
I would book early because these two places are popular, although I doubt you'll find most hotels filled in April.
Turkey will be hosting an international basketball event in 2010 which is expected to draw many visitors, but that doesn't take place until Aug. 28-Sept. 12.
Spring is generally a quiet but excellent time to visit. Europeans tend to come in the summer.