Instanbul’s Sultanahmet neighbourhood is its biggest drawcard. This is where you’ll find the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace – the big stuff that every tourist to Turkey’s capital is contractually obliged to see. These attractions make it one of the most grand and opulent places on earth. Which is why I was surprised to find a hostel there.
Sitting right in the guts of Sultanahmet, no more than a 5 minute walk from all the major sites, is Big Apple hostel. It’s very much a young buck on the Istanbul hostel scene, but it’s already making big waves. In 2016 Hostelworld awarded it the Hoscar for the best hostel in all of Turkey, a title that it has managed to win again this year.
And on entering Big Apple, you’ll soon see why.
The building is a gorgeous old stone number that is seemingly cut from one big chunk of marble. It sits on a cute cobblestone street that’s wedged between the big tourist sites of Sultanahmet and the ocean. On entering the foyer of the hostel – yes, it’s got a foyer – you’ll be assaulted with antique furniture and décor that has been gilded to within an inch of its life. It seriously looks like a super luxurious boutique hotel. At first I thought I must’ve stumbled into the wrong joint.
The rooms are a little more contemporarily decorated, and are all incredibly comfortable having been fitted with air conditioners, en suites and mattresses of the highest quality. You get a personal wall plug and a fun little pouch to put your valuables in – or at least those that you don’t feel like storing in your complementary locker.
But the pièce de résistance of Big Apple is situated four storeys above the ground. There are few things in life I like more than a good roof terrace. Unfortunately I can’t call the roof terrace of Big Apple good. I have to call it f***ing great.
It’s an absolute stunner, offering almost uninterrupted views to the ocean and across to the Asian side of Istanbul. The bar staff are super friendly, super chatty, and very generous with the shisha/hookah/Turkish nargile/whatever the hell you want to call the smoking thing. Beers are cheap and frosty, and if you’re not a drinker nor a partier, never fear – the terrace is where your delightful free breakfast will be served. It’s honestly as good a communal area as I’ve seen in a hostel, and I’ve seen a few.
For a combination of location, staff, value and pure pimpedness, it’s hard to think of any hostel that comes close to Big Apple. The awards aren’t for nothing – this is the best hostel in Turkey, and your trip to Istanbul will be made all the more awesome for staying here.