Hali Hotel is an affordable place to stay in the center of Istanbul and is easily accessible to all the attractions and cultural institutions.


Amazing view of The Blue Mosque from the Hali Hotel in #Istanbul, #Turkey. #travel #latergram

A photo posted by Monica Wong (@_monicawong) on

I landed in Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport homeless. This was the first time I didn’t book my hotel stay before I arrived. I took public transportation to Sultanahmet and toted my luggage around in search of a place to stay. After stopping by a few hotels, I settled on the Hali Hotel.

Imagine a panoramic view of the Golden Horn, The Haghia Sophia, The Bosporus River, The Blue Mosque and the Sea of Marmara. That’s the view from the terrace of the Hali Hotel, where I had my complimentary breakfast every morning.

The hotel is located within minutes from The Grand Bazaar, The Topkapi Palace, The Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, Suleymaniye’s Mosque, Basilica Cistern and other historical and cultural places. It was the perfect place to stay for my first visit to Istanbul.

The Putin-looking manager at the front desk was a little cold at first but he warmed up to me throughout the week. The bell boy, Hasan, gave me a great tour of the hotel. He was a jovial guy who led a double a life – bell boy by day and hip hop break dancer by night.

For 55 Euros a night, I settled into my temporary home for the week. After a power nap, I went to brunch and ordered my first cup of Turkish coffee. I desperately needed that shot of caffeine before setting out on foot. I always like to familiarize myself with my neighborhood whenever I travel so I walked by the Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque and strolled through Sultanahmet Square, which was packed with tourists and locals.

It was the middle of Ramadan and many of the locals gathered at the Sultanahmet Square to await their first meal of the day. I went back to the Hali Hotel and sat on the terrace for over two hours watching the sky change colors as the sun set. It was the only night I had the terrace to myself. I stayed up there for as long as I could – alone in the dark with nothing but the lights below and the stars above. There was an amazing front row seat of the Hagia Sofia to my left and The Blue Mosque to my right – both lit up with lights.

Monica reflects on her travels by sharing her thoughts on A Cup of Moca. She writes about her journey as she experiences the destination to encourage others to marinate in the moment instead of just checking things off a bucket list.