There are two Four Seasons Hotels in Istanbul: The Four Seasons Istanbul on the Bosphorus and the Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet. I have already reviewed the former’s afternoon tea and it was fantastic. Let’s see if the Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet afternoon tea is as good as its sister hotel:
The Setting ★★★★★
The Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet is located in the heart of the eponymous neighbourhood, just a stroll away from many of Istanbul’s most famed spots such as the Ayasofya, the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace.
It wasn’t always such a welcoming place, as the hotel sits on the grounds of a former prison. An inmate who stayed in one of its cells for 18 years once wrote: “All the world’s an inn – or that’s the tale, but Sultanahmet is a stinking jail”.
The hotel is now magnificent, so much that it seems really incredible that it was once among Istanbul’s harshest places of detention. The old building was very cleverly renovated: the old exercise yard is now a gorgeous courtyard garden brimming with greenery and beautiful flowers.
Afternoon tea is served in several venues, each with an atmosphere of its own. The Four Seasons staff is very accommodating so you should be able to enjoy your afternoon tea at the venue of your choosing as long as there are free tables.
I chose the Seasons Restaurant but in hindsight, the outside terrace is probably the nicest venue at this time of the year. I will let you form your own opinion from the pictures below:
The Seasons Restaurant
The Seasons Restaurant Terrace
The Piano Lounge, The Dining Room & The Winter Garden
Live music: No
The Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★☆☆
There are 10 teas and infusions on offer from the Ronnefeldt company. I was quite surprised to see that there was no tea menu but that might be because I had the afternoon tea in the restaurant instead of the lounge.
Turkish Tea and 9 teas & infusions from the Ronnfeldt teahouse (black, green and infusions); Turkish coffee.
The Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet Afternoon Teas
There are two options to choose from: the Traditional afternoon tea and the Turkish afternoon tea. I recommend going with some friends in order to sample both or even order both versions should you have a good appetite.
Ordering both versions won’t even break the bank as this afternoon tea is the cheapest in Istanbul (65TL per person).
The Savouries ★★★★☆
The Turkish afternoon tea savouries are fairly pleasant but drenched in oil:
- Sü Borek Pie with Cheese
- Paçanga Borek Pie with Pastrami
The Traditional afternoon tea savouries are much more pleasant and varied:
- Salmon & Cream Cheese toast ♥
- Mozzarella & Tomato Toast
- Turkey & Veggies Toast
The Muffin & Scone ★★★☆☆
Guests who order the Turkish afternoon tea are served with a Muffin while the Traditional afternoon tea comes with one big scone.
The muffin is tasty but the scone is quite dry and oddly shaped. They are both served with cream and homemade strawberry jam, which is so good that you may even enjoy that scone after all! Most afternoon teas in Istanbul do not come with homemade jam so this is highly appreciated.
None of the afternoon teas in Istanbul are served with traditional clotted cream so this criterion cannot be taken into account
The Cakes & Sweets ★★★★☆
The Turkish afternoon tea ends with five gorgeous sweet bites (perhaps excessively sweet for some):
- Fruit Tart
- Chocolate Cube
- Caramel & Nuts Crumble (shot glass)
The Traditional afternoon tea offers less variety but the sweets are quite tasty:
- Baklava assortment
I have really high expectations from the staff when I visit a Four Seasons Hotel, as they tend to offer the best service in the industry. While it was definitely great in some aspects (very nice welcome at the gate), it also had a few noticeable hiccups (e.g. no tea menu?).
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★☆☆
The Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet afternoons tea is an experience well worth the visit, but it’s more about the gorgeous setting than the afternoon tea itself. Still, at 65TL/person (roughly 12€/£10) it’s nothing short of a steal! If you’re in the centre of Istanbul and need a break after visiting Sultanahmet most famous spots, look no further.
If you only have time for one afternoon tea while visiting Istanbul, I recommend going to the Four Seasons Istanbul on the Bosphorus (which offers a fantastic view of the Bosphorus Strait) or the Raffles Istanbul (the best in the city for tea connoisseurs and gourmets).
+: Fantastic setting
+: World’s nicest prison
+: Four different venues
+: Two afternoon teas in one
+: That homemade jam
+: The cheapest afternoon tea in Istanbul (65TL/person)
+: Great value for money
-: Limited tea selection and no tea menu
-: Average food overall
-: The oily Turkish afternoon tea savouries
-: The odd Traditional afternoon tea scone
-: Service not on par with Four Seasons standards
Phone: +90 212 402 30 00