We’re going to put this right out there: This is a review of how much we loved this hotel. In fact, it may just be our favorite place we stayed in the past few years. As if there weren’t enough reasons to go to Istanbul, Six Senses Kocatas adds to the list. It’s more than a luxury hotel in Istanbul; it’s an authentic piece of Ottoman history.
There are some hotels, where you walk in, and the good energy is off the charts. For me, that was the Six Senses Kocatas, a luxury hotel in Istanbul. While the Six Senses is an international brand, the Istanbul outpost is an intimate, boutique property with 43 rooms. There is just something distinctly authentic about the Six Senses Kocatas. The Six Senses restored the mansions to make you feel like you time traveled back to the Ottoman Empire. Kocatas is unique from the other Six Senses hotels for two main reasons. First, the hotel is in a city. Most of the other Six Senses are in remote locales like Bhutan, Cambodia and the Megeve desert.
Second, this isn’t a new build or modern hotel. Instead, the Six Senses Kocatas is two historic Ottoman-era mansions, which were meticulously refurbished. Six Senses Kocatas feels like a home, from the moment you enter the reception area, and walk through the elegant and tasteful parlor and living rooms. Yet, the hotel has full-on facilities, with three unique restaurants and an outdoor courtyard, filled with more locals than tourists. This is the place to stay if you like intimate boutique hotels with character and personalized service.
The architecture of the hotel is traditional and the decor is updated just enough to be contemporary Turkish classic. Tasteful is what comes to mind, to describe the rooms, which are beautifully and classically appointed. The rooms that face the Bosphorus are stunning, with high ceilings and large windows. There’s a junior suite with balcony for those who want to splurge. Even if you like starkly modern interiors, you can appreciate how each room is elegantly decorated. You almost want drapes to be back in style again, after a visit here.
On the specs, rooms are generously sized, with comfortable sitting areas. TVs in many rooms are in custom cabinets and rise with the press of a button. All the rooms have modern amenities like stereo systems that sync into your iPhone. Baths are also generous, many with large soaking tubs.
The spa recently opened, and is a separate stand alone stone compound up the hill from the Kocatas Mansion. When I was there, the path from the hotel was not yet complete, so it was a drive up into the local neighborhood. That positive energy I mentioned when you arrive at the hotel, translates even more so to the historic spa. While Turkey is famous for their hammam treatments, Kocatas is easily one of the best spas of any of the luxury hotel in Istanbul options. Like the hotel, the spa is intimate, with just five treatment rooms and three hammams.
The treatments are top notch. The spa combines traditional products with Biologique Recherche. I don’t think there is a treatment bed more comfortable. The beds are plush, warm and lull you into deep relaxation, without even a finger on you. You can just nap and get benefits, but then you would miss out on the transformative treatments. The Royal Hammam treatment gets you exfoliated, soaped, masked and massaged into complete bliss. This is a must treatment. Make sure to also book massages and the facials on additional visits.
In a time where a lot of hotels struggle to staff up, the Six Senses Kocatas reminded me of the pre-pandemic glory days. The moment you exit your car, there’s a small army of bell men and reception greet you. It’s nice that there’s no lack of the welcome committee, which continues to check in. Everyone in the restaurants, spa and management can’t do enough for you. The housekeeping is meticulous. They hit all the right notes with the team.
Hotel restaurants can be boring, but not here at the Kocatas. In fact, the hotel is a destination, where there are often more locals than tourists. For such an intimate hotel, there are a lot of food and beverage options. Two plus the courtyard and living room, to be exact. Each of the offerings though are distinct from each other. There’s a traditional Turkish taverna, Avlu, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The courtyard serves the Avlu menu, which is a lively scene for evening drinks.
The locals especially seem to like the Asian/sushi restaurant, Toro Latin Gastro Bar, which is packed on both floors. The top floor of the restaurant has a transparent floor, to look into the original ruins beneath. If you are truly a sushi aficionado, the restaurant is more scene and presentation, but it’s a good time.