I have spent countless nights in both the old and the new Istanbul airports. This was always due to a late flight out from Greece and the early flight to JFK – and these were my favorite ones to use! This was because I could get a full day in Greece and then still arrive in New York before lunch the next day. For all of these overnights, I always just stayed at the lounge and worked for a while before napping on a couch in the lounge.
Hotel Review: YOTELAIR Istanbul Airport (Airside)
Link: YOTELAIR Istanbul Airport (Airside)
But, recently, I had an overnight with my family so I finally actually stayed in the YOTELAIR Istanbul Airport hotel on the airside. Honestly, it was the most I ever spent for a single night in a hotel (but it was for two rooms) so, was it worth it? Here we go with a quick look to answer that.
I ended up booking this at the absolute last minute (just before boarding the plane in Greece) because of a cancellation that ended up having us fly the night before our original flight. This meant that we would be arriving in Istanbul just after midnight and I was traveling with my wife and 5 kids so this was going to be the time to have to book this hotel.
Booking was fast and easy and I was able to just quickly choose to have the same information for the first room apply for the second room. This way, I was done in less than 2 minutes on the site. After booking the reservation, I quickly sent them an e-mail to make sure they realized we were getting in after midnight so they didn’t give away our reservation (we booked two rooms of which there were a limited amount).
Do note that you can only stay in this hotel if you are an international transit passenger. If you arrive and do not have a ticket for onward travel, you will not be able to stay here as they do check your tickets before you would be able to check-in.
There are actually two YOTEL hotels in the Istanbul airport – one is airside (in the international terminal) and the other is landslide (after you clear passport control and enter Turkey). Believe it or not, the price is not that much more to stay airside, which is nice given that there is added convenience to not having to clear passport control for the night’s stay.
The signs for the YOTELAIR airport are clear enough as it shows the symbol for the hotel and the name on the overhead signs as you make your way to the center of the terminal. It can be quite a walk – as pretty much anything at this airport is – but we did it in about 15 minutes from arrival.
The entrance area to the hotel is quite large, larger than you may expect for an airport hotel. But, there will be no missing it as you approach the entrance!
Here is what the hotel says: We are located within the main terminal building on the Departures Floor (2nd floor) in the Transit (Duty-Free) area. Please follow Gates A and B, you will find our hotel next to the LCW store.
Given that they specifically state how many people can stay in a room, there may be people that try to “sneak” in any extra people in the group. They do seem to watch for that carefully as you need to pass by the desk to get to the elevators and there is not a whole lot of area between the two so you can’t just be “invisible” in that area (just saying this in case anyone thinks that they can do it!). Not saying that people don’t do this, but I observed them stopping several people that were trying it.
For every person staying in a room, they need the passport and onward ticket. The check-in process did take a little while because of having to enter each person’s information. It took about 15 minutes from the time I stepped up to the counter until we had our keys.
One nice thing – there is an upsell that they have for their lounge for breakfast and such. We had no plans to do this anyway since we were flying Turkish business class and would have access to the lounges for free. The nice thing was that the agent noted from our boarding pass that we were in business class and mentioned that since we had access to the Turkish lounge, we probably wouldn’t want the lounge that they offered (of course, he was right!). I thought it was good of him to see that and not try to sell us on it anyway (especially if we didn’t know about the Turkish lounge, like if it was our first time or something).
One thing to note: if you have multiple rooms and they are on different floors, the keys to each room are coded to only allow the person access to the floor their room is on. The check-in agent said this was an airport regulation. So, keep this in mind if you are on different floors.
The Rooms – YOTELAIR Istanbul Airport
I was pleasantly surprised that the rooms were more roomy than what I had imagined (even though the website clearly says the size of the rooms – I had not paid much attention since I booked so fast). Also, the rooms were a bit on the modern/tech side of things with the lighting and layout and such.
I do not have photos of my own since we got into the rooms around 1am and my family was exhausted. 🙂 But, the hotel photos below are good representations of what the room was like.
We booked the biggest rooms, the First Class King with Bunk. This room sleeps 4 adults and a baby in a baby bed (upon request). The bunk beds were actually really good sized and if you are traveling with kids, this room could probably do 2 adults and 4 kids with no problem but it was capped at 4 adults/kids and a baby.
There are limited amounts of these rooms so if you are traveling with enough people to need one of these, make sure you snag one when you know you need it! That being said, we were able to book 2 of them just 2 hours before we checked in so they are available at times also.
The king bed was with something like a memory foam. It was hard at the first feel but eventually, it adjusted to my form and it was very comfortable to sleep in. We all slept tremendously well, even though it was a bit on the warm side in the room (with the temperature turned all the way down). There were various lighting options around the room but I did not find a light that would have made a nice “night light” for purposes of getting around (kind of important with the kids!). We ended up using the desk lap at the work area which worked well.
All the beds were great and the extra space of the work area was excellent as well. We left after everyone woke up and got ready so we really didn’t spend any amount of awake time in the room. Checkout was 11AM and the hotel does offer hourly rates so this would be a great place if you needed to spend a few hours during a layover as there is a large television and enough floor space for little kids to spread out a bit and play for a little while.
My only real negative about this place was the bathroom situation. There were frosted glass doors for the toilet and then one for the shower. But, no locks. And no fans. So it doesn’t feel like a place that some people may feel comfortable being if they are traveling with others. Just a FYI. Obviously, if you are needing a hotel airside, this is your only option and you aren’t going to skip it for that! 🙂
As I said, this was the most I ever paid for a single night at hotel – €680 for the two rooms. Was it worth it? Honestly, in our specific situation (we had a last minute change that required us to spend the night and a total of 20 hours in the airport), it was ok. With 5 children, I would not have wanted to just stay in the terminal or even lounge. Though, years ago, we did stay at the old airport lounge overnight with our kids but that was only because they had slept the entire 10 hour flight in business class from the US and we had an overnight at the airport. They weren’t ready for sleeping so they had a blast in the lounge all night.
If you want to sleep well and you have kids, this is the best option. There are cheaper rooms for up to 3 people around €180 for the night so that is actually quite reasonable for the fact that you are in the only airside hotel.
The rooms go from 13 square meters at the smallest to 33 square meters in the room we were in (about 350 square feet).
Now, anyone that knows about the layover options with Turkish is by now probably thinking “why didn’t they take the free hotel from Turkish Airlines?!”. That is an excellent question! Since we were flying business class and had a connection time over 9 hours (with no earlier flight options), Turkish Airlines would have paid for a very nice 4 star hotel for our family. So, why didn’t we do that?
Part of the answer is that it would have cost us $350 for our family to get the visas. Yes, we could use them again but we had no plans to return to Turkey for a while so it would have essentially been a single visit. Plus, everyone was tired and we would need to clear passport control, be shuttled to the hotel, back the next morning, through security and passport control. So, in the end, we paid about $350 extra to not do those extra steps. In our specific situation, it worked.
But, if you are not traveling with young kids and you have the time, I definitely suggest you get the e-visa and take the hotel Turkish Airlines offers you! Here is the website that gives the requirements you must meet to get the free hotel.
For convenience and access, the YOTELAIR Istanbul Airport Airside hotel cannot be beat. If you have access to Turkish Airlines lounges and are traveling by yourself or with another adult, it can be a nice alternative to just grab some sleep there (especially if you can grab one of the rest studios – not a sleep studio). In fact, you could always put your carryons in the lounge lockers and then go grab one of the reclined chairs in the terminal.
But, if you are traveling with kids or you just really want to make sure you get some good sleep (particularly important if you are traveling in economy!), this is a great option.
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