5. Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet – Istanbul, Turkey
Image: Onur COSKUN/Flickr
Image: Mohamed Haykal/Flickr
A former Ottoman prison isn’t exactly where you would expect a Four Seasons Hotel, but the ultra-luxe chain decided it was the perfect spot for their Turkish boutique. Built in 1918, Sultanahmet Jail was the first prison constructed in Istanbul and it housed intellectual dissidents, artists and writers who opposed Ottoman rule– yikes! After serving for years as a political jail, it was then turned into a military prison, and was ultimately abandoned in 1969.
The Four Seasons took over in 1992 and spent four years renovating the heck out of this building with a pretty unpleasant past. All “Turkish Delight” jokes aside, they left a few adorable “prison-y” touches — like a large marble pillar with the etchings of a former inmate — but for the most part completely redid the interior of the building in a lush, Four Seasons-worthy design.
Need another reason to visit this hotel aside from the stunning interior, history-laden exterior, and superb service? Located in the center of Istanbul’s old city, you could pretty much throw a baseball from Sultanahmet and hit either the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace or The Hippodrome (Eds note: although we suggest just walking to all three).