Given the boggling variety of architectural and design styles that crowd the eye in Istanbul, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to find the industrial-chic SuB Hotel in Karaköy (née Galata), the ancient commercial and cultural core of the city. And yet, let’s be honest: it is a bit of a surprise. SuB Hotel, quirky capitalization and all, looks more like a place you’d find in Greenpoint (Brooklyn) or Neukölnn (Berlin) than in the oldest part of one of history’s great crossroads of civilizations. But there it is, in the middle of the action and a short ride (or scenic thirty-minute walk) across Galata Bridge to the famous sites of Sultanahmet.
If you’ll forgive the cliché, the hotel truly is a haven from the city — quiet and spacious and full of light, with state-of-the-art beds and a pared-down décor that’s a balm after all the stimulation of the streets outside. The materials of choice are concrete and metal, with exposed bolts in the support beams running through some of the rooms, but small luxuries like plush Turkish cotton towels and goose down duvets keep it all from feeling too cold.
You won’t find many frills at the SuB Hotel — no designer shops, no fancy fitness centers — but what’s there is done well. Take the restaurant, Via Vai. It's housed in a quirky space that looks a bit like an auto-garage remade by a very clever interior decorator, and meals there unfold at a leisurely pace. Incongruous though it may sound given the industrial style of the space, breakfast is a delightful succession of traditional Turkish delicacies — cheeses and meats and pastries and jams and on and on it goes. And from time to time, live jazz makes it all the easier to linger a long while at the hotel. Still, it’d be a shame not to get out and explore the neighborhood anyway, and whatever else you might hunger for, you won’t go hungry in Karaköy.