From former alcohol warehouses to old Ottoman mansions

Four Seasons, Besiktas

The Bosphorus bends for 30km through Istanbul, binding the Black Sea with the Marmara, and dividing the European continent from Asia. Snaked by ferries and shipping tankers, it defines the city as one of the world's great maritime hubs. Distinguished hotels line the banks, one of the finest of which is the Four Seasons. Converted from an old Ottoman mansion, it has 195 imposing rooms with high ceilings and towering windows, a lavish hammam-style spa and an elegant shore-side pool.

Four Seasons, Ciragan Caddesi 28, Besiktas (00 90 212 381 40 00; Doubles start at €572, room only.

Ajia Hotel, Kanlica

The shore-side commune of Kanlica is a picturesque spot in the upper reaches of Asian bank – known for its colourful mansions and wooden houses. Here, Ajia offers a boutique escape away from the bustling city centre, with 16 contemporary rooms encased within a resplendent 19th-century building. All except one of the rooms have a direct Bosphorus view, but reserve one with a balcony to get the most from this utterly bewitching location.

Ajia Hotel, Ahmet Rasim Pasa Yalisi, Cubuklu Caddesi 27, Kanlica (00 90 216 413 9300; Doubles start at €250, room only.

Sumahan, Cengelkoy

This villa was once used as a suma factory to turn raisins into raki, a favoured spirit of the Ottoman rulers and a potent national drink to this day. It is located in the residential district of Cengelkoy and remains in the hands of the original family. The current couple behind it are architects who used their skills to convert the former alcohol warehouse into a sleek 24-room hotel with a spa and newly opened Tapasuma restaurant that serves Turkish mezze.

Sumahan, Kuleli Caddesi 51, Cengelkoy (00 90 216 422 8000; Doubles start at €295, including breakfast.

House Hotel, Ortakoy

This is the newest of three House Hotels in the city and the only one with waterside views. It looks out over the sculpted dome of the Ortakoy Mosque and the muscular arm of the Bosphorus Bridge, in a spot that encapsulates the ancient and modern sides of Istanbul. Parquet floors and period cornicing point to the building's 19th-century origins, while interiors by the award-winning Turkish design duo Autoban add a contemporary edge.

The House Hotel, Salhane Sokak 1, Ortakoy (00 90 212 327 77 87; Doubles start at €169, including breakfast.

Karakoy Rooms, Karakoy

This handsome townhouse in the commercial centre of the city is perfect for those who want to be at the heart of the action. The period doubles are spacious with design-led furniture and antique cast-iron radiators, while a collection of studios is geared up for longer stays with a kitchenette and dining table. For the best views, aim for deluxe doubles which look down across the rooftops to where the Bosphorus meets the Golden Horn estuary.

Karakoy Rooms, Galata Sarap Iskelesi Caddesi (00 90 212 252 54 22;; Doubles from €110, including breakfast.

Ciragan Palace, Besiktas

If it's opulence you're after, check in to this Kempinski-run palace. The grande dame of the European shore was converted into a hotel in 1990. Its trove of indulgent rooms comes draped in rich fabrics, with balconies in some, butler service in others and a Sultan Suite that's decked out with a marble hammam, steam room and crystal bathtub. The gardens are dotted with palm trees, while the infinity pool unfurls with dramatic effect to the water's edge.

Ciragan Palace, Ciragan Caddesi 32, Besiktas (00 90 212 326 46 46; Doubles start at €711, including breakfast.