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Review: Tomtom Suites Istanbul – My Stay As The Only Guest!



In a nutshell: the Tomtom Suites Istanbul is an excellent boutique hotel offering large, comfortable rooms in a historic building with a top-floor restaurant that serves an excellent breakfast with views of the Bosporus. The hotel in close proximity to the shopping along Istiklal Caddesi, and you can also easily catch the tram into the old city. This would be my first choice of hotel if headed back to Istanbul. 

The Tomtom Suites Istanbul was the last of the three hotels I picked for my brief time exploring Turkey’s largest city. I spent the first night at the Nish Palas and the following one at the Park Hyatt Istanbul. The Tomtom Suites Istanbul isn’t in the same neighborhood as the other two hotels, but it is easy to reach by taxi. The hotel is also the most boutique of the three I picked, with just 20 rooms.

Booking the Tomtom Suites Istanbul

The Tomtom Suites is a Small Luxury Hotel (SLH) property that participates in the World of Hyatt program. Like the Park Hyatt a couple kilometers away, it is a Category 4 property, requiring 15,000 points per night. Cash rates were over €180 per night before taxes, and I elected to use a Category 1-4 free night certificate I’d earned when I hit the 30-night milestone reward this year.

Stays at SLH properties include a number of benefits for World of Hyatt members, including:

Complimentary Wi-FiDaily complimentary continental breakfast for two guestsRoom upgrade (one category at check-in if available)Early check-in (noon, based upon availability at check-in)Late check-out (2:00pm, based upon availability at check-in)

I’d end up using every one of these benefits during my stay. But I was in for even more of a surprise during my stay!

Unique Arrival Experience

I took a cab to the Tomtom Suites after checking out of the Park Hyatt. Similar to the previous day, my plan was to check in early, drop my stuff, and head out to explore the city all day. This would turn out to be my best day in Istanbul, as I had both a Bosporus boat tour and a hammam visit on the agenda. Given the state of travel, I figured the hotel would have no problem checking me in at 9:30 AM.

The taxi couldn’t get me quite to the hotel. There are pylons blocking the entrance to Tomtom Kaptan Street, and he dropped me about 100 meters from the hotel. This was no issue, but keep it in mind if you have a lot of luggage. I have to imagine that there is a way to enter and exit the street, as I saw other cars passing through successfully. 

The Tomtom Suites Istanbul is located in a neat old building that was formerly a convent. The “Franciscan Nuns’ House” as it was called, is over 100 years old. Across the street is the Italian consulate. I read the historical sign and admired the art in the entryway before continuing into the lobby. 

Although the hotel is within an old stone building, you’d never know it from the modern style of the lobby. The receptionist at the front desk greeted me warmly, asking, “you must be Mr. Snyder?” This caught me off guard. I’ve only been greeted once by name before check-in, and it was only because I arrived super late. It’s pretty easy to guess the name of the remaining guest to check into a completely full hotel.

It turns out is was even easier in the case of the Tomtom Suites. The front desk informed me that I was the only person checking in that day. The hotel had no guests the previous night, nor did they have any booked for the following night. I would very literally have the hotel to myself.

I’d figured occupancy would be down, but I didn’t expect to be the only person at the hotel. The Park Hyatt had felt deserted, but I did manage to spot a few other guests during my stay. This takes things to a new level.

According to the receptionist, the Tomtom Suites never closed during the pandemic, which surprised me. The hotel went for several weeks without a single guest during the spring. He did comment that they had roughly 50 guests over the weekend, so things are on the upswing. I can’t imagine how much money they have lost this year, though.

It did occur to me that I may not even be helping by staying on points. I’m curious how much Hyatt reimburses SLH properties for award stays. I have to imagine it is more than for their own brands.

The hotel did upgrade me nicely to one of their Deluxe Suites. The bellman accompanied me to my room and insisted on carrying my luggage. This was rather over the top, as I had only a small sports duffel and light backpack. But hey, it’s a 5-star hotel and they had a service standard to provide for their only guest.

Each floor at the Tomtom Suites has no more than 7 rooms. There were 6 on the third floor, which is where I stayed. The bellman gave me a little tour of the room in broken English and then went on his way. 

Deluxe Suite

While not a true suite with separate bedroom, a Deluxe Suite at the Tomtom Suites is very large and stylish. It’s definitely more understated than the Park Hyatt, but I really liked the room. The art and large windows in the old building brought some life to the space.

I usually spent time (sometimes too much) at the desk working at least a little bit while traveling, and I always appreciate a comfortable desk. While the chair and desk are comfortable, an outlet is difficult to access. The desk also had information on the hotel, the restaurant, and a cool Tomtom Suites postcard.

While not intended, the welcome letter offered a bit of irony that the hotel was delighted to “have me as their guest.” Yes. Their only guest. There were a couple other details provided on the facilities, including that breakfast would be available on the top floor terrace and the hotel restaurant Nicole was closed.

The bathroom was exceptionally nice. You have a large shower, deep tub, and double sink. Everything is in one large room. While I preferred my stay at the Tomtom Suites overall, the bathroom at the Park Hyatt definitely outshines this one.

The entryway contains the kettle, minibar, and snacks and Turkish wine for purchase. It always amazes me that luxury hotels in some parts of the world provide Nescafe. This first blew my mind when we were staying at the Hyatt Regency Palais de la Méditerranée in Nice, France. This was my first introduction to super nice Hyatt hotels, and I couldn’t believe instant coffee was acceptable. Then again, it is France, and the better choice is to grab an espresso at a café down the street.

I did enjoy the bottle of Turkish red wine during the evening. I’d never even heard of Öküzgözü, a grape varietal native to Turkey.

Although my room was a few floors up, there wasn’t much of a view due to the trees across the street. I can barely see the Sea of Marmara to the south. The view from the fop floor restaurant, however, is quite nice.

Overall, I really liked my room at the Tomtom Suites. It was spacious, well-appointed, and I slept quite well that night (at least compared to the previous two).

Breakfast at the Tomtom Suites Istanbul

The room key card holder had the breakfast hours printed on it. The front desk had not mentioned that the Tomtom Suites Istanbul hosts a tea time, but I would guess it is canceled during COVID-19. It would just be weird for them to provide it for one guest. Plus, I wouldn’t even be at the hotel during that time anyway.

Heading up to the top floor terrace just before 8:00 AM, I found it appropriately deserted. Well, except for the place setting. Was I to have a guest? Maybe they were about to surprise me.

The server appeared after a minute. He was pretty standoffish and didn’t speak English all that well. He said they had a Turkish breakfast for me, and I said that sounded fantastic. And, man, it was. Fruit, vegetables, chees, nuts, olives, smoked salmon, and an assortment of bread are far more than enough for one person for breakfast. It was a bummer I was flying solo this trip. 

The manager came up from the front desk during breakfast to see if I needed anything. Given the amazing breakfast spread, I was set. But this was an especially kind gesture. Gotta check on your only guest!

The top-floor restaurant does offer decent views of the Bosporus and old city. At the top of the hill in the distance are the Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia, both of which I visited the previous day. 

Hotel Amenities and Character

The Tomtom Suites isn’t all that big with just 20 rooms. I poked around on every floor, heading up and down the beautiful marble staircase.

Besides the lovely edifice and artwork, the Tomtom Suites offers a small library off to the side of the lobby for guests to enjoy. If I’d have had more time, it would have been nice to enjoy reading about this fascinating city as well as exploring it.

The hotel also offers small meeting facilities. There is no pool or exercise facilities. But walking the streets of Istanbul should provide all the exercise you need.

Excellent Location

The hotel location is one of the best features. The other World of Hyatt hotels are much further from the city center. You can certainly access the metro or take a taxi (which are cheap), but the Tomtom Suites location lets you easily access everything by foot. It’s a quick 2-minute walk up the hill to Istiklal Caddesi. This is a long pedestrian shopping street that stretches from Taksim Square all the way to the Galata Tower. 

If you head down the hill, you’ll be at the tram station in less than 5 minutes. Here you can catch the tram to take you to Sultanahmet and all the sights in the old city. If you want to stretch your legs, it’s maybe a 15-minute walk to Galata Bridge. This was the place that the guidebook suggested you start your visit of Istanbul, and it isn’t wrong. Enjoy getting your bearings at the Golden Horn for a bit and then head out to explore. 

Final Thoughts as the Only Guest at the Tomtom Suites Istanbul

From the friendly staff, to the comfortable accommodations, to the excellent breakfast spread, I really enjoyed my stay at the Tomtom Suites. It was a unique experience to be the only guest, and while at first I thought it might be creepy, it was actually an interesting twist to have the hotel to oneself. As a Category 4 World of Hyatt property, you can definitely get good value from your points or from your Category 1-4 free night certificates, like I did. I just suggest you stay more than one night at the Tomtom Suites Istanbul, unless you like to hotel hop like I do!

By: Family Flys Free
Title: Review: Tomtom Suites Istanbul – My Stay As The Only Guest!
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Published Date: Mon, 02 Nov 2020 15:08:08 +0000

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Gift Ideas to Buy for Hiking Fans on Black Friday




Days spent on hiking is beneficial to every individual involved. It boosts up metabolism, burns out calories, releases oxytocin, and strengthens the muscles while keeping our bodily functions alert sharpening our senses. Hiking is a delightful way to explore places with our loved ones, friends, and relatives, so if you know a hiker inside your closest circle, giving them quality presents that can be used for hiking can enhance their experiences.

Black Friday Outdoor Equipment Deals

Hiking and wilderness exploration can be an excellent dynamic activity open to everyone. For some of us, a common detriment that we encounter is the amount of gear and equipment to prepare and bring for each of our adventures. These things should ensure our safety and convenience while being able to function proportionate to our needs.

Every seasoned backpacker or trekking enthusiast may indulge in quality tools and equipment that can assist them with their undertakings. If you know a passionate hiker you can read this review of the north face jester backpack in case you are wondering what to give them as a gift this coming holiday. Remember that the gear you want to present to them is manufactured with rugged materials built to withstand the strains and difficulties of natural terrain and different atmospheric conditions.

Black Friday is one of our most awaited shopping days of the year since it gives us the opportunity to land affordable deals with items of interest. Several companies have already launched many discounts and sales three weeks early before the actual event happens. More enterprises and products are expected to follow this trend until the ultimate showcase of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

If you want to purchase gifts in the form of outdoor gear and equipment, some of them are already accessible for early acquisition. But it is recommended to wait for Black Friday to avail them at their most discounted price. Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a shopping experience you do not want to miss when choosing and buying the best equipment for your next hiking activity.

Top Black Friday Gifts for the Hiking Enthusiast

Every outdoor specialist or hiking enthusiast knows the value that every tool on their arsenal can bring them while on the trail. They know that the quality of each item is proportionate to the function with their primary purpose. Modern-day equipment is built with robust materials that perform in conjunction with each personal need during any hiking adventure.

Hiking Jacket

Any person that wants to go on a hike should be prepared with every possibility. Rain, snow, hail, sleet, are probabilities that come naturally with adverse atmospheric conditions. Having a reliable hiking jacket layered with quality waterproof and tear-resistant fabrics keeps you dry while regulating your sweat output and body temperature.

Hydration Flask

Modern fluid flasks come in various forms such as the camel bak that lets you sip water or the rugged hydro flask manufactured with industrial metals. One of the difficulties caused by strenuous activities such as mountain climbing, jogging, hiking, or PT is the onset of dehydration. Outdoor items such as flasks and hydrating-equipment are designed to accompany every adventurer while providing them enough fluids during their journey.

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are built with nylon, advanced composites, and durable yet lightweight fabrics. These shoes are designed to be waterproof while having a slip-resistant base that helps you grasp even the slimiest surfaces. They are also incorporated with enough padding and fits well with the contours of your feet that aids in preventing physical damages and discomfort while hiking or navigating rough terrain.

Campground Tents

In case your hiking ends up in a two or more day ordeal, having a convenient camping tent may provide you immediate shelter and a forward outpost. Camping tents are now capable of fitting in 8 people all at once built with reliable and flexible all-weather fabrics supported by modular poles for quick builds. These tents can be easily folded and stored in a carrying bag for travel convenience.


Hiking is an enjoyable activity that everyone can benefit from. It is great for exploring natural areas of the earth while providing enough exercise to burn out calories and excess fat stored while sitting in the office. If you know an outdoor enthusiast, then Black Friday can be a great opportunity to gather items valuable to their next adventure.

The post Gift Ideas to Buy for Hiking Fans on Black Friday appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Shahbaz Ahmed
Title: Gift Ideas to Buy for Hiking Fans on Black Friday
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Published Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2020 13:44:00 +0000

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6 Must-Have Essentials to Get Ready for a Fishing Trip




Fishing is a favorite pastime of many. Unfortunately, due to the current lockdown restrictions imposed upon us by our governments, we are unable to go fishing for the foreseeable future. With that said, however, we can still prepare for our next fishing trip, whenever that may be. Fishing is one of the most popular hobbies the world over, and for a good reason, for it is both relaxing and exhilarating [as any fisherman will attest to].

Now, whether you are a new fisherman or an experienced one, it is important that you prepare and have your kit full of equipment and essentials ready for when you can go fishing again.

This page will tell you what essentials you need to get ready for a fishing trip, for arriving at the lake and realizing that you have left some important equipment behind can be soul-destroying, or at the very least, can ruin the day.

Here are six must-have essentials to prepare for your fishing trip:


Bringing gloves along with you fishing is very important and not only for keeping your hands warm. Many are completely unaware that diseases like Weil’s Disease may lurk just below the water’s surface, and a tiny cut can allow it in.

Additionally, it is very easy when unhooking a fish to get the hook stuck in your skin, which then opens you up for infection. By investing in a pair of the best gloves for fishing that you can find [providing they are anti-hook gloves], you will prevent illness, disease, infection and ensure that you stay warm through long winter’s days on the water. Never neglect the importance of a pair of gloves when you are fishing, for they can make the difference massively.


Many fisheries do not allow for keepnets on their waters, so it is always good to research beforehand if they will be allowed on the one you are going to. Keepnets are large nets that can be left in the water, and they allow you to store your fish alive in them. Not every fisherman kills his fish, and many do catch and release. Even if you are a catch and release fisherman, you can still make use of a keepnet, for it will allow you to store the fish for photographs afterward. And, for fishermen who eat their catches, it allows you to keep them alive and fresh before killing them.

Unhooking Mat

Most fisheries throughout the world demand some form of unhooking mat or another. If you are fishing on private land, it is always good practice to bring one. An unhooking mat is a padded mat that you put the fish on to, as the name suggests, unhook it. Unhooking mats prevent the fish from becoming covered in mud and potentially hurting itself. Unhooking mats are a very humane way to unhook a fish, and it is always good to treat the fish respectfully by using these.

Barbless Hooks

Look, this is a bit of a point of contention. Some fishermen will swear by barbed hooks, others won’t. For the sake of being kind to animals, opt for barbless hooks. Barbed hooks can tear away at a fish’s cheek and can cause serious harm to them. When you are fishing, always have a pack of barbless hooks in your rucksack. While there is more of a chance that the fish may get away, to us, that makes it more exciting. For much larger fish like sturgeon and pike, admittedly, you may have to use barbed hooks, but avoid it if you can.

6 Must-Have Essentials to Get Ready for a Fishing Trip

Non-Conventional Bait

When going fishing, it’s fun to get creative. Rather than splurging on tackles and lures, why not invest in some non-conventional bait. Many carp, barbel, and trout fishermen swear by using Spam and sweetcorn, as well as bread, prawns, and capers. Getting creative with your bait can be a lot of fun, and it can save you a lot of money. While preparing, raid your cupboards for tinned snacks and load up your equipment bag. Non-conventional bait can be very exciting, and even if you just end up pulling out Breams and Chubs, you will still have a good day.


For long, rainy sessions, a bivvy is essential. We’ve all seen the so-called ‘experienced’ fishermen using these, so why not you? They provide shelter while fishing and ensure you can stay dry, warm, and even brew a pot of tea if you should want to.

With the help of this page, you now know six essential pieces of equipment to bring with you on your next fishing trip. Fishing is a great hobby that is a lot of fun, and one that many, unfortunately, cannot do at the moment. But with time, all things pass. Before you know it, you will be back out on the water.

The post 6 Must-Have Essentials to Get Ready for a Fishing Trip appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Marina Villatoro
Title: 6 Must-Have Essentials to Get Ready for a Fishing Trip
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Published Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2020 03:13:22 +0000

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4 Romantic Things To Do In Seattle




Known as one of the most stunningly beautiful and stylish cities in America, Seattle is also the perfect destination for couples looking for a romantic getaway. Revelling in the boundless nature based activities with your sweetheart or touring the art scene around the city are wonderful ways to spend a romantic day.

Romance is sure to bloom if you and your sweetheart are enthusiasts of natural beauty. Seattle has everything from statuesque mountains, rugged shorelines and wandering forests to explore. You can sail out from Emerald Landing and explore Puget Sound searching for a pod of whales and enjoy a life changing experience together.

Seattle also has a variety of fun and sophisticated indoor activities for couples to enjoy. From first class dining on local cuisine to thrilling entertainment and art installations, there are plenty of places to take a romantic stroll with your partner. Let’s take a look at a few of the ultimate romantic destinations that truly makes Seattle a paradise for lovers.

The Most Romantic Things To Do In Seattle

Bainbridge Island Ferry

After a short cruise where you and your sweetheart can enjoy unparalleled views of the Seattle skyline you will arrive at the beautiful and charming island of Bainbridge. A visit to the island is like taking two steps back in time. Bainbridge island’s quaint downtown area is filled with shops and restaurants to keep you busy all day. On your ferry ride back to the city you can enjoy a romantic sunset view as the light slips away over Mount Rainier.

Gas Works Park

Nestled at the northern end of Lake Union sits one of the most unique parks in Seattle. This one-time industrial area was converted in 1975 to a family-friendly recreational area that has something for everyone. Enjoy a sun-filled day by the water, walk along the promenade, and enjoy a romantic picnic at the top of the park hill that gives one of the best views in Seattle. Gas Works Park is host to many festivals and celebrations throughout the year and visitors can enjoy outdoor entertainment and catering at a few parkside restaurants and cafes.

Paramount Theatre

Allow you and your partner to be transported back into the last century with a trip to the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. This historical entertainment venue has been expertly restored to reflect the style and opulence of the 19th century. Enjoy big name concert entertainment or settle in for a worldwide sensational stage play like Hamilton which debuts in 2020. Sweep your sweetheart out for a night at the theatre and then enjoy one of the area’s many excellent restaurants after the show.

Golden Gardens

This popular park located along the shores of Puget Sound has something to keep romance seekers busy all day. You can ride bikes along the boardwalk, lay out the perfect romantic picnic lunch, visit the exoctic array of gardens through the area and enjoy the stunning views of the shoreline. Settle on the beach for the day and watch the kayakers and volleyballers or enjoy some fishing from the dock.

Whether you enjoy indoor or outdoor activities, Seattle has much to offer couples that are looking for a romantic getaway. You can explore an unlimited amount of nature activities or spend your day together enjoying the sophisticated Seattle art scene. Whatever your taste, Seattle is a great place to fall in love all over again.

The post 4 Romantic Things To Do In Seattle appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Marina Villatoro
Title: 4 Romantic Things To Do In Seattle
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Published Date: Sun, 15 Nov 2020 00:25:03 +0000

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