As poor travel editors our budget usually buys us a night in a charmless room in a central part of town but recently we took advantage of our website and traded some of our advertising space to stay in accommodation that were worth enjoying in their own right.
The Cappadocia region of Turkey offers an array of hotel options where competition drives hoteliers to compete on style, uniqueness and ambience rather than on price alone. We took the opportunity to compare three different cave hotels in the region, one in Avanos and two in Goreme.
Fortunately, the landscape of Cappadocia provided a strong enough pull to get us outdoors or else it would have been tempting to remain inside and just savour the experience of living in our caves.
The least ‘cavey’ of the three places we stayed in, Kirkit Pension presents itself in stone with wood trimmings around a central courtyard. Quality and elegance were evident in the furnishing of our room, the comfort of the bed and even in the wooden door and solid feel of the stone walls. Kirkit was the first of many hotels in Turkey where we didn’t want to leave.
In our wifi enabled room, only the bathroom, with its spacious shower cubicle, was a cave but the communal breakfast area, where live music is played later in the evening, is also sited underground in a small cavern.
Particularly popular with French tourists – many of whom were making a returning visit – the overall atmosphere was one of simple style, friendly efficiency and an ethos that seemed to put guests before all other considerations. It came as no surprise when we learned the French, English and German speaking family owners also operate one of Turkey’s largest travel agencies.
Why stay here?
The most stylish of the three hotels we stayed in, Kirkit Pension is located in Avanos. A small town, Avanos still retains the feel of a real Turkish town that has a way to go yet before it devotes all its energies to the tourism industry.
Fairy Chimney Inn
Scooped straight from the soft rock, our room in the Fairy Chimney Inn was the most fun of the three hotels we stayed in, had the best view and just put a smile on my face. The Fairy Chimney is the sort of place a ten year old boy would chose to stay if he was put in charge of the family’s holiday plans. Though as a man of advancing years with responsibilities to his readership I also appreciated the generally reliable in-cave wifi connection and a table to work at.
Formerly the office of the owner (here’s Michael Palin in our room), the room we stayed in generally isn’t let out to guests and was the most cave like and roughly excavated of the trio. The bathroom was small and reached down a narrow stairway leading on to a second entrance/exit. An anthropologist occasionally passed through our bathroom thoughtfully whistling for the sake of our privacy as he made his way to work further up the chimney. This unusual arrangement was made clear to us before we took the room and, though inconvenient at times, in some ways added to the experience.
A great deal of thought has been put into the conversion of a 1500 year old Byzantine monastery into a hotel and some rooms display unique touches such as a hamam style bathroom.
Why stay here?
A great view and great fun. I couldn’t have felt more like a kid had a toy train set been circling around the walls. In one of the other rooms, there probably was.
Holiday Cave Hotel
The largest of the three hotels, Holiday Cave Hotel (formerly Flintstones Cave Hotel) has more of an independent travellers resort vibe while remaining an attractive option for couples and families. When we were there the pool was unfilled and the weather rarely merited a change in the status quo but guests will undoubtedly appreciate a swim when the summer heat kicks in.
Our en suite room was sparse and consisted of a spotless white quilt covered bed. Wooden stairs leading up to a couple of single beds in a low soft wood ceilinged area open to the rest of the room. I took advantage of these to watch DVDs late at night before banging my head and going downstairs to bed. Other rooms had more furniture and Jacuzzi bathrooms.
Breakfast was particularly well organised with a great deal of choice and I could check email in the same wifi enabled restaurant area. Back in our room our laptop lead wouldn’t reach the electrical socket but manager Mehmet went out and bought an extension lead so I could get some work done on a rainy day.
Why stay here?
A short walk to Goreme town centre, the Holiday Cave offers helpful service and a cooling swim to a younger more backpacker orientated crowd.