Budget lodgings in Turkey

By Neil Van Steenbergen
This item appears on page 35 of the February 2014 issue.

This is in response to the request for lodging information from those of us who travel “on a shoestring.”

I traveled independently in Turkey in May of 2012. I left my wheeled suitcase at the Coşkun Pension in Istanbul and traveled for three weeks with only a backpack.

The transportation was delightfully simple. I took dolmuses (minibuses) for cheap regional travel, two 5-hour coach rides and two in-country flights on Turkish Airlines.

I was 85 when I took this trip, and I used my cane. I use it only when I travel. I had no mobility problems and did tons of walking, some on very uneven ground.

The Lonely Planet guidebook was my source of information. I’d have a hard time traveling without it.

The guest houses and pensions I used were the best and inexpensive. Some were a couple of blocks from busy city centers and some were in quiet neighborhoods. They were not crowded, and there were interesting international travelers staying there (usually younger and not American). Managers and owners welcomed me and gave me suggestions for things to do, providing directions as well.

Coşkun Pension (Soguk Cesme Sokak 40, Sultanahmet, ISTANBUL, Turkey; phone 0212 526 9854) — a perfect place, located in Old Istanbul on a delightful, one-block-long street with friendly neighbors and places to eat. Two blocks from the Topkapi Palace and, in the other direction, two blocks from Ayasofia.

Steep stairs and small rooms. Single with bath, about $28, cash only. Clean rooftop terrace.

• In a market town that is home to the Acropolis, the Red Basilica and the Asclepion of Pergamum, I stayed at the Gobi Pension (Zafer Mah, Atatürk Bul. No.18, BERGAMA, Turkey; phone +90 232 633 2518)

The dolmus driver went out of his way to deliver me to the door. The woman welcoming me did not speak English, so her father rode over on his bike and helped me organize my stay. Single with bath and breakfast, about $20, cash only. Rooftop restaurant. Delightful.

• Within Selçuk, easy travel distance from Ephesus, the Artemis Tower, the Basilica of St. John and Mary’s House, is the Australia New Zealand Guest House, or ANZUS (Ataturk Mahallesi 1064 Sokak No. 12, 35900 SELÇUK, Turkey; phone +90 [0] 232 892 6050 or fax 892 1594). A single with bath and breakfast cost $20, cash. 

Walk about two blocks down the street to Ali Baba’s carpet shop and take a free 9 a.m. shuttle to Ephesus. Ali Baba, who was wearing an Oregon Peaks T-shirt, is a friend of Harry, who runs ANZUS. 

Sabah Pansiyon (Kaleici Kilincaslan Mh. Hesapci Sok. No:60 07100 ANTALYA, Turkey; phone + 90 555 365 83 76 or + 90 242 247 53 45 or fax 247 53 47) — in Old Town, three blocks from an overview of the Mediterranean Sea with Roman fort ruins and a Swiss ice cream place.

The absolute best place I stayed! A single with bath and breakfast cost about $28 on a credit card. I had a cough when I arrived, so someone went out on a motorbike and got me cough drops. 

Has an attached Yemenli restaurant; try the macaroni-and-honey-yogurt main dish. Hadrian’s Gate, next to a Burger King, was close. Also, it was an easy walk to a superb Turkish bath. 

Talk with the 90-year-old American Arthur, a former New York Times foreign correspondent who lived in Afghanistan before the Russians arrived. He lives at the Sabah.


Eugene, OR

Attention, “shoestring travelers,” tell us about an accommodation you used on a recent trip outside the US.