I’m hit by searing heat the moment I step out of the air-conditioned mini bus onto a busy strip of shops and bars, and immediately clock a McDonald’s – at first glance, Antalya could be almost any European tourist hotspot. Yet, metres down the same road, I’m met by the imposing structure of Hadrian’s Gate (built by the Roman Emperor of British wall fame).
Tucked directly behind Hadrian’s well-preserved relic is Antalya’s Old Town, Kaleiçi, yet another world apart from the street I arrived on, only moments ago. I could be in an ancient, Middle-Eastern bazaar; the narrow streets are free from cars and lined with shops selling rugs and leather goods. After a short walk I arrive at the Alp Pasa hotel, where the eastern theme continues.
The main building has the feel of a grandiose villa, overlooking a small but welcoming pool set in the middle of its terracotta-tiled courtyard. The pool would probably feel more at home in a Turkish hammam, and while you certainly won’t be setting any Olympic swimming records in it, it’s a top spot for sun-worshippers, who laze around here from breakfast until the sun sets.
More bedrooms are located around a small courtyard in the second building. Much like the surroundings, the rooms vary in style. Some have four-poster beds, balconies and traditional Ottoman décor, while others have a modern, minimalist apartment feel. The standard of the rooms is consistently high, but, rather confusingly, so is the height of the bathtubs. Even as a relatively tall person, I almost have to pole-vault into mine. Still, this is only a minor gripe. Once in, I was treated to a shower accompanied by a Turkish disco, courtesy of the built-in sound system (a nod to Kaleiç’s variety of bustling nightlife).
Not far from the hotel, close to the harbour, guests will find the small, but popular, Mermerli beach. The hotel’s website describes this as private, but be aware, this does not mean that the beach is privately owned by the hotel – rather that the beach is not public and can be accessed for a small fee (12 Turkish Lira). History lovers will also find museums, a wealth of ancient architecture and ruins to explore in the wider region, as well as some impressive geographical features.
Eating and Drinking
For reasons I couldn’t fathom, as well as a mini-bar, bedrooms come with the odd plastic plate and a microwave, despite us being instructed by the hotel that we are not to bring our own food into the hotel rooms (you hope they’re not concerned that room service might arrive in need of reheating). But if breakfast is anything to go by, the menu should not disappoint. The hotel serves a buffet breakfast with a Turkish twist – cereals are accompanied with delicious Turkish honey, cooked breakfasts include menemen (scrambled eggs with peppers and tomatoes) and instead of crepes you’ll find borek (a savoury pastry cooked and filled with vegetables, meat or cheese). There are also plenty of places to eat and drink close to the hotel in the Old Town and further afield within the city. Mezes in most restaurants are fairly similar, and include breads, humus, patlicann salatasi (baked and pureed aubergine or eggplant as it will be referred to, here), kofte (meatballs), kalamar (Calamari), dolma (stuffed vine leaves) and salads. Club ARMA Restaurant in Kaleiçi Harbor serves good seafood and has great views of the city’s coastline. For traditional Turkish fare, try Kulakcilar Uc Yildiz Restaurant (Fabrikalar mah. Fikri Erten Cad. Özdilekpark AVM Kat: 2 No: 245 Kepez,) and kebab-lovers won’t go far wrong with Cati Ocakbasi Grill.
Address: Alp Pasa Hotel, Barbaros Mh. Hesapci SK. 30 Kaleiçi (Old Town) Antalya, Turkey, www.alppasa.com, +90 242 247 5676,
Radio Times Travel rating: 8/10 A charming location with plenty to see, the Alp Pasa is an ideal place to experience Turkey’s Eastern influences.
Radio Times stayed at the Alp Pasa as a guest of the Turkish Culture and Information Office.