Created from the restored ruins of an ancient village, carved deep into a cliff face years ago, the Museum Hotel is a real one-off. It overlooks a breathtaking landscape of rose-coloured ravines, dramatic rock formations and the distant volcanic cone of Mount Erciyes. The stone structure dates back thousands of years, previously home to Hittites, Persians and early Christian Romans who lived in the caves that now offer high-end accommodation.
Located in the in Central Anatolia in Turkey, a region known for its moon-like landscapes and underground cities, the Museum Hotel sits below the grand Uçhisar castle, the highest geographical point in Cappadocia, which is one of Turkey’s world heritage sites. The Museum Hotel was the first luxury hotel established in the area after owner Ömer Tosun commenced an extensive restoration program 20 years ago that involved the dedicated restoration of thousand-year-old ruins (10 dwellings and 60 caves in total). The entire hotel was constructed by hand using the finest authentic materials and brought back to its original state. This is by no means your typical hotel stay, so be prepared for the experience of a lifetime.
The hotel boasts 30 rooms and suites, former carved rock households which were selected and transformed into the luxury guestrooms of nowadays. Hotel name aptly reflects what awaits visitors above the threshold of each room. Former interior, remembering all the generations of inhabitants adapted their difficulty, overflowing their hopes, now they serve guests with their warm and cozy atmosphere. Although today provide all the comfort, they retained the original layout and furniture and decor are located on the former places. Staying here is an encounter with the spirit of the rich history and magic still undiscovered in this land.
Guests can experience a unique living in a museum experience with a number of historical items and antiquities on display throughout the caves including relics from the 16th century. The owner is an antique collector, whose impressive collection of tapestries, furniture, robes and objets d’art from Roman and Ottoman times decorates the hotel’s maze of walkways and its 30 lavish rooms, hence the name. No room is alike, with each bringing its own special ambiance, contributing to Museum Hotel’s evident character and charm. All are stunning, with vaulted ceilings, silk furnishings, mosaics and marble bathrooms with jacuzzi tubs. The Sultan’s Cave, one of the most unique rooms in Cappadocia, is a two-cave space only accessible via a private tunnel, with one vaulted stone room, a private wine cellar and two bathrooms. Surely, for history buffs who like the five-star treatment, it’s the ultimate holiday.
Lil’a is the Museum Hotel’s gourmet à la carte restaurant offering guests the finest examples of Turkish and regional cuisine. The dining room is sophisticated in decor and offers a fantastic view. The hotel produces organic vegetables and fruits in its ecological garden for use at Lil’a. With its award-winning and rare Turkish cuisine made with the finest ingredients and produce from its own organic garden, Lil’a promises an unforgettable, world-class gastronomic experience.
A stay at Museum Hotel means to laze on the flower-filled terraces or pamper yourself with a spa treatment in the privacy of your cave or, during the summer, on the massage terrace with a dramatic view of the Cappadocian landscape or even indulge you in a swim in the beautiful infinity pool and admire the panoramic views of Göreme, Red Valley and Pigeon Valley. Last but not least, men can have a daily shave from the barber’s chair with the world’s most beautiful view. Because Turkish barbers are renowned for their skill and precision, employing traditional techniques like singeing stray ear hairs. Every morning on the terrace, you can watch one in action or better yet, male guests can take own turn in the barber’s chair. They can enjoy a haircut or meticulous shave against the setting of a golden sunrise and balloon-filled sky.
If the water feature, flowers and view have relaxed you enough that you’re ready to venture further, the Museum Hotel offers many tours. The standout ones are the morning walking tour with Tosun and the vineyard tour in the valley (Cappadocia is known for its great wines). You can play in cross golf (variety of golf played, in order to protect the environment, the natural terrain) in the only place UNESCO Heritage Site, due to the natural, in which sightseeing balloon flights are permitted as well as horseback riding, morning hikes, admiring the Whirling Dervishes, Turkish culinary arts lessons, just to name a few.
There are hotels that are nothing more than a place to rest your head at night. And then there are hotels like the Museum Hotel, magical properties that leave an imprint on your memory, raise your standards for what good hospitality means and add something truly invaluable to your travel experience.
The hotel is located in Üçhisar village in the heart of Cappadocia, approximately 800 km from Istanbul, 80 km from Kayseri Airport and 40 km from the airport Nevsehir. The Museum Hotel is less than 4 km from central Göreme and being in the the middle of rocky land, Cappadocia, this unusual hotel gives its guests the opportunity to enjoy sunrises and sunsets coloring unearthly, almost unreal landscape. Tourists visiting Cappadocia have never experienced her magic in this way.
Hot Balloon in the Morning
Ensure you wake up early one morning to watch approximately 100 hot-air balloons fly by and, if you’re lucky with the winds, very close to the hotel. To experience the magic first-hand, book your own hot-air balloon experience in advance (try to get one with fewer people in the basket, 14-16 so that you are comfortable). This will be one of the greatest experiences you will have in your life. Not to be missed.
Playing Cross Golf
‘Cross Golf,’ a special Museum Hotel activity, is a unique version of the game played in an entirely natural environment. As in normal golf, the objective is to complete the course in the fewest strokes. But in this unique form of the game, you get to putt in hidden Cappadocia valleys into nets, thus fully protecting the environment. Each year, guests are able to take part in the annual Cross Golf Swing in the Valley Tournament. This is the only type of golf played on a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Value for Money
Double rooms are from just Euro 293,00 in low season; and from Euro 324,00 in high. These rates are per room and per day and include breakfast and free Wi-Fi. Rates are subject to change without prior notice.
Access for guests with disabilities?
As it is a cave hotel, their guests have to use so many steps to reach the rooms or general areas such as pool, restaurant, etc. So, this property is not accessible for disabilities.
It is a family friendly hotel. Also, they have interconnecting room options. However, any child under 12 years old is not accepted due to their child policy.
Museum Hotel strives to provide guests with the most delicious and natural appetizers and meals. The hotel has an ecological garden within walking distance from the main site, situated in the shadows of the fairy chimneys. During your stay, spend some time in the garden and taste its fruits and vegetables. Pick some to be served for your lunch or dinner. If you’re having a cookery lesson with them, pick a number of ingredients from the garden alongside their chef. Not only does Museum Hotel feature this unique garden, the hotel also owns the 200-acre “Indigo Responsible Farming” site. As a part of their brand, the farm produces the best examples of ecological products under the ‘Good Farming Practice Code.’ From apples to almonds, strawberries to walnuts…there is a wide variety of produce on the land. A good part of the land is devoted to horticulture, the production of grapes, which are used in the production of the hotel’s wines. They also produce their own 100% organic honey as well as having free-range chickens whose fresh eggs are served at breakfast to the guests.
Our Special Readings
Cappadocia: why not?!?
The curtain rises in the first light of dawn against the backdrop of Cappadocia, giving unexpected suggestions. You are never completely ready for the emotions that the “land of beautiful horses” (its name in ancient Persian language) conveys when the sky takes on the tones of orange, red and then, slowly the heavenly and five hundred hot air balloons, they look like confetti scattered in the infinite streets of the horizon. In this region of Turkey, between Asia Minor and Mesopotamia, along the Silk Road, history has written important pages telling of bloody invasions and the prestige of a mythical trade route. The influence of the most ancient civilizations has forged its character and traditions, starting from the Assyrians and passing by the Hittites, the Persian, Hellenistic and Byzantine Empire and today revives in architecture, food and wine and the smile of the locals. There is no identical place all over the world, in a triumph of natural wonders that go beyond the imagination and conquer the hearts of anyone who has the good fortune to put feet and eyes on it.
The hand of man, in this part of the world, has added beauty to the creative perfection of a nature that here has worked hard to forge weird forms, aided by wind, rain, ice and millennia. Its landscapes give a true world tour in a few hours, showing deep canyons, caves and pyramids with a sort of hat called “fairy chimneys”. Millions of years ago the surrounding mountains of Erciyes, Hasandag and Gulludag were active volcanoes, reproduced in the prehistoric paintings found between the valleys and from here the magic began. And then there is the Goreme National Park with its multicolored rocks, the result of high concentrations of iron oxides (and not only) and the rock sites. All wonders that, since 1985, UNESCO has included among its assets.
For the early Christians, Cappadocia was a true sanctuary, so much so that today it remains an open-air museum where natural and cultural elements create an incomparable mix. The volcanic deposits have made the area fertile for agriculture and, even now, grapes are grown but also apricots, cherries, cereals and sugar beets.
3 reasons why to visit immediately the Cappadocia
It has been a beloved place by Europeans; in the golden years it grinded lots of tourists coming from different areas of the old continent that, thanks to the first organized tours, arrived in this corner of land as fascinating as it was unusual. My guide, in fact, asks me where we are Europeans and even more Italians, why do not we go to Turkey? And honestly he’s right considering that in my minibus, apart from me, was full of Argentineans, Malaysians, few French and no more.
Hard to explain. Why do not we go to Turkey anymore? Because, I think, we perceive it as insecure. Is it really? From my recent experience, I was there at the end of September, no it is not definitely. It is not in the immense metropolis of Istanbul and it is not even in the small town of Uchisar, my base for exploring Cappadocia. With this premise, here are my three reasons why you should depart immediately for Cappadocia.
Reason #1 – It’s a unique place
There are many rocky areas shaped by wind, air and water in the world, but the fairy chimneys, with its characteristic mushroom shape, can only be seen here. The originals are in Cappadocia, all the rest are just fakes.
Exploring the beauties of Asia Minor
Separated from European Turkey by the straits of Bosphorus and Dardanelles, Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor, is a peninsula surrounded by four seas: the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the Aegean, and the lovely Sea of Marmara, which literally splits up the country in two worlds apart. Asiatic Turkey comprises the rugged Black Sea coast with its steep mountains (Pontic Alps), crystalline rivers, and evergreen forests; the historical Marmara Region where lie Istanbul and the legendary Plains of Troy; the sparkling Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, where Turkey’s most famous summer spots are located, including Izmir and Antalya; the Central Anatolian Region, home of Ankara and the stunning Cappadocia; Eastern Anatolia, the highest part of Turkey; and the Southeastern Anatolia Region, neighboring Syria and Iraq.
By now you’ve probably seen incredible photos of colourful hot air balloons soaring above a rocky, desert type landscape and although you might not know exactly where in the world these were taken, you’ve added it to your bucket list. Well I’m here to tell you where to see these balloons, how to get there, where to stay and 2 ways to get those picture perfect Instagram shots!
What to know
The most famous name and the name you may have heard of before is Cappadocia. However Göreme is the name of the main tourist town. Cappadocia is pretty much in the middle of Turkey, a Country that a lot of people visit for its coastline and the City of Istanbul. Turkey has more recently received some bad press, but rest assured that the majority of time it is safe to visit and if there’s any commotion its unfortunately, usually in the capital of Ankara which is 300 km away from Cappadocia (nearly the same distance as London to Paris).
Turkey is a big country too, in fact its the 37th largest country in the world so a degree of planning is required to get you to this fairytale place. The best option is to fly there and conveniently there are 2 airports that serve Cappadocia-Kayseri Airport (ASR) and Nevsehir Airport (NAV), however Kayseri is an hours drive away from Göreme, whereas Nevsehir is only 30 minutes away so bare this in mind when booking.
Special City Guide: Göreme
With so many other charming and more characteristic villages in Cappadocia, it’s a wonder that Göreme’s popularity never wanes. Its name recognition has been high among backpackers, a state of affairs that led to a profusion of charmless, dormitory-style pensions and fly-by-night bars catering to a coed crowd. As travelers to the region increase, young ambitious entrepreneurs are stepping up to the plate with better-endowed pensions and outright luxury hotels. For the most part, however, the presence of “modern,” albeit low-rise, concrete slabs detracts from the magic of the horizon.
The main appeal of Göreme, besides the Open Air Museum located on its fringes, is the village’s proximity to some of the most scenic valley walks. Inconspicuous early churches dot the landscape between the town and the Open Air Museum, popping up unexpectedly at the edge of a lonely corner of a valley. In Göreme itself, one of the few villages in which the rock homes and fairy chimneys have been continually inhabited, the attractions share the spotlight with the daily lives of the locals. Gentrification has yet to push out its natives and, with it, the authenticity of the village. In Göreme it’s still common to run into a donkey delivery, or stumble upon a devout gaggle of chatty women and chickens, while staying fairly accessible to food, transportation, and Internet cafes.
The road from the Open Air Museum leads right to the center of town over a dry creek bed; turn left onto Uzundere Caddesi until you get to the otogar. Everything you need is located here or just behind the station, including tour operators, car and scooter rentals, taxis and the tourist information office. The bazaar is located behind the otogar around the mosque and Roman tower. Adnan Menderes Caddesi forks off from Uzundere Caddesi closer to the turnoff from the museum; Kapadokya Balloons is on the right and the Orient Restaurant is on the left.