The stylish, comfortable Empress Zoe has the quirky, handcrafted intimacy you'd expect from a hotel that stitches together four neighboring town houses to make 25 rooms with embroidered Turkish canopies over the beds, wildly colorful murals, spiral staircases, and odd Ottoman touches like pointed archways sprinkled throughout. Some rooms open onto a private garden, others overlook the romantically overgrown ruins of the city's oldest hammam, its crumbling domes now sprouting wildflowers. From the roof terrace you can glimpse the Marmara Sea past minarets.
Doubles from $175; rates include an exceptional Turkish breakfast.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.