Have You Ever Been the Only Hotel Guest?
I’ve been in Istanbul this week, enjoying a solo trip abroad for a few days. It was a thrill to finally leave the country for the first time in months. Turkey has been open to international travelers for a while. However, this doesn’t mean everyone is flocking to visit. In fact, tourism still isn’t great. This was perfectly illustrated by one of my three nights here, where I was the *only* guest at one hotel.
Hyatt Hotel Hopping in Istanbul
As the largest city in Turkey by a long shot, Istanbul has many international chain hotel options. Even limiting myself as a Hyatt loyalist, I had choices. Istanbul boasts a Park Hyatt, a Grand Hyatt, and an Unbound Collection property, plues a few Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties.
It would have been easy to pick one hotel, book my three-night stay, and call it good. But I like to experience new properties, so I decided to hotel hop each night. I settled on one night at the Nish Palas (Unbound Collection, Category 2), one at the Park Hyatt (Category 4), and one at the Tomtom Suites, a 5-star SLH property (Category 4).
My night at the Park Hyatt was a bit eerie. One of the front desk staff was great, making me feel welcomed. But overall, the hotel felt deserted. I walked into the lobby fairly late after my day out, and there was literally nobody around aside from the doorman outside. No guests. No staff. It felt super weird. I did see a couple other guests at breakfast, so at least someone else was staying there.
But things would get even weirder at the next hotel
I made my morning switch to the Tomtom Suites, hoping to check in, drop my stuff in the room, and head out for the day. It was going to be long one, as I had a Bosporus boat tour and experiencing a hammam on the itinerary.
When I arrived, the man at the front desk greeted me warmly. Looking down at a paper, he said, “you must be…Mr. Snyder?”
Now, the Tomtom Suites is a boutique hotel, with only 20 rooms. But I was still surprised he was able to know exactly who I was.
Everything became clear a few minutes later: I was their only guest. There was literally no one in the hotel when I arrived, nor did they have any bookings for the following night.
I very literally had the hotel to myself. Creepy? Maybe a little. But also hysterical.
The porter accompanied me to my room, one of the Tomtom premium suites, and gave me a little tour. He barely speaks English, but he did show me around literally the entire room. Yes, I know that’s the bathroom. Yes, I see the minibar. He also insisted on carrying both my small duffel and backpack.
Having the hotel to yourself comes with perks, though. The front desk mentioned that I could either eat breakfast upstairs in the restaurant or in my room. Completely up to me. Since I was the only guest, room service was no problem.
The staffing was total overkill. There was the friendly front desk staff, the porter, and the manager who I noticed momentarily in the back. In the morning, there was another young man who prepared breakfast. And it was an amazing private rooftop terrace breakfast.
But seriously. Four different people. For one guest. I started to feel bad that I was using a Hyatt free night for the stay.
Being the Only Hotel Guest: Good or Bad?
Overall, I had a great stay at the Tomtom Suites. It was weird being the only person in the hotel, but it was also a funny experience. The awkwardness of the staff was apparent at times, as they obviously had too little to do.
The Tomtom Suites never closed during the pandemic, but they had zero bookings for weeks at a time from mid-March into June. I cannot imagine how much this had to cost the hotel, and I’m surprised they didn’t close up for a while.
Apparently things have been a little better on weekends. The front desk staff told me they had about 50 guests a few days prior.
But they had only me midweek. Now I can say I’ve had an entire hotel to myself, even if it is a small one for one night.