Trading a Free Hotel Room for Turkish Airlines' Istanbul Lounge

While not a widely published benefit, Turkish Airlines offers extended transit passengers in Istanbul the choice of a free hotel room or free tour of Istanbul during their wait. In order to take advantage of this, you must be connecting from a Turkish to a Turkish flight and the layover for business class passengers must be at least seven hours and at least ten hours for economy class passengers. If you qualify, simply go through passport control at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, walk out and to the right to the Turkish Airlines hotel counter, and a representative will be happy to arrange your hotel room or a tour for you.

I arrived tonight at 22:20 from FRA and my flight to LAX is not till tomorrow at 11:15. But I did not take advantage of the free offer. Why not?

As Damian shared and I will highlight further in an upcoming post, Turkish Airlines has a spectacular lounge in Istanbul for business class and Star Alliance Gold passengers. This enormous lounge is so good (with sleeping rooms, cook-to-order food, and never a dearth of seating), that I would rather spend my time here than in a hotel room that might lack an internet connection (yes, work keeps me busy...).

Although Turkish indicates online that the lounge is closed from 0100-0500, it is actually open 24 hours--the food just disappears overnight. With fast Wi-Fi internet (which used to be a problem in the lounge but Turkish has now addressed), I'd rather spend the night working and napping in here then taking the time to go through additional security checks, stamp in and out of the country, and have to wait for a hotel shuttle. I am quite comfortable now on my soft-leather beige couch. In fact, if it were not for a couple of drunk guys playing billiards nearby (yes, the lounge has a pool table and an unmanned supply of top-shelf liquor), I'd be ready for a good night's sleep.

In all seriousness, while TK's hotel benefit is nice, the lounge is not a bad place to spend a night and less of a hassle, in my mind, than the alternative (and the drunk guys have quieted down now...).


D December 14, 2011 at 08:43 pm

To clarify, re: the layover and qualifying for any complimentary land side services. It must be on a TK inbound AND outbound flight.

Jerry December 14, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Add that some (Canadians) need to pay $60 for visa for entry, even for a hotel nap.

Doing YYZ-IST (8 hr layover)-ICN in August and will be interesting to find a relaxation room

@D: Correct. Thanks.

@Jerry: Indeed.

William December 15, 2011 at 12:48 am

I would have loved to have visited that lounge. I had an 11-hour layover last May but the lounge was closed for renovations. Do you have any pictures?

@William: I have some amazing pictures that I will post in the coming days--I've been here four times in the last couple months and absolutely love this lounge. For now, though, check out Damian's pictures:

RDimperio December 15, 2011 at 09:09 am

I took advantage of the local tour earlier in the year and upon returning to the airport was offered a room at the secure side of the airport. Grabbed 4 hours there before heading to the oursourced First Class lounge.

Glad to hear it is open 24H as I have a 5 am departure on LH in January. This will work well for me. Now if only I can figure a cost effective way to get from Rome to FCO for a 6:00 am departure the morning before.

Carl December 18, 2011 at 04:51 pm

I agree with Matthew, the TK lounge in IST is one of the best in the world. Tons of seating of different types, lots and lots of food choices, including made to order omelettes in the mornings and various dishes in the lunch and dinner hours, always lentil soups, baklava, olives, lots and lots of choices, showers, sleeping rooms, billiards, a player piano. It seems like the bathroom attendant cleans the stalls after each use.

I don't know if I'd pass up bed if I were connecting overnight, but otherwise I think it's one of the best lounges in the world, and certainly exceeds the lounges I can access as *G in places like FRA or BKK.

Marc A April 30, 2013 at 09:39 am

If I am only at a Silver Level on the Star Alliance, instead of Gold, will they let me trade my free hotel night for entrance to the lounge?

Oliver Kellman June 30, 2014 at 01:30 pm

Hi - Do you know if the Business lounge option is available if you are flying Economy?

@Oliver: It is not and I don't believe they sell day passes. Even with the recent expansion, the lounge is still very crowded.

zoya November 3, 2014 at 06:17 pm

dear i would like to know that if the room and city tour options are avaliable free of cost and to economy class as well. are need to pay and book earlier?

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