Cappadocia is famous for the general strangeness of its landscape, most especially the unique vertical rock formations known as “fairy chimneys.” But in our offices, this region in Turkey is equally famous for what’s below ground level, and it’s one of the most delicious two-word phrases in the language: cave hotels.
Our tastes tend to change as we get older. But if we’re honest with ourselves, every one of us has dreamt of living in a cave. And there’s a place where your grown-up luxury-hotel-loving self can get back in touch with your swashbuckling, adventuring, cave-dwelling inner child. Cappadocia is a wonderland of dramatic landscapes, and lucky for us, the local hoteliers decided to build their hotels right into them.
To learn more about how these exciting properties were excavated, read our story about the construction of Cappadocia’s cave hotels. To see the finest examples the region has to offer, read below.
The Museum Hotel’s rooms are a monument to the region’s ancient cave dwellings, each one a restored, hyper-luxe version of Cappadocia’s original cave houses. And if you’re into antiques, this is your place. The owner’s vast collection — museum-certified tapestries, furniture, and other objets d’art from the Romans and Ottomans, among others — decorates the hotel, including the award-winning restaurant, which specializes in both classic and modern takes on the regional cuisine.
Once a monastery in the village of Uçhisar, now a boutique hotel, Argos in Cappadocia is where you go to escape from the modern world. The rooms themselves pack in as much contemporary comfort as a cave can reasonably handle; today’s luxury guests need not fear a total return to the Stone Age. Some have terraces, others private in-cave pools, and they manage to make subterranean living feel like the most natural thing in the world.
It’s a concept we first saw in Italy, but it’s no less compelling in Turkey: not just a building but an entire village, abandoned by its residents during hard times in the 20th century, rehabilitated and restored by an adventurous developer into a hotel that blends the best of the ancient and modern worlds. Taskonaklar takes the village of Uçhisar as its raw material and transforms it into the kind of immersive experience that stand-alone hotels can only dream about.
The mansion now known as Sacred House is two and a half centuries old, and was for a time a Christian church. Inside are just ten rooms, each one unique, all of them in a style that it’s not entirely unfair to call “maximalist.” And though it was restored from near-ruin by its present owners, Sacred House feels authentically medieval — antiques abound, and bare stone walls go a long way in setting a mood. It’s the best of both worlds: the ancient ambience of the caves, and the convenience of Ürgüp’s modern infrastructure.
Just off the main square of ancient, sleepy Ortahisar, Exedra Hotel occupies a clutch of stone homes and grotto-like caves carved from the malleable earth. There’s a fascinating contrast between the coarse austerity of the stone and the inviting goose-down bedding, and all the rooms enjoy inspiring views of the surrounding terrain. Speak to the concierge to arrange a hot-air balloon tour — it’s one of the best ways to see Cappadocia’s landscape.
Part modernist structures, part traditional cave dwellings, Ariana Sustainable Luxury Lodge goes perhaps heavier on contemporary design and lighter on heavy stone architecture than many other Cappadocian hotels, and its eleven rooms and suites are among the finest in the region. The Cave Rooms are exactly what they sound like, cut directly into the rock, but with modern comforts like espresso machines, wi-fi, and curvy contemporary furniture. And of the suites, some are cave dwellings, while others are above ground, but all are spacious, stylish, and similarly luxe.
Here, in the Cappadocian town of Ortahisar, rock houses climb hills in spectacular style, and the Hezen Cave Hotel shows what a contemporary designer can do with that traditional architecture as a canvas. Imagine a modern European-style design hotel transplanted to a cave and you’re essentially there — were it not for the sandstone (and, to be fair, the pervasive silence), you might expect to find the streets of Istanbul awaiting outside.
It’s true; these really are some premium caves. Even in Cappadocia — which is pretty much the alpha and the omega when it comes to luxurious cave-dwelling — Kayakapi is a standout, 29 beautifully retrofitted rooms carved into the soft stone cliffs of Göreme National Park. Here a little elevation makes all the difference, and the views from the pool terrace and the suites’ private balconies are second to none.