“The homeland of the Hittites, the largest monastery settlement of the world for centuries, the native land of grapes and wine, the cradle of Christianity, the heart of the Seljuks, the oasis of the Anatolian steppe and the “Land of Beautiful Horses” as the Persians called it: this is Cappadocia”
Cappadocia is hard to describe in words…it’s not only a mystical, magical place, but a ‘feeling,’ like being inside a real-life fairytale. It should be on everyone’s bucket list. The scenery is surreal, food sublime, and hot air ballooning a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The landscape is sprinkled with tall cone-shaped rock formations called “fairy chimneys.” There are cave-dwellings everywhere, some housing churches, but many now converted into hotels. Staying in a cave hotel is a must!
It all began three to four million years ago, when erupting volcanoes formed these pointed structures across the landscape. Underground man-made cities were built. The area is known now as a wine-producing region offering flavorful varieties and a top tourist destination. Today, music festival producers have discovered that the rock enclosed spaces provide spectacular natural venues. And destinations weddings are a dream come true here.
UNESCO even awarded Cappadocia as a World Heritage Site.
There are endless rock hotels to choose from in Cappadocia, but here are our top choices.
HANEDAN CAPPADOCIA SUITES
Hanedan Cappadocia Suites is an all-suites cave hotel in a sweet and sleepy town called Mustafapasa. It is a special self-standing oasis set within the Cappadocia landscape The entire hotel setting is carved into rocks thousands of years old. Each suite is loaded with ancient antiques and some even have their own indoor pools carved into the caves. Just to be on the safe side, the hotel makes guests sign on the dotted line that no antiques will be taken. An old dial up princess phone on the bedstand is a precious stand-out. Complimenting the antique décor which includes brass beds, are modern bathrooms with brand new showers and wonderful stand-alone modern tubs complete with bubble bath. There are a variety of suite sizes to choose from including superior, deluxe, double, family and honeymoon suite.
Hanedan Cappadocia Suites is a super tranquil and peaceful place with only the sounds of the bees buzzing and the Muslim prayer chanting on cue during prayer times. It is a short walk to the town of Mustafapasa, known for homes with decorative doors. It is a good jumping off point for outdoor activities like trekking, horseback riding, ATV rides, jeep safaris and of course the not to be missed hot air ballooning at sunrise. All can be arranged, and pick-ups orchestrated for each activity. Taxis are available for touring other nearby towns.
Special events held here are ideal. Hanedan Cappadocia Suites hosted Echoes from Agartha music festival in summer 2022. Not a bee buzz to be heard at Hanedan then…just young ravers reveling in the thousands of years old rock formations to the pulsating beats of DJs on rock pedestals. International Cappadocia Fashion Week has also been held here, such a perfect place for a fashion parade.
ARGOS IN CAPPADOCIA
The hotel, Argos in Cappadocia is a village unto itself situated in Uchisar. What started as a project to build a house turned into building a hotel that became a village. The hotel’s tagline is “The Hotel with a Village for a Heart.” A cave “castle” sits on the property and even an entire underground city. Argos has a cave theater for movies and meeting presentations as well as an elaborate wine cellar with long tasting tables. The hotel Spa is also housed underground hidden inside the cave for calm and tranquility.
The 51 guest rooms with artful décor are tucked inside the cave walls. The most wow accommodation is the “Splendid Suite,” a duplex complete with a kidney-shaped pool on the lower level and a sitting area with a fireplace and a bed with a beautiful bird engraved headboard on the upper level.
The terraced grounds called Vadi are ideal for a variety of special events and host many creative gatherings. Indoors there are unique spaces underground like the Chapel or Museum Hall for private and group get togethers.
Argos is especially known for its culinary and viticulture experiences. Seki Restaurant is the most popular and most awarded restaurant in the Cappadocia region. It boasts award-winning wines from their own vineyard and fresh produce from their organic garden. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating on a huge terrace with views over Pigeon Valley. The chef masterfully presents the dishes like tasty works of art. Starters include choices like broccoli tartare with avocado, octopus carpaccio and Turkish beef pastrami served in parchment paper. The main courses range from vegetarian to meat or fish. A couple of their specialties included beef cheek casserole and ‘Testi Kab’bi’ local pottery beef kabob. Argos employs the “Zero Mile” philosophy of making food with hyper-local ingredients, important for ecological sustainability, and their gardens are certified with “clean agriculture.”
Seki’s wine list is extensive drawing from their over 70,000 bottle capacity stored in their wine cellar, in what was once one of the oldest monasteries in the world. Emir is the most special grape variety of the region with a juicy, aromatic, and acidic flavor for their white wines. The Cappadocia area has one of the few terroirs in the world where grapes grow healthier due to the volcanic soil. The flavors are derived from the winds that shape the fairy chimneys along the Kizihrmac River.
Seki Lounge, a relaxing room with a view, is a perfect place to chill any time of day. It offers traditional Turkish teas, coffees, and cocktails as well as many fine wines.
Argos activities are many ranging from wine tasting, biking tours, valley hikes, vineyard and garden walks, sunrise yoga and horseback riding to ski tours. Custom experiences range from classic car rides, full moon walks, cooking workshops to romantic picnics. Shopping is just a stroll away in the village of Uchisar. Colorful hand-woven rugs are sold streetside while nearby shops sell plenty of souvenirs. A hike up the impressive Uchisar Castle in town is worth the trek to the top for the commanding views over Cappadocia.
At Argos, artists are invited to an artist in residence program called “Art Goes Argos” where they can be inspired by magical Cappadocia.
MUSEUM HOTEL, A LUXURY CAVE HOTEL
In the walkable town of Uchisar, there is the unique, award-winning Museum Hotel, a Relais & Chateaux Luxury Cave Hotel. This is the only Relais & Chateaux hotel in all of Turkey. It has one of the best viewing vantage points for watching the hot air balloons rising in the sky across this spectacular landscape. It’s the world’s first ‘living museum concept hotel’ with priceless antiquity everywhere. There are historical artifacts from the Hittitie, Seljuk, Roman and Ottoman periods, all registered with the Nevsihar Museum. It has a regal atmosphere, and the suites are a bit posh.
The hotel has 34 unique rooms and suites carved into the rocks, some with pools inside. There is an historic beautiful tiled outdoor Roman pool and grand terrace. Birds are welcome here with a bird house on a pedestal and a pet peacock parading in the garden. Massage tables are in an open-air room framed with the view. Guests can also try treatments in one of the hidden valleys for an even more special experience.
Lil’ a is the on-premises restaurant serving Turkish cuisine with traditional tastes of Anatolia and Cappadocia. The chef even offers Turkish cuisine cooking classes for those wanting to recreate his menus at home. The hotel has their own ecological garden as well as a 200-acre “Indigo Responsible” farming site. It has a horticulture section dedicated to grapes to supply the hotel’s wines. They also create their own organic honey and have free-range chickens for fresh eggs at breakfast.
Probably one of the most unique places in the world to say “I do” is in Cappadocia. The Museum Hotel has an extraordinarily enchanting outdoor wedding space on Love Hill, a hidden oasis, just above Love Valley. Proposals can be done first in in the candle lit Cavo, a romantic wine cave inside the hotel. Afterwards, the honeymoon suite is the ideal place to consummate the marriage. It even comes with wine on tap inside the cave room walls. What a way to start living “Happily Ever After.”
After all, Cappadocia is a land of fairytales.
Hot Air Ballooning
All hotels can arrange hot air balloon rides for their guests, complete with pick up and drop off after the amazing adventure. The only catch is that the balloons take to the sky in the wee hours before sunrise. Be prepared to be picked up around 3am, get set up at 4am and lift off soon after. But checking this item off bucket lists makes it all worthwhile.
Cappadocia For All Seasons
Cappadocia is a place for all seasons. In stark contrast to summer when all the landscape is painted in earthtones, in winter a fairy wand turns everything into a white winter wonderland.
The memories of Cappadocia will live on for a lifetime. Come winter, spring, summer or fall.