2000 years ago Mount Erciyes erupted in Central Turkey, spewing ash and lava over the Cappadocia region. When the disaster had settled, the terrain was covered in soft-rock pillars that eroded away over the next few centuries. When people returned to Cappadocia they discovered that the rocks were easily carved, and began creating churches, monasteries and dwellings inside the pillars. They decorated them with Christian paintings, sculpted intricate patterns and turned them into wonders of ancient architecture. These underground cities have stood the test of time and today are one of the most fascinating sights in the area. Something that people dream about when researching a trip to Turkey
Any itinerary to Turkey should include at least two attractions – Exploring Istanbul, the historic capital city, and flying in a hot air balloon over Cappadocia. The latter is one of the best “bucket list” items you can do, and there is nothing quite like floating over the fairy chimneys of Goreme. But besides the hot air ballooning there are also a lot of other excellent activities in the region, such as hiking, mountain biking, visiting underground cities and horse riding. At least a few days is needed to enjoy everything, and when trying to pick somewhere to rest your head at night there is no better choice than Kale Konak Cave Hotel in Uçhısar.
Only 2km from Goreme and situated at the base of the Uçhısar Castle, the Kale Konak Cave Hotel offers an incredible experience with impeccable service. In a place where hundreds of cave hotels have opened to cater for the huge numbers of tourists that visit each year, Kale Konak has taken a step above all and become one of the best boutique hotels in Cappadocia.
From the moment we arrived the attentive staff greeted us with a snack plate and cups of fresh apple tea. They went above and beyond to make us feel welcome, which was much appreciated after our long overnight bus ride from the town of Trabzon. The manager Abdullah soon joined us and we chatted and talked for almost an hour before getting a tour of the boutique hotel. Being early December, the hotel was empty except for two guests, so we had the chance to have a look at almost all the immaculately decorated rooms. We were blown away with just how much attention to detail has been put into Kale Konak, and how they have succeeded in using the existing porous rocks as a building frame for creating pure luxury.
We were then shown to our special cave suite, and were blown away from the moment we walked in. The cave room was spacious and tastefully decorated, with subtle lighting throughout the room and lots of comfortable sitting areas. Besides the huge bed (it was seriously massive), we had a couch, table, chairs, a TV, entrance hall and a large bathroom. Unless you suffered from severe claustrophobia, it would be impossible to feel cramped. We even had free wifi in our cave. We’ve been to a lot of caves before, but never before could we check emails while being underground.
Where Kale Konak really soars above most other cave hotels in Cappadocia is with its traditional Turkish hammam, or bathhouse, which is free to use for all guests, 24 hours a day. We had full access to the white marble hammam, and could choose to lock the door for complete privacy. It is truly massive, and supplied with herbal soaps, relaxing music, a sauna and multiple baths and showers. The tiles are heated, and with the steam filling the room it was a wonderful way to spend the cool evenings. If desired the staff can call in some professional masseuses to complement your experience, for an extra fee. For us just soaking up the heat and atmosphere was perfect, and we took full advantage of this incredible facility.
Every morning a delectable local breakfast is served in the restaurant at whatever time you want, meaning there is no rush to wake up in the mornings. Expect eggs cooked in any number of ways, bread, olives, a variety of cheeses, homemade jam, fresh juice, coffee, tea, all spread out covering every corner of your table. It is more of a feast than a meal, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to sit there for over an hour picking at all the delicious food that just never seemed to stop coming. Warning – you may gain weight at Kale Konak.
Unfortunately with us timing our stay in the low season, Kale Konak Cave Hotel weren’t offering their famous dinners. But these are supposedly multi-course affairs and prepared with love. You have to let the staff know whether you will be eating dinner by lunchtime, as it takes that long to make the dishes. Next time we’ll try to be back in summer to sample their delicacies!
With all the amazing things to enjoy at Kale Konak, it can be hard to want to leave. Luckily Abdullah really encourages everyone to get out and enjoy the surrounding area, and they are in a perfect location to set off on day trips. Being outside of Goreme in the village of Uçhısar makes the place very quiet by day and night. The towering Uçhısar Castle is magnificent to climb for sunset, and offers unparalleled views. Their lovely outdoor patio overlooks Pigeon Valley, which is one of the nicest hikes you can do in Cappadocia. We did manage to get hopelessly lost in the valley (as we did every single time we went hiking in the area), but that didn’t matter because it is a pretty epic place to get lost in.
The only down side of being in Uçhısar is that the food options are limited compared to Goreme. There are restaurants and cafes in the village, but not as many as downtown. In the summer this wouldn’t be an inconvenience as the on-site restaurant would be fully operating, or you could make use of the longer daylight hours to wander around Goreme and take advantage of all the different places to eat (hot tip, go to Fat Boys Bar). But in winter when the nights are very cold you will need to take a taxi to get in and out of Goreme if you want to eat outside of Uçhısar. This isn’t really a problem though as most people travel in the summer, and this minor issue didn’t even concern us in winter. We just ended up having a late lunch every day and hitchhiking back to Uçhısar before the sun set.
If you’re looking for some other activities to do besides hanging out in the bathhouse and drinking Cappadocian wine (which is damn good), you can organise a range of tours right from reception. Obviously hot air ballooning is something that should not be missed, but you can also take part in one of the popular tours that happen daily in the area. Whether it is a visit to the open air museum in Goreme or wandering through the underground cities on the outskirts, everything can be booked and paid for right there and you will be picked up from the hotel. We personally went on the “Green Tour” organised through the hotel and it was sensational.
But if you find yourself simply kicking back at Kale Konak, then you will also get the wonderful company of some of the dogs and cats that have been adopted by the staff. Being full-time travellers, we loved the opportunity to play around with the cute pets that wandered care-free around the property. Not a luxury we get to enjoy too often.
All in all Kale Konak Cave Hotel proved to not only be one of the nicest places we have ever stayed in, but also one of the most unique. There is little wonder it has received a Certificate Of Excellence from Trip Advisor and ranks so highly on other review websites. When we return to Cappadocia, and we definitely will as there is still so much to see and do there, we will be booking our stay at Kale Konak Cave Hotel again!
To book your accommodation at Kale Konak Cave Hotel check them out on Agoda and Booking.com.
[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Our stay was covered by the lovely folks at Kale Konak Cave Hotel. All thoughts and opinions are of course our own.[/box]