Six months on the road, and we’ve stayed in countless hotels, apartments, guesthouses, and campsites. By now, we’ve figured out our favorite amenities (Jenna: baby kittehs | Ben: views) and the things that can instantly ruin a place (sewage smell coming from the shower drain–UGH). Every place we’ve stayed has been perfectly acceptable, and a lot of places have even been amazing, but only one place can be my favorite: the Kelebek Hotel in Cappadocia, Turkey.
I’m not alone in feeling this way; the Kelebek Hotel has the most consistently amazing reviews on TripAdvisor that I’ve ever seen. It comes highly recommended by Liz of Young Adventuress, and she’s an expert! To say that I had high hopes when our plane landed in Cappadocia would be an understatement.
Within a few minutes of landing, a shuttle (organized by the hotel) whisked us away. I slept for most of the drive, and I woke up in a totally alien landscape. We were in a town, but instead of concrete or brick buildings, everything was built into wild rock formations that sprung up all along the roadside. I grew up in the American West and I’m used to crazy rocks, but seeing windows and doors carved into towering rock chimneys was totally new to me. I was delighted (and somewhat sleep-dazed) when we pulled up to the Kelebek Hotel, checked in, and were led right to our room in one of the “fairy chimneys.” Our window looked out over the otherworldly landscape of Göreme, Turkey, and it hit me that I had started dreaming of this moment over ten years ago, when I jotted down “go to Cappadocia” on my first bucket list. It was perfect.
The fun didn’t end at our room, though. Our friendly receptionist toured us around the property, showing off the breakfast room, pool, spa, garden, and seemingly endless nooks and crannies for relaxing–each with an astounding view. As thunder began to echo against the surrounding hillsides, I grabbed my current read (Dune, a super-relevant book for when you’re in an alien desert landscape), claimed my spot and just hung out. For the rest of the day. We watched an awesome lightning storm, drank wine on the balcony, and listened to the pouring rain outside our window. It was heaven.
The next morning was clear, and we went for a hike right from our front door into Pigeon Valley. It was stunning–wild roses and purple flowers carpeted the valley floor, while ancient pigeoncotes looked down from the valley walls. Our hike took all morning and by the time we got back, it was perfect pool weather. The water was cold and refreshing, the view was of course, amazing, and the hammocks tempted us to stay for the rest of the day. I only dragged myself away to make an appointment for a traditional scrub at the in-house hamam the next day.
The scrub and hamam at the Kelebek Hotel may have been the most unique spa experience I’ve ever had. After ten minutes in a boiling-hot sauna, the attendant laid me out on a heated marble slab and began to scrub–hard–with a rough washcloth. My skin tingled all over as she rinsed away the dead skin. The next step was to bury me in bubbles–literally. I have never seen so much foam. I’m pretty sure I was invisible under a two-foot tall mound of it. Somehow the attendant located my back, arms and legs for the massage part of the experience. After the rinse–which included one bracingly cold bucket poured over my head–I got to rest on a chaise longue, a pretty standard post-spa treat, but one that I can never endure for more than five minutes. I always feel so antsy after a massage.
On our last day in Cappadocia, we woke before dawn to watch the hot air balloons rise over the nearby valleys. Ben had already done this once and got to see the sun rise, but this time clouds were in the way. It was still quite a spectacle; dozens of whimsical balloons hovered above an already-strange landscape. The baskets passed right over our heads, and people waved at us and laughed. I was jealous, but at least we hadn’t paid a few hundred euro for a sunrise balloon ride on a day when the sun didn’t even come out! We made our way back to the Kelebek Hotel for the coolest activity offered by a hotel: an organic breakfast on a nearby farm. Before it was a hotel, the Kelebek was home to the Yavuz family, and they grew their vegetables on a farm in Kings Valley that had been in the family for four hundred years. Today, Ali Yavuz owns the Kelebek and brings his guests out to the farm on a tractor to enjoy a true farm-to-table meal and learn about the history of the area. It was fascinating, delicious, and a perfect end to our Cappadocia visit.
Of course, in my eyes, no hotel can truly be perfect without one thing: tiny kittens. And we were in luck at the Kelebek Hotel. A mama cat was hiding her baby in a storage room, and we snuck peeks in there whenever the door was open.