Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cappadocia's Cave Hotels

Typical cave hotel room
There must be 50 cave and partial cave hotels in Cappadocia, spread from Uchisar, Goreme, Ortahisar, Cavisun, Avanos, and probably other towns I’ve not yet visited. Some of them are pretty cheap, a simple room dug out from the tuff with a bath at the end of a tunnel or walkway, shared with numerous other guests. Others, like the Hezen Cave, are boutique hotels that serve a large breakfast, sometimes a wine-cheese welcome party in the evening, and feature large romantically lit rooms with cuddly beds.

The Hezen Cave has been my personal landmark. It’s the place I aimed for on arrival, as Evelien’s home was more difficult to find. The hotel had signs pointing downhill from the main road to its landing. I took my first photo in Cappadocia, of the castle of Ortahisar, while standing on the hotel’s wide veranda at sunset.  And in my first couple of days, lost and disoriented, I could ask anyone where the Hezen Cave Hotel was and be pointed in the right direction.

Later on I met Nil, the hotel’s manager, at a party on the eve of Kurban Bayrami, and a few days ago had breakfast with her at the hotel’s lovely breakfast room. She is the face of Hezen Cave and has a smile like sunrise. Sunday, I toured the whole place with the owner, Murat Guzelgoz, who also owns a rug and textile gallery, Le Bazaar D’Orient, in Urgup. He’s quite a businessman. Hezen Cave has only been open since May 2011. It had been a cave hotel before but was run down. In four months, he remodeled it into its current state, and now has purchased the cave home next door. On that side, he is creating a large garden and a trio of three-room suites accessed by a tunnel through the rock!

This cave hotel is the perfect example of high-end luxury lodging in Cappadocia. The rooms are unique; each has a different size, layout, and décor. Some have fireplaces; others sitting caves, but all are equipped with modern plumbing, electricity, and hot water heating. Air conditioning is not really required, the caves keep a year round temperature of about 45-60 degrees F, lovely in summer but not quite warm enough in colder seasons.

Nice details in the reception area
There is a lot to do in Cappadocia besides look at the unusual rock formations and eat Turkish Delight. There are many hot air balloon companies. On most still mornings, the sound of burners flaring is as common as the canyon wrens calling to each other.  In the surrounding areas, ranches provide long horseback rides into the hills.  The staff at any hotel can arrange day tours by bus and van, horseback rides, or sunrise balloon trips.  The more touristy towns like Urgup and Goreme are lined with rug, kilim, and ceramic shops, small cafes and good restaurants. Clothing stores run the gamut of outdoor sportswear to slinky beaded belly dancing outfits. And in between there are bakeries and sweet shops. Every town has a museum of sorts. Mr. Guzelgoz also owns a museum of carpets and textiles in Urgup complete with princely Ottomon Kaftans.

Now, in mid-November, most of the hotels, cafes, and tourist-oriented businesses are closing up for winter which can be harsh and very cold. It’s a good time to do repairs, finish projects, or do like many locals: go the big city of Istanbul. For those who can afford it, four months of vacation from working seven days a week catering to a booming tourist industry is just the ticket. Until next season!!

Here's their website:  HezenCave

Cave rooms and lots of stairs

Typical well-appointed bathroom

Many outdoor spaces to enjoy

Breakfast area

Nice little tucked-away sitting areas

Such romantic lighting
Working on rooms for next summer!