Luxury in a Turkish Cave
By Jonathan Look
My passion is traveling the world and searching out unusual experiences. On a recent trip to Turkey, after several wondrous days in Istanbul, I wanted to try something a little different. I had dreamed about visiting Cappadocia, an enchanted place on the fabled “Silk Road” in central Turkey where stones sprout from the ground like mushrooms, cities are carved from mountains, and the winemakers have been plying their trade since before the 4th century B.C. I also wanted to enjoy a uniquely authentic Cappadocian experience, so I arranged to stay in one of the regions’ best cave accommodations; the Taskonaklar Hotel.
The thought of staying in a cave—a cold, damp, musty chamber with no light—is not on the surface very appealing, but I deferred to my friends who had visited Cappadocia and said that staying in one should be at the top of my list of things to do.
As I drove my rental car from Kayseri, through the legendary landscape of the Anatolia, I found myself traveling in a surreal painting of crumpled, terra cotta colored hills pierced by cream-colored spires. This was not the place of my dreams; it exceeded them. In the distance, I could see Uçhisar, my destination. This citadel of barren rock, the highest point in Cappadocia, towered over the surrounding plains. Just below the summit, carved into the solid rock, I could see dozens of windows peering over the surroundings, with the city itself spilled further below surrounding the fortress. I navigated my car through absurdly narrow alleyways and finally found the small sign announcing the Taskonaklar Hotel.
As I arrived onto the property I was presented with a panoramic view of Pigeon Valley below. The vista was interrupted by scores of “fairy chimneys,” skinny pyramidshaped
spires that jutted from the valley, many of which themselves have been carved by
Byzantine settlers into desert homes. I was shown to my suite and quickly discovered that, although I was going to be living in a cave carved from solid rock, I wasn’t
going to be living as a troglodyte. My suite had a huge private terrace that overlooked
the stunning surroundings, hardwood floors, a stone fireplace, Turkish rugs, fine linens, and all the modern amenities you would expect from a world-class hotel. I asked for a tour of the property and was proudly shown an establishment that shows evidence of accommodating travelers for millennia. Each suite is unique; some had ancient tandoori ovens carved into the floor while others had wine presses, and vats
carved into the rock. Others had hot tubs with unimpeded views of the landscape.
On the surface, thoughts created when you think “cave hotel,” don’t inspire luxury or even comfort, but once again, travel has altered my expectations. Not only did I get a huge helping of unique, I also received a generous measure of luxury, which I couldn’t have imagined from a cave before.
Editor’s Note: Jonathan Look, Jr. writes about life, retirement, and travel at his website LifePart2.com.
Thank you Jon for your lovely article!!