Cappadocia’s cave hotels: sleep like a first-class caveman

In JRR Tolkien’s novels, the heroes find elaborate underground cities hidden deep beneath the surface of the earth. You don’t have to be a dwarf, however – or even a hobbit – to explore the real-life versions. Just venture to Turkey’s Cappadocia, and a fantasy world comes to life, deep in the heart of Anatolia. Thanks to a new generation of hotels, you too can make like a troglodyte and call a cave home.

Esbelli Evi Cave Hotel

A light and airy living room at the Esbelli Evi Cave Hotel.

© Esbelli Evi Cave Hotel

Its caves may be from the fourth and fifth century, but Esbelli Evi is all about twenty-first century comfort. You’ll even find a whisky decanter by the bathtub and laptops in each room.

One of the very first cave hotels to open its doors, it remains one of the friendliest. Make the most of the well-stocked honesty bar, then kick back to owner Süha Ersöz’s collection of classical and jazz records – or start your own jam on the hotel’s piano.

Although the suites feature marble bathrooms and hardwood floors, the lace curtains are handmade by the Süha’s own mother. It’s all about the personal touch here.

Dolay Sok., 8,
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Serinn House

A night time scene at the Serinn House complex

Serinn House. © Murat Gulyaz

If high fashion is your thing, try Serinn House, where designer Rifat Ergor has styled six rooms that wouldn’t look out of place in New York or Milan.

The sexy curves of the Vitra chairs and oversized angle-poise lights look incredible against the ancient cave walls. The rooms are set out around a courtyard and wrapped in a high wall, giving the hotel an outside layout that seems to merge with cliffs.

Going through the weathered old blue door feels like stepping into a photo-shoot. Inside, lucky guests wolf down homemade fruit pies and cheese ‘borak’ – a yummy, filled pastry – for breakfast, made by hostess Eren and her friendly team. You know, even supermodels have to eat sometimes…

Esbelli Sok., 36,
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Kappadokia Premium Caves

A cave-side veranda with a sunset view

Sunset at the KPC. © Kappadokia Premium Caves

Not every hotel has its own patron saint, but thanks to the nearby Orthodox chapel, Kappadokia Premium Caves has the blessing of St John the Russian, saviour of sailors and hunchbacks.

Alternatively, you can put your faith in the new spa and pool complex, due to open this summer. In the meantime, opt for one of the cave suites with its own Turkish “hammam” spa or personal pool.

The Dinlar family who run the site have high expectations. As part of a historical restoration supported by UNESCO and the World Heritage Center, they are intent on restoring the site to its 18th and 19th century glory. Just with a few added jacuzzis, of course.

Kayakapi Mah., Kuscular Sok., 43,
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Rose Mansions

A late sunset scene in the courtyard of the Rose Mansions complex

© Gul Konaklari – Sinasos

In the mood for something intimate? Also owned by the Dinlar family, Gül Konaklari is a place to truly escape the world.

As you approach the lushly romantic ‘Rose Mansions’ in the sleepy town of Mustafapaşa, the air grows heady with the scent of flowers. Lovers can laze on ‘sedirs’ – low sofas – or enjoy tea in front of the fire during the colder months. One advantage of cave life is that it’s a nice retreat from the blazing heat of summer and the cruel bite of winter, when Cappadocia is blanketed in snow.

For a taste of Ottoman high life, try lamb cooked for hours inside a clay pot over the lovingly restored tandır (fire pit) followed by the moreish local honeycomb. No wonder Monica Bellucci is a fan.

Sumer Sok., 1,
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Cappadocia Cave Resort & Spa

The Cappadocia Cave Resort illuminating the Turkish night's sky.

© Cappadocia Cave Resort and Spa Hotel

If your aim is to end this holiday more fit than when you started, you may have chosen the wrong holiday. Traditional Turkish breakfasts are feasts of creamy yoghurt and irresistible pastries, while the fact that Cappadocia shares a climate with Bordeaux means, that there’s more varieties of local wine than you’ll ever be able to drink.

Up your chances with a stay at the Cappadocia Cave Resort & Spa. If the four-handed massage is too indulgent, opt for the yoga classes overlooking the lunar landscape or flit the inside and outdoor pools. Meanwhile try to forget that the temptations of the three bars, two restaurants and the old, atmospheric wine cave – if you can.

Tekelli Mah., Goreme Cad. Divanli Sok. 83,
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Dorm Cave

A night-time scene at the Dorm Cave Hostel.

© The Dorm Cave Hostel

While some cave hotels are palatial, you don’t have to be a high-roller to get into this underground scene. Just a two-minute walk from the sights of Göreme, this wonderful hostel offers dorm beds for ten euros, as well as clean cool private rooms.

Join a young, international crowd to swap travellers’ tales on the terrace overlooking the town’s ‘fairy chimneys’ – otherworldly natural sculptures left behind after local volcanoes erupted thirty million years ago.

Legend has it that local men are lured down the chimneys by mischievous ‘peris’, fairy-tale creatures. You’re probably more likely to be lured out for an adventure on a quad bike, whizzing over the landscape that looks like the set of a Star Wars film. May the force be with you.

Goreme Kasabasi Orta Mah. Hafiz Abdullah Sok., 4,
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Museum Hotel

A woman sitting on the veranda at the Museum Hotel while a hot air balloon drifts off into the sky

© Museum Hotel

The name of this joint is no exaggeration. Regularly voted one of the top boutique hotels in the world, the Museum Hotel’s cave suites are decorated with priceless antiques from the Ottoman, Seljuk, Roman and Hittite periods, kindly loaned by the Nevşehir Museum.

Some suites even have their own wine taps, complete with free-flowing wine pressed from local grapes. With no immediate reason to ever leave, you’re advised to drag yourself out of your suite to try a cooking lesson in the kitchens of à la carte restaurant, Lil’a.

Top your decadent stay with a massage on the terrace, while enjoying the panoramic views of Avanos, Love Valley and snow-capped Mt. Erciyes. If you’re still craving just a little bit more adventure, you can set your sights on the sky with one of the region’s famous hot air balloon rides.

Tekeli Mah., 1,
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