Like an Escher drawing where every staircase leads to an entirely new plane and perspective, the gardens and passageways of Argos in Cappadocia delight and surprise, evoking a fairy tale—with the background of lunar landscapes. It’s a stuff of Silk Road legends, transformed into a trendy, truly unique hotel.
Uchisar is a charming village in Turkey sprawling on a steep hill that towers over the iconic landscape of Cappadocia, where human architecture blends with fairy chimneys sculpted by wind and rain.
The Argos project
Some of Uchisar’s oldest and most dilapidated dwellings were acquired by Argos in Cappadocia owner, Gökşin Ilıcalı, who set out to create a small boutique hotel.
However, a chance discovery of a medieval monastery, caravanserai, and underground tunnel network had altered these plans—prompting a huge restoration project.
Thus the decaying chapels, tunnels, and houses were transformed into a ‘rustic luxury’ hotel, with many rooms carved out of the soft volcanic rock. Ilıcalı calls it “an ancient village with a reception desk.”
Built on a steep slope, the complex descends to small vegetable patches and vineyards through a maze of gardens, terraces, cliffs and staircases, secret passages, bridges, piazzas and tunnels, and other nooks and crannies.
We wandered many a time its cobbled streets and passageways, just to end up under some pergola or arcade, lined with geraniums, zinnias, and hanging chains of sun-dried tomatoes.
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Pumpkins and marble
Vibrant yellow pumpkins decorating the reception entrance, drying corn cobs hung from arches, a collection of weathered collectibles and other objects make the design of Argos personal and unique. But that’s one side of it—and the contemporary luxury is another.
Elegant patio furniture pieces, rattan recliners, and sofas with brightly colored cushions adorn a tranquil courtyard with a small fountain. Inside the guest rooms, museum-quality artifacts (discovered during the archaeological digs) displayed in roughly-cut niches coexist with iPods and docking stations.
Though restored from medieval cave dwellings, the rooms are equipped with modern, spacious bathrooms, finished with marble. There are working fireplaces (the hotel is opened year-round) and contemporary fixtures provide lighting.
Pools in caves
The overall design of guest rooms inspires contemplation and relaxation. The lucky ones will check-in to one of the four splendid and expensive suites with a private plunge pool inside a cave. There are 36 other rooms, though, of different sizes and plans, spread over five mansions.
Galleries, tunnels, vaults and caves under the hotel have been adapted for different purposes. The network of tunnels has a small museum, and what was once a Silk Road caravanserai has its second life as a meeting hall. The Huge nexus of caves was transformed into a controlled-atmosphere wine cellar, with capacity for over 70 thousand bottles.
Getting there: The flight-comparison sites such as Skyscanner (www.skyscanner.com) or Kayak (www.kayak.com) will help you find the best flights and deals.