Perched on the lofty fringes of busy Göreme – hub for the hauntingly beautiful landscapes of Turkey’s Cappadocia region – the Fairy Chimney Inn invites travelers to experience the area’s unique geological and historical heritage with an authentic cave stay. Here, 11 cozy guestrooms come scooped out of the soft volcanic rock that defines Cappadocia’s distinctive geography, with its age-old stone pillars and elaborate network of such ancient troglodyte dwellings.
Before starting life as a guesthouse in 2005, these caves once served as part of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine cave monastery, and, later, as general housing for local Turkish families. Frills are few, but thrills come in the form of the property’s charmingly authentic cave rooms and splendid terrace views.
Set on the upper edge of town away from much of its hubbub (yet less than a 10-minute walk to Göreme’s center), at the border of protected national park area, dreamy views here expand over Cappadocia’s dizzying display of nature, pocked by the “fairy chimneys” (tall conical formations) that have given the hotel its namesake. Fairy Chimney Inn's generous terraces provide prime perches for taking in the wonderfully weird rock formations, with stellar sunsets proving especially mesmerizing.
Rooms are fairly primitive, but that’s the true-to-spirit point. Each unit touts individual character, with most carrying names of families that once lived in them, generations ago. Each comes with traditional colorful rugs, tables and chairs, wardrobes, hot-water kettles, and private bathrooms. (Of course, no room is so primitive that it doesn’t come with a Wi-Fi connection.)
Earlier this month, I stayed in the newest addition to the bunch, which opened semi-officially this year: “The Hobbit,” formerly the office of the proprietor, is set atop the property with a picture-perfect panorama waiting just outside, and colorful and spacious digs set within. Just note: a stay here did require burrowing down a narrow tunnel to access the separate bathroom area (a snug shower/toilet combo that wasn’t particularly welcoming). The owner also launched a “Nomad Tent” last year, offering guests another unique lodging opportunity: sleep alfresco in a tent traditional to area nomads, equipped with a double bed and seating area.
Buffet breakfasts are included in the rates (be sure to try the traditional Turkish cheese-filled pancakes, and homemade bread, with jams sourced from the onsite garden), coupled with great views from the dining terrace; dinner can also be arranged, with one standard and one vegetarian option on the menu nightly. A guest computer, lending library filled with travel titles, and TV lounge round out the common spaces.
Established and run by German cultural anthropologist Andus Emge (and his Turkish wife, Gülcan), who wrote his dissertation on Göreme’s cave houses, Emge worried less about design and more about authenticity when reclaiming the place. The couple lives onsite and can offer plenty of insight and personal anecdotes about life in the region. Bed-and-breakfast rates start at $71/night, based on double occupancy (singles from $57/night).
Incurable travel addict, longtime travel scribe, and mindful money-saver Elissa Richard is currently indulging her insatiable wanderlust on an epic 14-month journey around the globe – intent on making it every step of the way without busting her modest budget. Follow her along the way as she reports back with budget-savvy travel tips from the mountains of Transylvania to the wilds of Tasmania, and from the little-trodden temples of Burma to the bustling bars and clubs of Buenos Aires. A vagabond in search of value, just for ShermansTravel!