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Secret Travel Trick: Free Hotel Layover in Istanbul with Turkish Airlines

Secret Travel Trick: Free Hotel Layover in Istanbul with Turkish Airlines

by jeffreyAugust 18, 2014

Here’s a pretty cool travel “trick”:  Turkish Airlines will either put you up in a hotel for the night or give you a free tour of the city if you have a long enough layover in Istanbul-IST. Here’s how to get the free hotel room:

The Deal

Turkish Airlines will provide free lodging if you meet the following requirements (can be a paid or award ticket):

  1. You’re flying Turkish Airlines into and out of Istanbul
  2. You’re just passing through Turkey, your origin and destination is international
  3. Your layover is 10+ hours for economy or 7+ hours for business
  4. The 10+ hour or 7+ hour layover is forced based upon Turkish Air’s flight schedule, i.e. you don’t have the option of taking an earlier flight if you want to

How to Get It

The list above might have seemed strict but there are plenty of instances that would qualify for this deal. For example, if you booked the following flight from Washington, D.C.-IAD to Bordeaux, France-BOD, you would qualify:

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 7.59.25 PM

You’ll be “stuck” with a 18 hour layover in Istanbul which might typically dissuade you from booking, but, knowing that you’ll get a free night in Istanbul might actually encourage you to book this routing. This works because there is only 1 flight per day to Bordeaux.

Let’s take a look at this flight from Washington-IAD to Athens-ATH:

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 10.15.14 PM

On the surface, it appears that it would qualify:  you’ve got a 15 hour layover in Istanbul-IST which is well within the limits of the 10 hour minimum but, upon closer examination, I found that there was actually a connecting flight to Athens-ATH that would have worked:

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 10.17.22 PM

Because the flight gets into Istanbul at 4:40pm and there’s a doable connection to Athens at 7:20pm, I wouldn’t be able to get the free hotel layover in Istanbul on this itinerary, even if I booked the longer layover that leaves at 7:40am the next day.

Terms and conditions: A complimentary hotel accommodation (maximum 2 nights) will be provided to our valuable passengers when there are more than 10 hours (for economy cabin passengers) and 7 or more hours (for business cabin passengers) waiting during their international connecting flights due to Turkish Airlines’ schedule structure. This service is not applicable when there is a shorter connection available within the time frame mentioned above. The first and the connecting flights must be with Turkish Airlines. All passengers must hold a confirmed reservation for the first and the connecting flights. Complimentary accommodation will be arranged with Turkish Airlines’ corporate partners and will be provided through the “Hotel Desk” located after the customs’ check point at the arrival. Passengers must check for any visa requirements when entering Turkey. In the event where a visa is not granted, Turkish Airlines assumes no responsibility for providing complimentary hotel accommodation. For further information, please call +90 212 4440849.

Beware, though:  you could get stuck without a room if Turkish Air adds flights to their schedule between the time of booking and date of travel. To comply with the “this service is not applicable when there is a shorter connection available within the time frame mentioned above” rule, this is checked by an attendant at the Turkish Airlines Hotels desk by simply checking the current flight schedule. If there’s a flight to your destination within the 10 hour/7 hour window, then you’re out of luck.

If you want to confirm if you qualify, you’ll want to check the Turkish Airlines flight schedule. For future flights, the easiest way to do this is to search Google Flights. To confirm closer to your departure date that Turkish Airlines hasn’t added any new routes, I suggest searching the route on

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 9.54.11 PM


The direct flights are shown at the top

The direct flights are shown at the top

Types of hotels to expect:

Here are some of the reported hotels that Turkish Air might put you in– as you can see, it’s a pretty mixed bag (although most are international, Western-style chains).

  • Marriott Renaissance Polat Istanbul Hotel (72% TripAdvisor–most common)
  • Akgün Istanbul Hotel (44% TripAdvisor–common–far from the airport)
  • Wow Airport Hotel (56% TripAdvisor–common)
  • DoubleTree
  • Wyndham İstanbul Petek (92% TripAdvisor)
  • Radisson Blu Conference & Airport Hotel (53% TripAdvisor)
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Courtyard by Marriott Istanbul International Airport
  • Gonen Hotel Istanbul

Where to Go

When you get to Istanbul, you’ll have to clear customs and immigration (and, if you’re a US citizen, pay $20 US in cash for a visa). Once out of customs, you’ll be on the Arrivals floor, turn right and walk to the end and you’ll find the Turkish Airlines Hotel Desk right next to Starbucks.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 9.12.51 PM


Turkish Airlines Hotel Desk Istanbul IST Airport

Source: Mr. Roboto

Turkish Airlines Hotel Desk Istanbul IST Airport 2

Source: Mr. Roboto

The staff will present you with a hotel voucher; this voucher should include breakfast if your stay includes that time window. Additionally, transport to/from the hotel is included.


  • This is available for both paid and award bookings.
  • You could get stuck without a room if Turkish Airlines adds a flight between the time of booking and travel, they check the rule on the day you show up asking for a room.
  • Unfortunately, you cannot pre-book the hotel. You have to be physically present at the Hotel Desk.
  • Contact info for the Hotel Desk is +90 212 463 63 63 / ext. 12426-15532 or and
  • If you get really creative, you could possibly stay for 2 nights on both the outbound and return flights for a total of 4 nights in 1 roundtrip flight.

BOTTOM LINE: Want a free night in Istanbul, maybe even 2? Carefully book your transit to connect through Istanbul and stay within the connection windows and you’ll extend your trip by up to 2 nights for free! Don’t forget that Turkish Airlines is a Star Alliance member so you can use United miles for this trick, as well.

Featured image source:

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  • Wherelse

    Thank you so much, this is unbelievably helpful! I almost booked a hostel for the night overlay in Istanbul (13,2 hrs) and prepared myself for a 1 hour trip to accommodation via metro and tram, when I discovered that both of the issues can be taken care of by the Turkish! Hopefully. Thanks again for taking time to write this article.

    • Thanks! I’m glad you were able to make use of the article and get a free hotel in Istanbul!

  • sushijani

    This is not completely accurate. The rule states “this service is not applicable when there is a shorter connection available within the time frame mentioned above”, meaning this applies to inbound AND connecting flight. If there is possible later IAD-IST flight (than what you booked) in their schedule that puts you within 10hour window, even if the connecting flight is the next possible one, you do not get he free hotel stay. So beware, it’s not only about the next possible connecting flight, but the whole flight segment!

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  • VVIC

    This brings back some lovely memories of the past. I often took ‘advantage’ of the options when I regularly travelled between the UK and Australia. I have some extremely fond memories of lovely hotels and events which came with the compliments of a vast range of airlines over the years – from the Continent and throughout Asia!

    Now, my destinations are far less exciting. However, I often deliberately transit through VIE because my return flight is a misconnect in VIE. Sadly though, as I’m typically using a joint marketing through fare between Air Moldova and Austrian, there are no benefits….understandably.

    However, I’d like to ask, please, whether the following itinerary would ‘qualify’ for my ‘free’ accommodation stopover?

    TK1998Y06MARLGWIST 17:20-23:10
    TK0271Y07MARISTKIV 19:20-20:40

    TK0270Y09MARKIVIST 10:15-11:40
    TK1981Y10MARISTLGW 07:10-09:15

    I’m not as concerned about the southbound journey. It’s the northbound that interests me most. I work with victims of child-trafficking and I often need that ‘mental break’ as I move between the world I’ve been working in and my return to the world in which I reside.

    I’m also presuming that TK will most probably place me in an airport hotel. I don’t mind that at all. I just need the rest and break. Finally, using LGW is a far easier journey for me than LHR. I live on the South Coast of England and when I fly OS I have to leave home circa 0230 every time, in order to get myself to LHR in time, find a place to park my car and check in for my flight.

    May thanks for your close eyed examination of this benefit.

    Fr B+

  • hermes1

    This has inspired me. I will be flying TK in April, LGW-EZE. The flight I have chosen has has a 15.05 layover which makes it a comfortable overnighter. There is a later one but that one has a 10.30 minute layover. Would I qualify if I took the flight with the 15.05 layover? Note the later flight would still be 10.30 minute layover but less convenient.

    One second question. The departure airport is LGW. Would they expect me to have gone for a shorter connection which exists from LHR but which is another LON departure? Many thanks.

  • Noor

    So helpful! I was googling what to do in a layover in Istanbul, and I have the exact same flight (DC to Bordeaux) and back – I was just about to book a hotel and then came across this, and confirmed with the airlines that they still do this. Perfect, two free nights in Istanbul! thanks Jeffrey!

  • nomivan

    Hi guys very help full post i book my flight to Dubai to new york with Turkish airlines i,ll arrive at ata turk airport 10.45 am and then flying to new york next day 7.25 am so my stay on istanbul airport ll be almost 21 hours.
    so my question is am i eligible for free hotel or not ?

  • Adam

    The reality is totally different as compare to above, They don’t give you Hotel or free city Tour ride, maybe 10 out of 100 are lucky one. secondly their customer services is worse.

    • Can you explain in a little more detail? Did you meet all of the requirements and they did not honor it?

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  • Charmian Lim

    Hi Jeffrey! Thanks for the great post!

    Would you know if the flights MUST be booked on Turkish Airlines website to be eligible for the free hotel stay, or are flights booked through third-party websites (e.g. BudgetAir or Expedia) also eligible?

  • Rohan Durugkar

    I have done this (free hotel) twice already, and it is good. I didn’t face any problems. I was traveling from New Delhi to Aalborg and back.

    Being an Indian citizen, I needed a tourist visa. It can be purchased online for USD 43. It is valid for a month, single entry. The hotels they provide are really nice. You can roam around Istanbul if your layover is long enough.

  • Melissa Manahan

    This is good to know! I’m planning to book a flight from Toronto to Accra with a 23 hours stopover in Istanbul. I think someone else asked this question as well, but can you still qualify for the free hotel if you book through a third party? Or does it need to be directly through Turkish Airlines? Also, being a Canadian Citizen, do I need a visa for the long layover?

    • Hi, Melissa. Yes, you should still qualify regardless of the booking method, so 3rd party and award booking should be fine. As far as the visa, yes it appears that you’ll need a visa for the layover. Here’s an excerpt from the Canadian Government website: “Canadians travelling to Turkey for tourism or trade are encouraged to purchase an electronic visa prior to entering the country. Canadians can also obtain a visa on arrival. If you are planning on studying or working in Turkey, you must obtain a visa at a Turkish embassy or consulate.”

      Hope that helps!

  • Ahmad Zakiy Tumadi

    Hi. Im looking at the flight from amman to kuala lumpur. There are two flight. One with 28 hours duration (with 15 hours layover), and the other one with 32 hours duration (with 19 hours layover). If i choose the 32 hours duration, will i get complimentary hotel during the layover in istanbul? Thankyou in advance

  • AB

    Hi Jeffrey, we are looking at a flight from Rome – Los Angeles with a 21 hour layover in Istanbul. As of right now the only flight leaving Istanbul is the next day at 12:55pm. Baring any added flights I believe we would be able to qualify for the free night? Also, I believe they would be able to hold our checked bags if needed?

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  • Pulkit Mahesh

    Hi… What if there is a later inbound flight available to reach Istanbul which reduces the gap to less that 10 hours, outbound flight remaining the same. Will I still get free hotel? Thanks in advance!!

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  • ALB

    I have a 9.55 hours layover, so im short of 5 minutes. I wonder if I can qualify?

    • Cristian Figoli

      Were you able to get it? I’m in a similar situation

      • Mariana Mourão

        I want to know it too?

        • Kayleen

          If you had missed the free tour of Turkish Airlines, you could have joined this one

  • Marko

    Hi Jeffrey, I am arriving in Istanbul at 23:10 and departing the day after at 13:45(no other connection flights with shorter stay than 12 hours and 35 minutes). What is the chance honestly that I get a hotel near the city center? As I am very much limited by time. Thank you in advance.

  • ELQ

    BAD TRICK!!! Done this before and literally had to fight for a room! Had to sit and wait for a long time while vigilantly waiting. Seems like they want to leave w/out you! Similarly, they will make you walk really fast to the bus like they want to loose you! At the hotel, they will make you wait for an eternity before granting you the room. Then, they will haul you back as quickly as you got there! Good luck finding a place to sit after check-in, the few available seats are filled with people sleepingon them! Was it worth the hassle for ME? NOT! I found EgyptAIr to be somewhat better in this regard. Ten hrs and you don’t have to FIGHT for a room but the waiting and in/out game is same.

  • Uba

    Im travelling with my 6 years old son from houston to karachi, my layover is about 7 hours20 mins , will we get hotel ?
    And also want to know if hotels are availavle at the airport or in the city ?

  • Dan

    I arrive at 4:00PM IST on February 18 and leave at 1:50 pm IST February 19. I already have a hotel for the night do I qualify for a tour?

  • Suraj Sthapit

    I have an over night layover of 9 hours in istanbul in a economy class, Will I be eligible for a hotel that night?

  • Udit Rathore

    Does anyone one know if this still applies?