By Smitha Sadanandan
The sun climbs into the sky and shines down on the village of Ürgüp in Cappadocia. The narrow roads mapped through the ochre terrain wind uphill towards what is, perhaps, one of the first settlement zones in Cappadocia: the historical site of the Kayakapi neighbourhood.
Referred to as the ‘landowner’s neighbourhood’ by the locals, the site is currently being restored to its initial glory under the initiative of Mustafa Dinler and his family. Saddened by the sight of the once bustling residential neighbourhood turning to shambles, the family decided to do their bit and fix things up. The project took off with adequate support from UNESCO and the World Heritage Center, since the site comprises hundreds of ancient cave houses and historical structures.
Kayakapi Premium Caves, part of this restoration initiative, perches proudly atop the hill and surrounded by ancient caves, a 10th century Cave Church, a mosque that dates back to the Seljuk Empire, the cave house of St. John the Russian (folk saint of Greece) and an ancient hamam. What you get here is a hotel set against the backdrop of a spectacular lunaresque landscape. For a comfortable stay, this hotel is a worthy choice. It is an eco-haven with a primal twist: timeless and awe-inspiring.
In the heart of Cappadocia, Kayakapi Premium Caves is proof that luxury can be simple and ecological. The renovated caves with modern touches are a lesson in the wisdom of Cappadocia’s native building techniques. The rooms have been built with indigenous materials using traditional building techniques and styles, all of which have a minimal impact on the environment and the ancient cave structures.
There are, in all, 230 houses in the neighbourhood and to prevent imminent scars of development, only 55-60 of these will be converted into rooms, suites and mansions by mid-2015. “The restoration will continue but under a different hotel name. Kayakapi Premium Caves – Cappadocia will have no more than 60 rooms so as to ensure high quality service,” says says Yakup Dinler, General Manager, who is busy translating his father Mustafa’s dreams into an architectural reality.
The rooms are spacious and comfy; just what jaded travellers look for. It is also a respite from the chaotic urban mess. The rooms, each named after the people who once lived in these caves, strike a chord, as does the primal coziness of snuggling into a room in one of mankind’s first ever architectural dwellings.
After a comfortable night’s sleep in complete darkness, you can enjoy a rich buffet breakfast with Cappadocian specialties, followed by a la carte lunches and dinners. For lunch and dinner, the restaurant offers international and local specialties, including fish, spinach and cheese pies, and delicious homemade hummus.
There’s plenty to do here, too–you can enjoy the stunning views of the Ürgüp village or indulge in a perfect view of the clear sky and valleys with goopy rock formations – all the while relaxing in your private garden. Furthermore, you can soak in the views of the vast landscape, while tucking into a delicious meal on the terrace of Bistro Manzara. Air balloon tours over the valley are a popular option for more adventurous guests.
At the end of your stay, the hotel gifts you a clay tile bearing the name and number of the room you stayed in. It seems only fitting to take home a bit of the earth after having eaten, relaxed and slept so calmly in its belly.
For more details on room rates, visit Kayakapi Premium Caves