Take a trip to the moon and back with a stay at Argos in Cappadocia, Turkey’s borderline-bizarre lunar landscape, which spans fairy chimneys, volcanic tuff, meringue-like boulders and hexagonal-holed hillsides. Guests at this restored monastery in the Pigeon Valley can turn full troglodyte in their own Jacuzzi-enhanced cave, take flight in a hot-air balloon to see the surreal setting from above and moonwalk at midnight. If the name Pigeon Valley is conjuring a Turkish Trafalgar Square, don’t worry – there are no urban avians around here, only an abundance of dovecotes carved into the cliffs and pinnacles.
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A bottle of wine from the hotel’s vineyards and a fruit platter
Double rooms from £300.85 (€347), including tax at 12 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast, served in Nahita.
Anyone hoping to explore this lunar landscape by the light of the actual moon should sign up for one of the full moon walks. Pick up snacks from Seki or drop in to Nahita for a taste of authentic Anatolian cuisine and a glass of wine from the hotel's vineyard.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, sunrise yoga, wine cellar. In rooms: air-conditioning, free bottled water, Nespresso coffee machine and Bose sound system.
Our favourite rooms
All rooms enjoy some of the best views of the Pigeon Valley around, but to commandeer your own supersize cave, request roomy room 3601, where there’s a bed at the top of a stone staircase. And the novelty of having a pool in a cave will never wear off – budding troglodyte bathers should select a Tiraz Jacuzzi Suite, each of which has its own Turkish bath.
The heated Pigeon Valley-facing pool is open for dips with a view that includes Mount Erciyes (and its snowy surrounds in winter) between 8am and 9pm.
There’s no full spa, but massages in a mystical treatment cave are possible.
Hiking-friendly footwear (moon boots won’t be necessary) and hot-air-balloon-approved clothing ready to take flight in.
There are accessible Standard Rooms, Deluxe Rooms and Suites on the ground floor.
Pets weighing in at less than 12kg are welcome – the hotel charges €30 (plus tax) daily. Furry friends won’t be allowed at the restaurant or bar, and must be on a lead in public spaces. See more pet-friendly hotels in Cappodocia.
All ages are welcome. One child under six can stay for free, then an extra-bed rate will be charged. It’s not possible to have extra beds added to Standard Rooms, nor some of the Deluxe Rooms.
The restoration of this millennia-old monastery has been responsible ever since it began in 1996. Today, organic produce is grown in the hotel gardens, a heat pump is used to reduce emissions, and the hotel runs an Applied Training Workshops programme to help local women achieve financial independence by selling impressive handmade products with traditional textiles and meticulous designs.
Picnics in peaceful corners cordoned off just for you can be arranged by the staff, or have some marshmallows handy for the fire-pit on the terrace.
Man on the moon.
Located in one of the world's oldest monastry settlements, Seki is named after the Turkish word for terrace, where you will indeed be able to enjoy alfresco cuisine as you overlook the region's famed fairy chimneys. The interiors are just as good, with high windows, beamed ceilings and vaults. Herbs and vegetables are grown in the garden (you’ll be able to pick your own, if you’re keen). Don’t miss a trip down through the old stone tunnels and cramped corridors to the wine cellar, which stocks a hefty 22,000 bottles. Buffet breakfasts are served at Nahita every morning. Local produce and sustainability are also at the centre of Nahita’s menu, serving up traditional Anatolian fare in a cosy honey-hued stone room where a wood-burning fireplace gently crackles in the background.
The Seki Lounge is yet another prime perch for viewing the Pigeon Valley and this time with an Argos wine or raki in hand. The Hennessy terrace means it’s always Cognac o’clock beside a fire-pit unless it’s especially windy.
Breakfast hours are 7am to 11am; lunch is available from 1pm until 4.30pm; and dinner is from 6pm to 11pm – with brunch and afternoon tea on offer to fill in the gaps. The bar stops serving at 11pm.
Meals and snacks can be ordered to your room (/cave) around the clock.
Argos in Cappadocia is in Turkey’s most famous lunar landscape, in the Asian part once known as Anatolia and nothing at all to do with catalogue stores.
There are two airports that serve the region – Kayseri and Nevsehir – but most international arrivals will have to connect to a domestic service in Istanbul. The drive from Nevsehir should take around 40 minutes; from Kayseri, the journey will be closer to an hour and a half. Hotel transfers can be arranged on request.
Hot-air balloon is the preferred mode of transport around these parts, but if you have come by plain old car, valet parking at the hotel is free.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hot-air balloons drifting above Cappadocia’s conical rocks, desert plains and volcanic dovecotes are impossible to miss (especially in souvenir form) – join the floating parade with a trip in a Royal Balloon, or see them with feet (or hooves) firmly planted on the ground on a horseback adventure with Cappadocia’s resident cowboys, the Dalton brothers. The landscape is certainly magical, so you may as well go full fairy tale with a treasure hunt, and Middle Earth’s ones helpfully take in some of the region’s most spectacular spots as part of the quest. The hotel can arrange guided tours of the area, vineyard visits, classic-car rides through the various valleys, midnight moon walks, cookery classes and culinary trips to a local village, and hikes to see the famous fairy chimneys up close.
The hospitality comes with a whole lot of history at the Old Greek House in the village of Mustafapasa, once the residence of an artist and the star of a much-loved Turkish TV show. In Gorëme, Dibek serves traditional food in a 475-year-old building – guests gather around the tables on cushions to enjoy ravioli, clay-cooked kebabs and homemade wine. Meze can also be mainlined at Ziggy Cafe, designed to feel like your friend’s living room, only with regular live jazz acts.
Go for the cocktails, but stay for the classic Anatolian cuisine at Reserved Cappadocia, a short Pigeon Valley stroll away.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this historic hotel in Turkey and unpacked their hiking boots and hammam gear, a full account of their troglodyte trip will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Argos in Cappadocia…
Phileas Fogg may have never actually boarded a hot-air balloon in his 80-day expedition, but it would be criminal not to in Cappadocia, the world’s unofficial ultimate ballooning destination. The spectacular lunar landscape hardly had to try to be any more magical, but it’s even more otherworldly thanks to its frequently floating baskets. At Argos in Cappadocia, a thousand-year-old monastery was restored, bringing back to life the caves, underground tunnels and historic houses of the town of Uchisar. The hotel has some of the best Pigeon Valley views going, and it's close to Gorëme and its valley of fairy chimneys – these freakish rock formations once offered shelter to persecuted Christians. Pigeons are also given refuge, in the many dovecotes carved by man into the soft volcanic tuff. And it’s still providing sanctuary today, only this time with a wine cellar, Jacuzzis in your cave suite and hot-air balloons to reach for the moon.