Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay

Moments from Bodrum, the bustling resort dubbed ‘Turkey’s St Tropez’, Jonny Payne finds the ultimate space for relaxation at the Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay with its luxury Six Senses Spa and far-reaching sea views.

First impressions

I arrive at the Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay in darkness after a 20-minute drive from Bodrum that ends high up on a cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea. The moonlight glints on the water below where the silhouette of a superyacht dances among the shadows. Apart from the lights of the hotel, there are no others anywhere to be seen.

Kempinski relaxUnwind by the infinity pool
Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay

I walk into the large reception area, which is decked with shiny marble and dark wood flooring. Beyond it, the stairway opens up into a gigantic atrium that, although spacious, is tastefully divided into neatly defined areas across various floors.

The main thing that strikes me about the Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay is its vastness. The large atrium acts as a central hub with spider-like limbs as corridors leading off to the sides. Glimpsed through the large floor-to-ceiling windows, terraces tumble down layer upon layer leading to the infinity pool with its submerged domes and minarets like a sunken city.

Come morning, I open the door to my balcony and walk outside. I sit down in the dry heat and marvel at the view across Barbaros Bay, which is contained within finger-like headlands that are dotted with scrub vegetation on the reddish-brown earth – the hotel couldn’t be further away from it all.

Ideal for…

The well-heeled, oligarchs (the superyacht in the bay belongs to Roman Abramovich) and those seeking relaxation and opulence away from lively Bodrum, which has been christened 'Turkey's St Tropez'.

Kempinski room The spacious Grand Deluxe rooms have sea views
Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay

The room

Echoing the airiness of the atrium, my Grand Deluxe room has a spacious feel despite being fairly narrow. In fact, even the king-size bed is seemingly engulfed in an extra large helping of air.

The bed itself is slightly on the hard side, but is very comfortable, and there is a pillow menu for those who cannot do without duck feathers or memory foam when away from home.

Like much of the hotel, the bathroom is adorned in marble and it boasts twin sinks, a separate toilet cubicle and Molton Brown toiletries. It has a wide opening from the bedroom giving it a more spacious and less claustrophobic feel than most hotel bathrooms.

The banquette under the window is a great place to snuggle up to a loved one or to sit down to the welcoming cupcakes or an in-room breakfast, while the generous balcony offers panoramic views of the bay.

Best room?

The One Bedroom Suites may not have the 24-hour butler service or rooftop whirlpool of the lavish Presidential Suites, but these suites are at a more affordable price and still include such benefits as a hot tub, terrace, Jo Malone bathroom amenities and a daily spa treatment.

Kempinski restaurantEat beachside at Barbarossa Beach & Seafront Grill
Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay

Eating and drinking

The breakfast is almost overwhelming. The usual continental style cold and hot buffet is bolstered by all sorts of local delights, from sweet and sticky gözleme (Turkish pancake-like pastries) to savoury dolma (stuffed vine leaves), juicy goat’s cheese-stuffed peppers and even sparkling wine.

Sadly I didn’t have the chance to eat at the on-site Italian restaurant La Luce. This intimate eatery has stunning views and is the perfect night-time dining spot – and I am told by fellow guests the food lives up to the view.

There is a variety of other dining options at the hotel, including the Olives Restaurant with its Turkish and wider Mediterranean cuisine; Saigon Club, which serves Asian delights; and the beachside Barbarossa Beach & Seafront Grill with its offerings of pizza and grilled meat. There’s also poolside dining with a varied selection of sandwiches and small plates – the burger in particular is a good choice for post-swimming nourishment.

Kempinski Bodrum spaRelax in the opulent Six Senses Spa
Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay

The extras

The Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay is home to the luxurious Six Senses Spa, a leading name in holistic spa treatment. This underground labyrinth stretches out with its termite-like corridors each ending in secluded chambers housing massage rooms, steam rooms or saunas.

The hammam is directly under the swimming pool, with its bright white dome rising majestically above the water. It’s a modern take on the traditional Turkish baths, with striped tiles replacing more traditional designs, but it works and it’s the ultimate place in which to relax.

I head to the spa the morning after a lively (and long) night at the local Halikarnas nightclub, so I opt for the Energizer massage (YTL180). It’s so relaxing I almost fall asleep within minutes and by the end of the 50-minute upper-body treatment any sign of a hangover has been rubbed, squeezed or teased out of my muscles.

Among the other leisure options is the Kempinski’s own private and secluded beach, while guests in certain suites are granted a daily ‘green fee’ at the local golf course. A motorboat can also be chartered from the hotel (€1,000 per day including crew – food and drinks excluded) with pick-up available from the hotel’s own jetty.

Kempinski BodrumExplore the Bodrum Peninsula
Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay / WTG / Jonny Payne

Room for improvement

While much of the hotel seems light and airy, the long corridors could be made less foreboding as they currently have the feel of never-ending walkways to airport departure gates or dingy hospital corridors.

My Grand Deluxe room is not short on space, so it’s difficult to understand why the shower is combined with the bath – it’s not only a hassle to get in and out, but even with a screen some water leaks onto the floor.

Out and about

Bodrum is a short trip from the hotel either by car or boat. This charming city is home to a night bazaar selling quality and imitation goods, restaurants serving authentic Turkish cuisine and bars and clubs putting on lively nightlife.

The hotel’s location also allows easy access (either by road or by sea) to the many traditional fishing villages and attractions within the Bodrum Peninsula.


Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay
Address: Kızılagac Koyu, Gerenkuyu Mevkii, Yaliciftlik, Bodrum, Mugla, Turkey
Tel.: +90 252 311 0303.
Room prices start from €170 or suites from €275 (subject to availability). Prices are correct at the time of writing.

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