Accommodation

Hotels, despite being often in short supply in Iran, range from the first-class to grimly spartan. Opulent or luxury hotels are mainly available in large towns and provincial capitals. However, cheap and cheerful establishments are found in nearly all towns throughout Iran. The newest hotels in cities such as Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz, Mashhad, Tabriz, and Ahwaz bear the closest resemblance to their counterparts in Europe or America. Hotels are classified according to a star system: five stars for a luxury establishment with private bathrooms in every room, and one star for a place offering only simple accommodation, but with at least some bathroom or shower facilities and usually a few rooms with private bathrooms. More adventurous travellers may prefer the charm of old-fashioned establishments in interesting or scenic locations. In general, hotels and lodging houses (mosaferkhanehs) in smaller or remote towns offer the necessary comforts. Air-conditioning is not unknown in most of these; postal and telephone services are available in all of them; and ever more hotel rooms are now being equipped with private bathrooms, small refrigerators and TV sets. There is also a grading system for mosaferkanehs which classes them as superior, 1st class or 2nd class. In the last of these categories you can expect almost unimaginable deprivations. Prices within each category are fixed locally by the tourist office and are consistent within each province but not throughout Iran. Hotel taxes (generally around 250 Rials) are also fixed locally. Telex and fax facilities are available in five-star hotels. All these facilities plus foreign exchange facility and gift shops are usually located on the ground floor. Tehran's skyline is now dotted with the audacious and proud facades of a number of great competitors among world-famous hotels: Esteghlal (the previous Hilton), with two towers, Laleh (previous Intercontinental), and the Homa (previous Sheraton). Unfortunately , rates are charged in foreign currency in most of the high-star hotels, so accommodation is not the bargain it used to be. Because there aren't always enough beds to go around you should book in early, preferably in the morning. If you turn up late at the peak of the pilgrimage season, someone would almost certainly take pity on you before you decide to go looking for a park bench. In some regions of northern Iran a sort of home stay (rented room) system exists which can be used by anyone seriously interested in the northern Iranian way of life. The arrangements for this sort of stay are usually made by a family member holding a sign by the roadside which indicates that there is a room to be rented for one night or more. The overnight charges do not include any meal. But arrangements can be made for one or two meals, often featuring regional specialties. Moreover, the Caspian coast has a more or less monopoly on such cheap and popular accommodation as Kapars. Holiday villages are nowhere so numerous as along the northern coast, especially at Bandar-e Anzali, Babolsar, Mahmud Abad, and Farah Abad. Another highly efficient network of tourist residences are the government-sponsored mehmansaras (tourist inn or guest-house), often outside towns, many wit character and charm. For advance reservations, especially during holiday periods, you can arrange through the Iranian Tourist Office, your hotel, or a travel agent. These guest-houses on the whole are of good quality and reasonably priced, and with regards to such services as restaurant, tea-house, bathroom, heating and cooling system, parking, clean and pleasant surroundings, they are often in a position to provide adequate facilities for the comfort of the guests. The first mehmanaras were opened in 1970. Architecturally, the buildings are sober and functional, with a maximum of two stories with a lawn and flower-beds in front or surrounded by a garden. The furniture and facilities are good and suitable for an scrupulously clean. The restaurant is unpretentious and the menu is not varied, which is understandable for an establishment designed to "help out" motoring tourists. Without this network of inns, the trend toward individual tourism which is now developing, would never have started. A good number of these mehmansaras are rated as three-star. New high-class provincial hotels are set in the kind of greenery which is sometimes lacking in Tehran. The Persepolis tourism complex was once praised in the world press. Handy motels are being opened along main itineraries, at Takestan and Kermanshah, for example. In Esfahan, the Abbasi Mehmansara, built in the style of a 17th-century caravanserai, is world famous and the standard-bearer of Iranian hotels because of its exceptional setting and its sumptuous decorations. At the other end of the spectrum, the tourist must sometimes be content, in villages where there are no mehmnsaras, with very rustic establishments whose main attraction is their picturesque nature and the social habits of the locals. It will be a memory of the Orient like those recounted by travellers of the past - of a relatively very recent past. When Iranian couples ask for a double room, they are always asked to provide proof that they are married. Since all guests have to show identity cards on checking in, there is no possibility of booking in a anonymously as Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The rules may be relaxed for non-Muslim Westerners, but on the whole unmarried couples do not travel together and do not share rooms. From: salamiran.org

Send date: 1389/6/17
Visit count: 1150