The nation we know as Iran is home to one of the oldest human civilisations and was the focal point of the Persian Empire. Going back to the sixth century BC, the Persians occupied a colossal territory that covers Northern Africa, Turkey, portions of the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan over to west India. Human civilisation in Iran goes back to the Lower Paleolithic period (more than 800,000 years prior), which is demonstrated by numerous archaeological finds.
The Persian Empire was established by Cyrus the Great and decided a tremendous zone that extended from southern Europe to India. The central location of Persia made it a focal point for numerous intrusions and much disturbance over its history. Amid the seventh century, the Arabs arrived, trailed by the Turks in the eleventh century, the Mongols in the thirteenth century and lastly the Ottomans. These changes have had a major influence on the region and have created Iran we know today, remainders of the different occupations are still evident.
One of the requests we often get at Crooked Compass is for ‘authentic accommodation’. Visiting a new destination, or revisiting an old favourite, you want to make your stay inside the hotel as enjoyable as your time spent outside of it. What better a way to immerse yourself in the local scene than to spend the night in a historical manor that has been turned into boutique accommodation. On another note, you haven’t had hospitality until you have visited Iran. Iranian Hospitality is without a doubt the best part of travelling to Iran!
Here are a few of our favourite traditional hotels from our Iran In Classe small group tour…
Travellers traversing Iran in the Silk Road trading days would usually spend the night at a caravanserai, to rest, sleep and eat after a long journey through the desert with their animals. Built in a distinct architectural style, caravanserais are said to have been the first types of hotels in ancient Persia and were reported 2,500 years ago when Persia was ruled by the Achaemenid Empire.
Located about 30 minute drive from Yazd, Zeinodin Caravanserai is a unique place to stay and often a highlight of any travellers Iran adventures. As a former site where camel trains would stay for the night, the accommodation surrounds the inner courtyard and the furniture is rustic. The rooftop (or lack of) provides a perfect place to view the night stars and also take wonderful sunset and sunrise photos. Zeinodin Caravanserai looks like it is right out of a movie set, except it is real and authentic!
Best described as a remarkable living example of Iranian culture and art, this 250 year old mansion is located in the Kooshk-e-Safi quarter, one of the oldest quarters of Kashan. The 1000m² house, which is constructed on the “flower bed ditch” model, is in fact the exterior part of an immense house which lost its interior part and other annexes over time. After a seven-year restoration project, this magnificent piece of architecture has emerged as one of the rare traditional residences. In order to preserve the original architecture, it has been repurposed as a boutique hotel in the form of five different spaces including the “Upper House”, the “Veiled House”, the “Hidden Chamber”, the “Resting House” and the “Private Chamber” along with other facilities provided in the “Mirror Hall”, the splendid “Parlor”, the “Banquet Hall”, the “Beverage Room” and the “Cistern Cellar” to serve those who have chosen Kashan as a travel destination.
An extensive collection of delicate artistic detail will fascinate those with an interest in design – cellars, the three door chamber, the five door mirror hall, stained-glass windows, magnificent stuccos, mirror works, and paintings have turned the building into a museum of the works of Kashan’s great masters of art.
Ghasre Monshi Palace is a remainder of Ghajjar Dynasty from the early 1820’s. Providing an unforgettable Iranian experience in a beautiful Persian ambience, this hotel is also historically significant as it was one of the second Shah (Qajar emperor) of Iran, Fatahali Shah, few houses in Isfahan. Undergoing a major renovation and restoration with the supervision of Isfahan’s Cultural Heritage Organisation to ensure preservation of its historic resemblance and values, Ghasre Monshi is a proud example of Persian culture and history.
The hotel is located conveniently in an area very close to the many historical sites in Isfahan. The Ghasre Monshi Alley connects the Ghasre Monshi Palace to the famous Isfahan Bazaar, a part that is home to handmade artefacts; many of Isfahan’s artefacts are handmade in the stores for everyone to see. On the alley, there is a Zurkhana, or a traditional Persian gymnasium. All of this is just 20 steps from your front door. The locale is historically significant because as the economic centre that all Bazaars connect to, it also holds religious symbols, as it surrounds the Aliqapu Mosque.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.