You may be aware there are only around 900 registered hotels and hostels across Iran, so there is limited capacity especially in high season from March - October. For these reasons we recommend making an Iran hotel booking and and arranging domestic flights (if needed) well in advance.
This is especially true if wanting a nicer room at your favorite hotel found on Trip Advisor or Lonely Planet. Remember you're not the only one researching quality beds, so chances are these will book out first.
Fahadan Museum Hotel - Popular traditional Yazd hotel recommended by Trip Advisor.
Spring (March-May) is especially a nightmare, especially during festivals and international conferences. However in the recent year there hasn't been much of a low season for hotels. Tehran and Isfahan are sometimes 90% full a week in advance. This often leaves a choice between the most undesirable pick of the crop, or risky home stays.
Hi Isfahan : One of the more comfortable homestay B&B's in the heart of Isfahan.
Just remember some of the 5 Star Hotels in Iran are old fashioned from the 1970's, while other 3 Star Hotels in may be nicer than the luxury hotels. So you should lower your expectations in Iran and maybe drop a few stars compared to modern western hotels.
Great located home stays can sometimes be high quality, giving off an English B&B sort of feeling, just more Persian-style. But more often than not, they are rundown houses, or incredibly far away from downtown areas where you don't want to be. So overall there maybe perhaps 6,000+ lodging places including home stays and other private beds.
You can shop around for last minute deals when you arrive, but you might find it difficult to communicate in Persian with the often underpaid staff. However if you can communicate, or find a local to help you out, there are private apartments all around the country. Look for signs in popular tourist areas, especially around the ski slopes and along the northern Caspian Coast.
Private Suite : Typical Local Lodging Signage.
Here is some helpful quick information about Iran hotels in main cities:
Tehran is the largest city of Iran, so is also the city with most traffic and pollution. The location of your hotel if of importance; the hotels in the old city center are closest to most tourist attractions, while the hotels in the far north are the more modern and closer to the relaxing mountains. Many of Tehran hotels are equipped with WiFi, room service, tourist information desk, laundry, cafe's and restaurants (over 3 Star). The value of hotels in Tehran are second probably only to Mashhad.
Most Shiraz Hotels are in the city center close to tourist locations such as the citadel. There are several traditional guest houses in Shiraz that have become popular. Quality hotels in Shiraz are generally reasonable value. There are also decent hotels near parks and with hillside views.
Kashan and Yazd Hotels:
Most of Kashan and Yazd’s hotels are renovated traditional mansions and caravanserai's. Tourists usually enjoy these hotels for their character and friendly English speaking staff. However there are also some mosaferkhaneh's and quasi-hostels. There are no legitimate 5 Star hotels in these cities up to western standards.
Hotels in Isfahan are probably the worst value in the country. The only true traditional hotel is Abbasi Hotel, build in Shah Abbas around the 17th CE, it claims 5 Star status and also to be the oldest hotel in the world. This is likely not true compared to some Japanese and German hotels. Regardless it's best choosing a hotel based on location, avoiding traffic noise, and staff friendliness (rather than stars). Because competition in Isfahan isn't high, so inflation is high and innovation and renovation is low since pre-1979 Revolution.
Hotels in Kerman are very few, while tourist numbers are on the rise getting out to Meymand, Bam, Rayen, Mahan, and the desert oasis of Shahdad and the Kaluts. The prices in Kerman are not as expensive as Isfahan, but the quality and selection is limited. The Kerman region is also prone to earthquakes, so renovating old houses is rather a complicated process. There are also a few bad neighborhoods affected from illegal trade from the east (read more on the UK Gov't Travel Advice).
There are a few hotels in Tabriz of reasonable quality. But the most traveled city in the north west, Tabriz is the gateway from Tehran to Turkey, Armenia, Ardabil, and the entire Azerbaijan region. So it's fair to say the best hotels are difficult to book, with most agencies booking tours to the same 3-5 hotels. Especially for El Goli Hotel and Kandovan Laleh Rocky Hotel.
If you're going to Mashhad, you're in luck, because there are many pilgrims going to Imam Reza's Holy Shrine, Tous, and Neyshapur every year. So the hotels are much more modern, competition is higher, and the prices are reasonable. Just be careful in Spring Nowruz (New Year), a large volume of Iranians, Pakistani, Afghani, and Gulf Shi'ite flock to the shrine in droves. There's good atmosphere, but the tourist crowds are huge. But the facilities around the shrine are quite remarkable and modern too.
Depending on the region and time of the year, most other cities receive less tourists so finding good hotels is generally less difficult. However there are exceptions such as Kish in Spring, Dizin in winter, and pockets along the Caspian Coast in summer and Persian Gulf in winter respectively. In addition the driving distances in Iran are quite large, so the rugged hotels between major cities can also book out quickly by travel agencies.
The travel agencies can't accept risks losing rooms, so chartering them is very common, either for early tour groups or reselling on the 'black market.' It becomes a bit of a dog fight, and for this reason most hotels require upfront cash, and hotels may even cancel reservations last minute for unexpected 'dignitaries.' How embarrassing for the online agencies! Oh well - that's Iran tourism for you.
The Iranian tourism industry has faced serious limitations for a long time regarding infrastructure, communications, regulatory norms, and personnel training. Around a decade ago:
However in recent years, tourism construction has ramped up, and hundreds of hotels, motels, guesthouses, and hotel apartments have become operational nationwide. To estimate perhaps 400 accommodation buildings are under construction nationwide at any given time, and even more undergoing renovations. Yet perhaps the bulk of construction is located around regions of highest demand such as Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad, Caspian Coast, and Persian Gulf. So mind the road works and traffic noise.
Development Shoring : Digging Deep to Build Iran's Tallest Hotel in Tehran.
The information for tourists' to compare and book Iran hotels is also very fragmented. So we at 'Searching for Iran' identified this, and as a result we've built a public website platform for travelers to compare every hotel and hostel across the country, in addition to hotel contact details. It's a public database, because if you find a missing listing you can Register It On Our Website in under 20 minutes - and it's free. We also accept Iran hotel bookings online, subject to availability.
Just keep in mind it's not just the Iran hotels constrained either, the transport access to reach many tourist destinations can also be difficult and expensive. Not to mention the US financial embargo. You can consider hiring a car, driver guide, cycle camping, or couch surfing your way through Iran with locals. So we recommend tailoring your trip with Sfiran and the other information on the internet. Otherwise searching for a quality bed when you arrive might be a nightmare compared to most European and East Asian cities.
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