6 Breathtaking Places for a Getaway in Iran

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Venture to its very heart.

You can forget about finding ultra-luxe digs and yoga retreats here – world-class lodgings are still hard to come by in Iran, thanks to years of isolation and the termination of international hotel contracts after the 1979 revolution. In 2016, the government announced 125 new luxury hotels will be built in the coming years but, until then, we’ve found a few that are worth your time and dime.

Espinas Palace Hotel, Tehran
The country’s latest five-star hotel was built in 2015 and takes its decor influences from traditional Iranian design, while offering all the mod-cons you expect, whether for business or an Insta-friendly holiday – think WiFi, a DVD library and attentive concierge services. It’s the first in what is set to be an onslaught of luxury hotels opening in Tehran in the near future.

Abbasi Hotel, Isfahan
Originally built more than 300 years ago to host caravansary – travellers – Abbasi (pictured above) is part-hotel, part-museum; 150 local artists played a part in restoring this gilded paean to Islamic art and culture. An oasis in central Isfahan, a buzzing metropolis, this hotel may not offer all the perks of your regular five-star hotel (nary a Nespresso machine to be seen), but what it lacks in modernity, it more than makes up for in old-school style. Take lunch in the Abbasi’s garden before setting out to see historic mosques and gardens, as well as the nearby ‘Fire Temple’ archaeological complex.

Turkmen Ecolodge, Golestan National Park
It may not feature plunge pools and spa menus, but what this ecolodge lacks in eco-chic, it more than makes up for in character. Set in a historic clay house, the beds feature native-made mattresses and antique furniture, as well as panoramic views of the surrounding Golestan National Park. Try and shotgun the yurt in summer, and listen out for the Persian leopards, brown bears and wolves that call the national park home. Spend your days trekking on foot or horse, and learn how the local Turkmen tribe lived back in the day.

Laleh Kandovan International Rocky Hotel, Kandovan
In the ancient village of Kandovan, dwellings were carved into volcanic rock more than 800 years ago. One of these cave-houses has been turned into a hotel with 16 rooms and suites – some with a jacuzzi. Surprisingly comfortable, these stone structures are similar to those found in the more famous Turkish town of Cappadocia, but without the hordes of tourists. Looking for a more authentic experience? Try your luck and knock on a local’s door – if you chance upon the right one, you might just get to stay the night, for much cheaper than the hotel.

Shiraz Grand Hotel, Shiraz
Built into the side of a large rock, this hotel offers up excellent views of the city of Shiraz. Thought to have first settled around 2,000BC, Shiraz is (almost) as old as the hills, and known as the birthplace of Persian culture. The Shiraz Grand Hotel is about as luxe as it gets in Iran, with Iranian interiors; many rooms having balconies that look down upon the city, which is chock-full of gardens, ornate mosques and colourful bazaars.

Ferdowsi International Grand Hotel, Tehran
The interior design may be a bit hard on the eyes, but the location of the Ferdowsi International Grand Hotel more than makes up for it in tasteful interiors. Stroll to the nearby Grand Bazaar to pick up a Persian carpet or locally made jewellery – and don’t forget to haggle, it’s a must in this 10 kilometre labyrinth. We’re also huge fans of the hotel’s free minibar, and we’d recommend checking in to the Royal Suite (mainly) for the jacuzzi.

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