Lifestyle & Travel

May 1, 2017

The Persian Fairy-Tale

The most romantic way to spend beautiful spring days is seeing blossoming Persia. The best months of spring in Iran are April and May. It's the most joyful time, when all the trees are covered by blooming buds, the air is fresh and chilly, the ground sometimes washed by rains.

For sure, this wonderful idea of spending a couple of spring weeks in Iran wouldn't occur to you only. The tourism of this Persian country keeps growing despite all the economic adversity – last year it was visited by 5.2 million people and, in the year 2017, much more are expected to come.

This place is the ancient city of Esfahan, Islamic Republic of Iran. Among many historical wonders located there (some of them are UNESCO's World Heritage sites), one stands out – the Abbasi hotel, built some 320 years ago under the Safavid dynasty, reign of Shah Sultan Husayn. Besides being a four-star hotel, with over 200 rooms and suites, it represents a unique tourist attraction.

The Historical Background

Shah Sultan Husayn, the last of the Safavids, built it as a caravanserai for merchants, their camels and horses, traveling the ancient Silk Road, and dedicated the building to his mother. It is also known as Madar-Shah-Caravanserai (the Caravanserai of the Shah's Mother, in English).

During the reign of the Safavid Dynasty and at the times of Afghan invasion into Esfahan, the construction was considerably damaged. It was reconstructed later, during the reign of Cadzharah and a garrison of cavalry was located there.

Decades have passed, and the centuries-old hotel had started to fall into despair. For a while, the building even served as a warehouse of sugar. Fortunately, in the 1950s, a French archaeologist, Andre Godard, took initiative to restore it and, by 1966, the best artisans of that time, worked hard to have it totally reconstructed, having recovered its original structure and purpose: a hotel.

Today the hotel features 231 rooms, including 23 suites called in honour of architectural pearls of Esfahan, three magnificent restaurants and a few coffee-shops distributed among two wings – the old wing, with traditional trace and splendid Persian décor; and the new wing, with modern design. The hotel is famous for its fantastic views over the city, which can be enjoyed from its roof. Besides, one can enjoy its astonishing garden with channels and fountains, traditional tea-house and the ancient manuscripts museum. More than 150 world-known celebrities were hosted in the Abbasi Hotel and its owners are going to soon publish a book about this.

The Hotel Rooms

The Abbasi may not have an abundance of modern amenities. There are no state-of-the-art gym or in-room cappuccino machines (although it does have great Wi-Fi), but that adds to its charm.

Guests who get to stay in the old wing, especially the Qajar and Safavid suites, are in for a treat. These rooms have been superbly restored and decorated in an elegant traditional style without being overloaded.

The magnificent Safavid Suite: arguably, the most stunning room in the hotel. The two-bedroom Safavid Suite was inspired and named after one of the most significant dynasties in Iranian history. The perfect combination of plaster work, wall paintings, vaulted ceilings and fancy illumination with a big crystal chandelier reigning in the middle, transfer us to the unique atmosphere of ancient Persia.

The Qajar Suite is a double suite featuring Qajar architectural design, its colourful painted walls and incomparable scenery of the hotel garden providing an atmosphere of an Asian fairy-tale.

The spacious Paradise Suite features more contemporary yet stylish design, fantastic view to the hotel garden and a full range of accommodating facilities. All, at about $350 a night.

The Halls

The Abbassi Hotel has eight halls, or picturesque conference rooms.

Abbasi (or Abbasid) Hall is the most magnificent hall of the collection. On the cover of the ceiling and body of the entrance to the hall emblazoned with the art of kupburi (i.e. embossed work) and laminated work, can be seen the miracle of the Isfahani artists. The uniform patterns repeated on the gold sheets of the walls and ceiling depict the glory of art and beauty on the body of the building. In the hall, too, wooden muqarnas, i.e. stalactite work and tung buri, i.e. fine, varied carafe-engraved work on the ceiling, create a dome of colors and lights above the heads of the attendants. The mural and ceiling gold sheets fine brush-painted on the margins, too, give the hall a dazzling and eye-soothing beauty. With sufficient room for 550 people, Abbasi Hall has this far been hosting major national and global events, accommodating for hours a multitude of distinguished guests from across the globe, recognizing the unchallenged beauty of the hall.

The Aliqapu Hall is inspired by the music room in Aliqapu Palace. The hall is small yet magnificent. The collection of ornaments including plaster work, paintings and qatarbandi (typically an artistic representation of a character repeated infinitely), accompanied by miniature works have converted the small four walls of the hall to a wide zone of the most artistic Iranian designs. Tung buri on the muqarnas, can be seen as an unparalleled instance of the Iranian work in the last century. The hall accommodates a maximum of 30 people and, thanks to its unique dimensions, is used for special ceremonial feasts.

The Restaurants and the Garden

Abbasi Hotel has six restaurants, including a coffee shop, traditional teahouse and breakfast hall serving both traditional Iranian and European cuisine.

Chehelsotoun Restaurant is one of six dining options in Abbasi Hotel. It is covered with murals in both Safavid and Qajar styles and decorated with chandeliers and lanterns. Sitting up to 400 diners, Chehelsotoun's chairs are modelled after a throne depicted in stone carvings in Persepolis, an ancient city and world heritage site in Iran.

Cheshmandaz Restaurant; from this point above, you can see the entire city. Standing in the open space of Cheshmandaz Restaurant located on the roof of the hotel, you can have a 360-degree view of Isfahan. Hosting 250 guests, the courtyard eatery is famous for an Iranian dish called Ash-e Reshteh, a thick type of noodle soup filled with all types of beans and herbs.

The large, beautiful, well-maintained Persian garden, complete with little fountains, brook-lined avenues, bright flower beds and quince-laden trees offers the visitor freshness and tranquillity. People spend their time drinking tea, reading a book or just hiding away from the hustle and bustle of the city in this oasis.

Staying in the older hotel in Iran and one of the oldest in the world, is sure to provide you with the unforgettable summer experience memories of which will accompany its lucky guests along their lives.

Contacts: * * Esfahan St. Amadegah, International Hotel Abbasi *

Tel: 031-32226010-19 * Fax: 031-32226008 * Mailbox 191/81465 

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