“ Address: Takhti Ave. / Shiraz / Iran „
During our tour of Iran in 2006 we spent two nights at the Arg Hotel in Shiraz, a lovely city with lots to see and do that was once the centre of the Persian wine industry. So if your first thought on seeing the name Shiraz was 'red wine' you'd not be wrong. This is the city that gave the wine its name. Sadly these days you won't get anything more exciting that alochol-free fruit beer but grape growing is still a big industry.
The Arg hotel was small and at times a bit basic but its location close to the bazaar and the town centre was excellent. We were happy to walk around late at night with less of a sense of nervousness than you'd expect to find in most European cities although it was in Shiraz that two of our tour group were stopped in the street by a group of young men who asked - in an entirely unthreatening way - "Do you hate us in the UK too, or is that just the Americans?". Shiraz is one of those cities that must have been a great fun place to be in the days before the current rather repressive regime took over.
The hotel is named after the local fortress, the Arg-el-Karimkhani although I liked to think that Arg is the sort of noise a pirate might make. It's a mid-sized hotel that's located on a quiet street with a lobby that opens straight off the street. The lobby is two-storey with lots of gold-coloured sofas and coffee tables and a lot of open brickwork. During check-in our tour leader went off the grab the keys whilst we all flopped on the sofas and half-watched a large TV in the corner.
Our room was in three 'zones' - a sitting area, a bedroom area and a bathroom. Several of the Iranian hotels had this sort of layout which I suspected was a way in which people could entertain their friends and families in the privacy of their rooms where the ladies would be able to remove the head-scarves and long jackets they have to wear at all times in public spaces. This also accounts for many hotels having 24 hour room service so that you can relax and partially disrobe without getting told off. All three sections of our room had natural light and radiators for heating.
The sitting area had two arm chairs, a suitcase stand, a coffee table, a TV, fridge, wardrobe and a rather nice rug. The bedroom had one double and one single bed, a small bedside table, a dressing table with a stool and rather dim lighting. The standard of the furnishings wasn't exceptional or memorable which is a nice way of saying that looking back at my travel diary I'm really struggling to picture this room in any great detail. On the plus side, you can be sure that if it was awful I'd remember every little detail of the horror. The bathroom had a loo and a bath with a shower over but the basin was in a separate place.
The breakfast room was a large bright place with plenty of food, all of it a bit on the basic side. There was bread (2 types), tomatoes and cucumbers, boiled eggs, feta-style cheese, butter, honey and (I kid you not) carrot jam and for drinks, tea and orange squash. A few of our group had eaten in the hotel the night before and said it was OK but nothing special.
On a tour like ours, there wasn't a lot of time spent in any of the hotels so the Arg was entirely fit for purpose. Clean, in good condition and with all the facilities we needed - not that we needed much. Since you are unlikely to have any choice about where you stay in Iran - as most visitors will only get in as part of a tour group - it's not as if my review will inspire people to rush off and book. However, if you do find your tour company has booked you there, be assured that you have nothing to worry about.