Latest posts by Mitra Gholami (see all)
Staying at Boutique Hotels of Kashan; An Experience of Iranian Lifestyle and Culture (Part 1)
Since I was terribly thrilled to visit the traditional houses of Kashan, a friend advised me to spend the night in no ordinary hotels but the boutique hotels of this beautiful small town. When I asked him why he thought boutique hotels are the better choice for me, he replied: “I know that you’ll have a lot of fun being at the heart of Iranian lifestyle and unfolding the stories kept among the walls of those traditional houses.” So, I took his advice and planned to spend the night in three different boutique hotels in Kashan for each night of my stay:
For the first night, I chose to stay in a comfortable, home-like boutique hotel. The relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the historic neighborhood surrounding Sayeh Saray Hostel had pervaded the air. I walked down the alley as I was blown away by the historic and authentic atmosphere around me. I felt I had left my personal time-space reality, and it was as if I was now living in an old picture or movie.
As I passed through the doorway, I encountered the smiles of the staff, who greeted me in an Iranian manner. The floating air featured the warm colors of coziness, friendliness, and intimacy. I checked in and moved to my room as someone kindly showed me the way. The thing is, I didn’t feel like I was accompanied by a member of the staff, but I felt that I am accompanied by a member of this house, a kind Persian hostess.
My room was on the upper floor, and it was humbly set. It was not like I had stepped into a hotel room, but more like I had gone to the room that the great grandmother of an Iranian friend had made ready for me to keep me comfortable. Before settling into the room, I peeked once more into the yard to look at the little blue basin and its perfect harmony with the blush of flowers and the beige of tiles.
The Unraveled Tales of a Nice, Comfortable Hostel
My stay at Sayeh Saray gave me the chance to dive into a living picture of this house and its members that belonged to a long time ago. What I liked the most about this traditional hostel was hearing about the customs practiced in its rooms for hundreds of years. The building includes two main rooms. The master of the house and his wife used to live in the Qajar room, while their son and his wife used to live in the other room called the Pahlavi room. This has been a custom ruling over the house for the last three hundred years. Once the master and his wife died, the young couple would move into the Qajar room, and this tradition would pass down to the next generations.
The owner of the house told me that this house is more than 300 years old, and it has been the property of a middle-class family whose job was dying cotton yarn for two centuries. She said: “Each wall and brick of this house holds on to many memories: memories from people who were walking in the narrow lane outside the door, greeted with each other and laughed at the memorable moments they had in this house. You know! Thanks to the narrow lane and the short distance between the houses, people used to sit on rooftops and easily talk to each other about their shared memories. I guess the houses were as intimate as their owner back in those old times.”
Sayeh Saray means “the House of Shadow” which is, I think, a reference to the cool air and pleasant shady place it creates during the scorching days of the summer.
I spend my second night in Sourijan Boutique Hotel, another renovated traditional house not so far from my previous lodge. This boutique hotel had surpassed the simplistic style of Sayeh Saray Hostel and reached a unique elegance in its architecture. When I passed through the doorway, I found myself on the balcony and noticed that I’m on the upper floor. The sight of the yard behind my feet among the glorious walls standing on each side was stunning. The structure of this building created a calm and cool space in the yard where you could enjoy your cup of tea as the musical notes of traditional Iranian music were invisibly floating in the air. The picture of such a pleasant evening emerged in my mind right at that moment.
Sourijan’s excellence in its gorgeous architecture and eye-catching design beholds even more wonderful surprises. I can’t wait to talk about the stories written in invisible ink all around this place, but I have to mention this bit first. One can experience the best moment of his journey on the rooftop of Sourijan Boutique hotel. Just gaze up into the sky where there are no tall buildings to block you out, particularly at night when the stars are celebrating the city’s antiquity, and you will feel tranquility with every fiber of your being.
Three Hundred Years of Tales inside Qajar Carvings and Paintings
On my late-night adventure on the roof, I was lucky to meet and drink tea with the manager of this boutique hotel. She told me that Sourijan connotes “a place for celebration” and kindly gave me a brief history of this 300-year-old structure. I learned that this house originally belonged to the Golian family for the last three centuries. So, the architectural delicacies and nuances date back to the Qajar era. She told me: “Many of the stories that this building has to say are embedded in the paintings of Qajar style on the walls. And, we were lucky enough to have Mr. Helli on board with us during the renovation work. He is one of the most brilliant architects who also participated in restoring the cultural and historical treasures of Ameriha House.”
The following day, when I woke up, I noticed myself smiling at the broken colored beams of light breaking through my tinted window panes. I must also mention that my room was neat, cozy, and perfect in every way. For breakfast, I joined everyone in a buoyant room downstairs that became one of my favorite corners in this house. Everyone gathered around big tables and laughed and drank tea together. It was as if some sort of spell in this room would present you with a genuine feeling of intimacy. I happened to connect to this place very well, but, later at noon, I checked out to move to my third destination, Saraye Ameriha, although it was difficult to say goodbye.