The toilets and bathrooms were segregated into male and female, and were worthy of a five star hotel. There were four showers and five toilets and they were beautifully clean with gleaming restored marble. The first night I used the shower, there was only a trickle of water, but it seems I was just unlucky with my choice of cubicle, as everyone else reported plenty of water. Towels were provided in each ‘room’.
The nest morning there was a power cut, which meant that there was no water either, so no shower for us then. Ewers with water were provided for each bathroom and guests were requested not to flush the toilets.
Even the bedrooms have a character all of their own. Behind the inner courtyard is a circular corridor which goes all around the back of the caravanserai. The rooms are raised platforms behind a curtain. Three steps lead to the platform and the beds are two mattresses on the platform floor. There are proper duvets and the mattresses are surprisingly comfortable. Next to the beds was a small area where you could store your bags. That was it! Whoever was sleeping on the inside had to scrawl over the person on the outside to get out. Yes, you can hear the other guests snoring during the night and getting up to use the bathroom, but it didn’t bother us too much. It was well worth it for the experience.
The dining room is like it’s taken straight out of 1001 Arabian Nights. It is breathtaking. Low, soft lights, Persian rugs, starched white tablecloths, brass samovars and classic arches. Such a fabulous atmosphere. I doubt very much if this is what it looked like during the Safavid period when the travellers on the Silk Road stayed here. I doubt if they enjoyed such luxury, but it is easy to let your imagination carry you away and take you back to that period.
From the small entrance hall, you walk in to the large central courtyard. In the centre is a small raised platform surrounded by a pool akin to a moat. All around the courtyard are arched doorways leading to various rooms associated with the hotel, including some bedrooms. Everything here is filled with symbolism:
One courtyard / one caravanserai = One God
Twelve sides to the pool = the Twelve Imams
Five sides to the Caravanserai = Prophet Mohammad, Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussain.
After dark, the courtyard was beautifully and atmospherically lit with electric lights hidden behind terracotta vases. Very tastefully done.
The entrance is very low key, as would be suitable for a fortress. There is a small wooden door, which in fact is really quite narrow – I struggled to get myself and my bag through it. Once you come through the door though, it is like stepping into another world. Oriental carpets, glossy marble and low lighting – the hallway oozes charm and exoticism. There is no reception desk as such, only what you see in the photo. The whole thing is very casual and a taste of things to come.
The hotel at Zeyn-od-Din, is a tastefully restored caravanserai from the Safavid Period, some 400 years ago. This is where travellers on the Silk Road may have stopped off with their camels and their goods to trade in Europe. Twice it has been voted the best restored monument in the World for sustainability. The hotel manager has been renting the caravanserai from Cultural Heritage to run as a hotel for four or five years now. The building is classed as a National Monument. The hotel can accommodate up to 30 people.
It was amazing to arrive at the caravanserai – the road leading to this place was desolate and there is nothing for miles around. Then you see it in the distance, an imposing fortress standing proud in the desert with the backdrop of the Zagros Mountains. It really is a stunning setting.
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