Hacking your way to book a hotel room in Iran

July 13, 2019 - 21:32

TEHRAN – In spite of U.S. trade and economic sanctions, it still seems easy to get the best hotel deal for your stay in Iran.

No matter you are a first-time traveler or an experienced backpacker, the truth is that, unlike most travel destinations, you may face limited options for booking online.

Through a simple Google search rows of different results will pop up, however, the problem arises out of international credit cards and online payment services like PayPal that don’t work with Iran.

In a recent article, Iranian Students’ News Agency has offered ways to easily secure your accommodation by prior arrangement. ISNA’s recommendations are given in what follows:

Book a hotel in Iran through websites

During your slightly successful Google research on how to book a hotel in Iran, you might come across some Iranian websites providing accommodation and lodging services. What they actually do is to reserve a room for you anywhere in Iran, instead of booking one like every other website, and take care of everything else until you arrive. As for the payment, everything is just straightforward. You can pay for the reservation after your check-in and see that if the reserved room is up to your standards or not. Pretty easy, right? For even more convenience, hotels accept currencies like Dollar or Euro, so don't change all your money when you enter Iran and keep some of it in your pocket. (Through travel websites like 1stQuest you can pay online with your credit card) But why do hotels don't mind getting paid in other currencies?

Well, right now USD and EUR dominate the domestic currency market in Iran with a soaring steep, automatically converting the current market into a total mess. So, as you can see, taking Rials (Iran's official currency) comes at high risk for business owners dealing with tourists and foreigners.

The thing to remember is that, this kind of reservation can be canceled at any time by any side. It's a verbal agreement and sometimes they can go terribly wrong. For this reason, we recommend checking with the website one last time before you get on a plane to Iran. Having an Iranian friend or reading review tourism websites like TripAdvisor can help you too. There is another way to book your Iran hotels online. Read more about it in the next section.

Book a hotel in Iran through travel agencies

If you find it hard to do everything on your own, then you should dump it all on Iranian tourism agencies. The way they help you book Iran hotels which is pretty simple and straightforward. For example, you go onto the website like 1stquest.com, put the city you want (for example if you want to search for Abbasi hotel type Isfahan in the city section) to travel to and the duration of your stay in the assigned search boxed and with no sweat you're presented with a long list of hotels and hostels. 1stQuest sets different filters and price ranges for different types of travel styles.

This way you don't need to worry about your reservation getting canceled by the website, you can get a clear image of a hotel, and read users comments and reviews.

Book a hotel in Iran through calls or emails

Talk about nostalgia, right? It's probably a decade from the last time you sent an email to a hotel for a room. As fun as it sounds, sending an email takes a lot of time which in today's world nobody wants to spare, especially if the receiver is a hotel in Iran. Let's just put it this way, Iranian hotels don't do well with emails. Based on the reviews given by TripAdvisor users, it takes hotels at least two days to respond to an email, luxury amount of time a tourist on the clock can't spare. We suggest that for a quick answer, you pick up the phone and just call the hotel.

Usually, accommodation centers in Iran work around the clock and even in the night hours, they have somebody ready to answer calls.

However, to be on the safe side and successfully book a hotel in Iran via phone, try calling during morning or evening hours which are the busiest time of day. FYI, Iran’s time zone is +3:30 GMT.

Booking counter at Iran’s international airports

Most of the gigantic international airports in Iran have booking counters straight outside the gates ready to help you book a hotel in Iran. It is really a relief seeing one these boards at the airport for you no longer need to worry about a lodging spot. This is a viable option for tourists who didn’t have time to plan their trip to Iran and just want to get it over with. Some of the big names have permanent counters at airports like Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport and are ready to book you a room in a matter of minutes but keep in mind that these disks are closed after hours and also, don’t expect to find a specific counter for hostels or guesthouses in Iran.

Hospitality services like Couchsurfing

This is not a solution of how to book a hotel in Iran per se but it can surely come in handy for tourists with tight schedules. Although applications like Airbnb doesn’t recognize Iran as a country suitable for its services and thus having too few Iranian users but Couchsurfing is growing by the day in Iran. Couchsurfing is immensely popular and widely used in Iran to find free accommodations for incoming tourists. If you browse Couchsurfing for information about Iran, it might shock you finding so many Iranian users active on the app. Iranians registered in this app can help you find and book a hotel in Iran and often they will stay in touch until you have a roof over your head. With Couchsurfing and its exceptional Iranian users, finding a hotel in Iran is easy peasy. However, it's understandable if some tourists put less faith in free social hospitality applications like this one.

Ask taxi drivers!

Iranian people are genuinely nice and welcoming people, even the taxi drivers. It doesn’t matter if you arrive in night or day, at a land border or at an airport, these taxi drivers will always have an answer for your accommodation problem and do absolutely everything in their power so you find and book a hotel. Most of the times, they know a nearby hotel or somebody who knows somebody else who is a hotel owner and might even give you a discount on the room. Keep in mind that this is your last option when all other hope is lost. However, many tourists traveling independently and without any previous knowledge of the country, put their faith in the taxi drivers to help them book a hotel in Iran. This may sound like a hard way but even asking Iranian taxi drivers for hotel recommendation is a pleasant experience you will never forget.