Traveling anywhere isn’t without its hardships, and traveling to Iran is no exception. In Iran’s case, what makes planning a trip a hassle for those traveling independently is hotel booking.
While online hotel booking is a relatively easy and straight forward process in most countries, the service is not available in Iran and only a handful of quality hotels offer the service to those living in Iran.
This article aims to provide alternative means of booking a hotel room in Iran for those living abroad.
# 1: Hotel Booking Sites
There are websites which allow you to book a room and pay for it online with international credit or debit cards, but most of them offer rooms in luxury hotels. In other words, if you’re looking for more affordable options, such as midscale hotels and B&Bs, you have more difficulty finding your desired type of accommodation on these websites.
Furthermore, just because the reservation is made online it doesn’t mean your room has been immediately booked. More often than not, your online request is redirected to the hotel you’re hoping to stay at, which has to approve it. Once approved, the website may send you a link to the online payment portal where you can pay for the room.
The time it takes for your request to be sent to the hotel and your booking to be finalized depends on a variety of factors, including the hotel’s response time, whether or not it’s the peak travel season, and the connection between the hotel and website. These websites can be found with a simple search online.
It is worth noting that online payment is not as prevalent in Iran as one might expect. In fact, most booking websites promote their online payment service as a competitive advantage.
It may not be easy to pick the best website, but it is possible to make an educated decision. Factors that can help you decide include: The number of hotels in every city or region, available rooms in each accommodation, number of suggested hotels and alternative accommodations in an area, and room rates. Because room rates fluctuate often and prices vary according to season, check the rates often to see if they change on the website to ensure the prices are up to date.
# 2: Travel Agencies
Many Iranian travel agencies also offer hotel booking as a separate service. Get in touch with them via phone or email to get more information.
With regards to payment, because travel agencies are privately-owned you may be able to use your credit card to book a room by transferring the funds to the owner of the agency’s bank account outside Iran. If that is not an option, however, you can arrange to pay the agency in cash upon your arrival in Iran.
# 3: Booking Counter at Airports
You probably shouldn’t count on finding vacancies in top hotels if you are traveling to Iran in April, May and October due to the sheer number of international events, including conferences and exhibitions, in major cities.
Aside from these months, you may be able to book a room at a four- or five-star hotel at one of the main international airports, such as Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, Mashahd’s Hashemi Nejad Airport and Shahid Beheshti in Isfahan.
Most quality hotels have a booking counter in these airports, but this method is only recommended for those who had little time to plan their trip.
If your preferred hotel doesn’t have a representative at the airport, no need to fret! Travel companies at the airport might be able to help you but getting a room this way may take slightly longer.
# 4: Emailing the Hotel
Your next option is to get in touch with your chosen hotel and book a room directly. Iranian hotels are aware that foreign travelers cannot pay for their booking, so they’re used to receiving payments later. It generally takes between 24 and 48 hours for hotels to reply to emails.
If you’re making reservations for a large group, you might be able to get a group discount, so it might be a good idea to get in touch with both the head of reservations and the marketing manager.
To find a hotel’s email, you’ll have better luck searching for it online on Google or other search engines. Not all Iranian hotels are listed on Tripadvisor but most of them (especially four- and five-star ones) have websites. Also, some Tripadvisor features like contact number and email address are not accessible for Iranian hotels.
If you don’t receive a reply to your email after a couple of days, send it again. Hotels receive lots of emails and there’s always a chance that some emails get lost in the pile.
Finally, once your booking is made, contact the hotel a week before your arrival to re-confirm your reservation.
# 5: Calling the Hotel Directly
Finally, you can pick up the phone and call the hotel directly. The reason this wasn’t mentioned earlier is because the reservations office may not be open 24/7.
In addition, Iran’s time zone is +3:30 GMT which may make calling inconvenient if you live in a vastly different time zone.
Taking into account the work hours and typical break times in Iran, it’s best to call between 10:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 16:00 local time (06:30 to 08:30 and 11:30 to 13:30 GMT). Thursday is a half-day and Friday is the weekend.
Please bear in mind that Iran practices daylight savings time; i.e. the clock is moved forward by an hour on March 21 and moved back by an hour on September 23 (dates may vary by a day from year to year).
Iran’s country code is 0098 and some cities’ codes are as follows: Tehran: (+98) 21; Isfahan: (+98) 311; Shiraz: (+98) 711.
A variety of factors, from lack of access to the online global banking system to a shortage of rooms, have made booking a room in Iran cumbersome for the foreign travelers. However, this article hopes to have simplified the process for you by providing you with instructions by which you can (relatively) easily book a room.
- This post has been originally written in Persian.
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