We made it back to Tehran for a few days to take care of some business and this time stayed at Firouzeh Hotel (http://www.firouzehhotel.com/language_english/Facilities.htm
) as mentioned in an earlier blog. Lonely Planet really missed the ball on this one by leaving it out of their guide. Firouzeh was clean, as were (most importantly) the shared bathrooms, all of which also had a Western-style toilet (something not mentioned on Firouzeh's site).
We got a special deal for $10 per night which was a steal, but even at the standard $16 per night it's a bargain. The rooms were clean, shower had good water pressure and always had hot water. The hotel was quiet in general. Breakfast was included and was fantastic, including some cheese from northern Iran which was sharp and delicious. Some people stay elsewhere but come to Firouzeh for breakfast because it's cheap and delicious.
Finally, Mr. Mousavi, who runs the place day to day was very kind and helpful. He's got the low down on everything to see and do and will hook you up with whatever you need. Oh, there's also a "coffee net", meaning internet access which they plan to expand beyond their current one machine. A great guest book has lots of tips and tricks from visitors worldwide.
(The entrance to the Tehran metro at Imam Khomeini Square. The NYC subway it ain't...)
The part of town Firouzeh is located in isn't too bad for a base to explore Tehran. While it is crammed in among car parts and camping tents stores, it is close to the fantastically clean, modern, and cheap (7 cents or so per ride) Tehran metro, which can get you to most places in the city without the time and pollution of a taxi. It is also close to the massive Tehran bazar where we sadly were unable to find the bra that plays the macarena. However, friends tell us that that part of Tehran becomes incredibly smoggy during summer time. Even if true, the charms of Firouzeh make that a small sacrifice.
(Two friends and coworkers in the Tehran bazar--10 or perhaps 20 square kilometers of shopping with all the amenities of a city--restaurants, guesthouses, mosques, etc.)
The scuttlebutt is that Lonely Planet realized the error of their ways and will be including Firouzeh in their next edition...
While we forgot to take snaps of Firouzeh, we did take a picture of the delicious Indian food served at the restaurant of the Sefir Hotel, listed in Lonely Planet, and right around the back of the former (and monstrously huge) American Embassy. It was everything we had expected the Indo-Pak food at Atlas Hotel to be, but wasn't. The ambiance was great and the food, while not 100% authentic, measured up at least at 95% and was quite good. Prices are much higher than for traditional Iranian food, but that's the cost of eating foreign cuisine in Iran. In any case, it's still a bit cheaper than a comparable meal in the USA.