Having had two wonderful experiences in Sayeh Saray Hostel and Sourijan Boutique Hotel respectively, I was now terribly excited about my third destination, Saraye Ameriha Boutique Hotel. Till then, I could never think of such stories lying underneath the bricks in a structure. History had written distinguished scripts for each of these places, and I was ready now to unfold another tale.
Saraye Ameriha Boutique Hotel; Noble and Magnificent
I was totally caught by surprise within the first steps I took in this residential complex. The stunning architecture and all that grandeur gathered in that building left me awe-stricken. Besides, everything in the hotel was in perfect order, even among the staff. They were in elegant uniforms: The men wore suits and women wore white and blue coats. The rooms were clean, spacious, and comfy. Many of them placed on the upper floor grant you a breathtaking view through the courtyard, especially at night.
Eager to pursue my tell-tale adventure in this magnificent hotel, I met Mr. Nazemi, the manager, and Mr. Behnia, the hotel’s front desk manager. Later, I found out that this hotel is a national heritage, and the Revenue Operation is done under the government’s supervision provided that the historical identity of the work is not damaged. They are been here since the opening day in 2013. Mr. Nazemi said: “Back then, I began my job as the front desk manager, and I was later promoted to my present position.”
Qajar kings as Saham-o-saltaneh
This significant house belonged to Kashan’s former ruler, titled by the Qajar kings as Saham-o-saltaneh 300 years ago. He was a powerful and influential figure due to his significant role in ruling and protecting Iran’s central desert and the historic Silk Road, the main artery through which Iran’s economy pulsed back then. As one of the largest residences of Iran at that time, it comprises seven courtyards and buildings. Designed with marvelous architecture and delicacies, the exterior mansion is dedicated to the governor’s formal meetings; while, the interior mansion embodies a warmer atmosphere for the family members.
Saham-o-saltaneh‘s heirs actually added the buildings around these two central mansions, including the staff and the security guards’ residences. Ibrahim Khalil Khan was his last descendant who was reputed for his generosity among the Kashan people and died in 1950. He added three other buildings to the complex for his three daughters. During the Pahlavi Era, the family lost their traditional grip on power, and consequently, his wife and three daughters deserted the house and went abroad after his death. Unfortunately, this led to the destruction of the house. In the following years, many parts of the building have been destroyed in search of hidden treasures.
The restoration story
The labor and efforts underlying this project were admirable. The significance of this splendid building is highlighted through the renovation work. He continued that the building was finally rescued in 1990 when the Cultural Heritage Organization recognized this building as one of the national heritages and bought it from the heiress of Ibrahim Khalil Khan. Later, the government decided to hand the renovation project to Ezam holding, and in 1998, a group of famous Iranian architects started the renovation work.
Finally, in 2013, this five-star boutique hotel was opened with 38 rooms, 2 cafés, 2 restaurants, art galleries, a conference room, and all the high-quality facilities. This renovation project was exciting to me since it was an accurate model of restoring delicate architectural details. This pioneering project’s resulting success and quality inspired many other restoration projects of the historic buildings throughout the country.
Walking through memory lane
Mr. Nazemi then introduced me to Mr. Chalak, who was the communication officer in the hotel who told me that he has tried to gather all the details and existing documents on the ruler’s family, the history behind every section of this grand house, and the renovation project. He is the perfect person to take you on a detailed tour of this residential complex.
Starting with the two central courtyards and the five surrounding ones, we found out that three of them were named after the three daughters of Ibrahim Khalil Khan, Touran, Khorshid, and Iran. The most fascinating part of this adventure was a remote part of the house in the basement. It turned into a beautiful café that was privileged to have a calm atmosphere brought in by the wind towers, one of the genius instances in Iranian architecture in arid areas. Mr. Chalak led us into the corridor at the rear of the basement, and we were all surprised to find ourselves within a hidden room.
The Hidden Room
“It was built to shelter the house’s master and his family in times of emergency or danger.” Said Mr. Chalak and then drew our attention to the short window at the corner. This weirdly short window led to another corridor and a second hidden room, the last safe shelter in the house. It is also connected to a long scary tunnel dug 12 meters below the ground that ran to the outer walls of Kashan. Discovering it felt like being in one of those adventurous Hollywood thrillers, but this time it was real and not fabricated.
A 5 stars hotel in Kashan
The labor and efforts underlying this project were admirable, the significance of this splendid building is highlighted through the renovation work. The building was finally rescued in 1990 when the Cultural Heritage Organization recognized this building as one of the national heritages and bought it from the heiress of Ibrahim Khalil Khan.
In 2013, Saraye Ameriha Boutique Hotel was opened as a five-stars hotel with 38 rooms, 2 cafés, 2 restaurants, art galleries, a conference room, and all the high-quality facilities. This renovation project was really interesting to me since it was an accurate model of restoring delicate architectural details.
Hopes and Wishes for 2020
For the last event of the day, we went to one of the courtyards where we saw two boiling pots. One dedicated to making Iranian pomegranate paste, which was picked from the surrounding gardens. The other one was boiling to make the cinnamon extract.
Following the Iranian tradition, Mr. Chalak said that everyone can come forward and express three wishes out loud while pouring three handfuls of cinnamon in the pot. I remember that one lady stepped forward and prayed for the success of her daughters. A young couple prayed for becoming parents, having a baby, and praying for economic improvement. Almost everyone wished for the health of the people of the world and their protection against Covid19. The tour ended as we sat together and drank cinnamon syrup. It was an exceptional experience to hear people making their wishes favor the communities and their own personal needs while respecting their traditional customs. Moreover, it was accompanied by friendly chats and funny moments that made the night truly memorable.