After a relatively short drive down the road from Tehran towards Kashan, I was happy to seek the stories I destined to hear. It was ideal for planning my journey by discovering the words hidden in historic structures and buildings, hearing tales, and old memories of people. I chose two traditional houses that had both history and friendly accommodation. Today, our story highlights Sayeh Saray Hostel and Sourijan Boutique Hotel, and we will dive into 300 years of history.
Sayeh Saray Hostel; Humble and Friendly
Kashan impresses me with its particular calmness and tranquility, which I found in its historic district. Located among these historical structures was also the place I had chosen to spend the first night, Sayeh Saray Hostel. The authenticity that I could feel in this neighborhood was mostly in debt to the governmental laws of preserving historical buildings and architectural heritage in the city.
Having walked through the narrow brick alley, I finally found myself at the traditional door of the hostel. As soon as I knocked at the door, I was confronted with the warm smile of a woman who welcomed me in the traditional Persian manner. I checked in, and Ms. Razzaghi took me to my room with the same radiant smile.
The hostel has two main sections: the Qajar room and the Pahlavi room. The master of the house and his wife lived in the Qajar room while the Pahlavi room located to the residence of their wedded son and his bride. Later when the elders die, the young couple moves to the Qajar room. It has been the custom of the family for many generations. These familial relationships and their importance in the Persian culture were interesting to me.
300 years old home
I had the honor to meet the owners of Sayeh Saray to learn more about the hostel, Mr. Toghani, who owns the house with his wife (Mrs. Azadah) and a partner. They were telling me the reason this place has a sentimental value to them, “I have been walking through the narrow alleys of this neighborhood ever since I remember.
This hostel is the result of a 300-year-old house building going under the process of renovation. It belonged to the Golkar family for more than two centuries. A middle-class family who are known for their craft of dying cotton yarn used in carpet weaving.” Mr. Toghani said. He also said that his mother had rooftop chatterings with Mrs. Golkar in the evenings. The alley is only about 3-4 meters, so people could have friendly gatherings as they were sitting on the rooftops. He also told me about the wedding ceremony held in these two neighboring houses and sent me a few pictures of his grandparents’ wedding ceremony.
Azadeh then told me the story of her husband’s parents, who lived next door. “Iranian wedding ceremonies traditionally held in two houses: one for men and the other for women.” By that time, I was eagerly thinking of generations living among these walls and all the memories these structures witnessed.
New Home for Travelers!
Azadeh, the hostel manager, graduated from translating English and had a master of Tourism Planning. In 2015, she persuaded her husband to buy this house from the 90-year wife of the late Mr. Golkar.
They then named it Sayeh Saray, which means “House of Shadow” in Farsi, to highlight its blissful advantage during the hot, long summer days. They turned it into a hostel with six rooms and accommodated 15 guests. They opened the hostel in 2017 and received warm ovations and great feedback from their customers since then. The friendly historical space of Sayeh Saray Hostel recreates the living pictures of a middle-class family, living here more than 200 years ago.
Sourijan Boutique Hotel; Elegant and Cozy
For the second night, I decided to stay in Sourijan Boutique Hotel, nestled in a traditional neighborhood with the same name. Through locals, I learned that Sourijan means “a place of celebration,”; so I was more eager to discover the stories left behind the walls of this building. After 50 meters of walking in the narrow beige alley, I rang the bell, and the same welcoming process took place.
Having passed through the corridor, I was surprised to find myself on the hotel’s second-floor balcony. There I stood as I was wondering about this innovative architecture and glancing at the pond nestling in the courtyard. Later, when I enjoyed the mixture of my teacup and the traditional music that had filled the yard, I asked one of my friends who had carried out Iranian historical architecture studies. He told me that providing more space, this type of structure grants a calm, excellent shelter from the sun to the courtyard and a nice view of the night sky and the city to the rooftop. Another interesting feature that caught my attention was the buildings’ harmonious height as if they were all obeying some standard.
Therefore, no building or structure disturbs your view of the skyline, and the only higher forms are the minarets of old mosques and the wind catchers. The architectural delicacies in this traditional house were adorable to the eyes. Everything was particular harmony, even those beams of light that had broken their way into the colored glasses of the window of my room. Besides the architectural charms, the hotel’s facilities and services are in order, clean, and neat. The cozy room in which the breakfast served was one of my favorite spots in the hotel.
From 300 years ago, to date
I met with a nice, kind-hearted lady who managed this place. As we were sitting in the cafe-like space on the rooftop, Ms. AliAghayi told me about her academic background and how she walked all her way to this present position she has. Having a B.A. degree in hotel management and her M.A. degree in business management, she started her job in Saraye Ameriha in 2013.
“Sourijan Boutique hotel was officially opened in November 2019 with eight rooms, but the building had originally been the house of the Golian family for 300 years.” Said she in her gentle voice. Thus, this house has many precious marks and delicate paintings of the Qajar style on its walls dating back to the Qajar era. Fortunately, many of these precious treasures preserved and restored through Mr. Helli’s skills, A famous architect whose skill in the renovation projects of historic houses has many unique showcases, including the Ameriha House that I’ll talk about in a separate story. I was amazed to see his skills and dedication to preserve this building’s historical and cultural identity.
Cozy night in Sourijan Boutique Hotel
Spending the rest of the night on a cozy rooftop and the courtyard, I wondered about those historic houses I’m seeing; some turned into a tourism attraction, or a local residency, while others were falling into ruins with all their stories. The night carved in my heart with the building’s artistic lighting, the sound of the pouring water in the small pond of the courtyard, and the full moon in the sky above me.