The Best Hotels for Foodies in Tehran

Tehran Tower is an iconic landmark and symbol of the city's national importance
Tehran Tower is an iconic landmark and symbol of the city's national importance | © Mohammad Nouri / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Amar Grover
7 June 2021

Iran‘s cuisine is as diverse as the country is vast. There’s a lot of meat, of course, but you’ll find a few more options than in neighbouring countries. Flavours tend to be subtle if not mild, butter rice is ubiquitous and the best lavash, or flatbread, is served warm and fresh. In the most traditional restaurants, you may find yourself sitting shoeless and cross-legged on a divan.

Espinas International Hotel

Hotel Barge
Map View

In downtown Tehran, the glitzy high-rise Espinas melds touches of rococo and kitsch with marble and fleeting nods to the 6th-century Achaemenid Empire of Persepolis. At heart, though, it’s a modern, endearingly showy hotel. There’s an atrium cafe for teas, snacks and pastries, while Boulevard 126 features modern ‘fusion’ Iranian cuisine. The highlight is palatial Mandak, a traditional Persian restaurant with exotic arched ceilings, decorative stucco work and cushion-strewn niches with divans where you might recline with a post-meal shisha.

Espinas Palace Hotel

Hotel
Map View

In the city’s northernmost reaches at the foot of the Alborz Mountains, the huge 500-room Espinas Palace is distinguished by its prominent jutting helipad. This swanky landmark boasts large, well-equipped rooms with panoramic views across Tehran and several dining options. Sunset Cafe resembles a fully-fledged bistro, serving anything from mocktails to flavoured coffees, steaks and pizza. Laton, a banquet-like restaurant with elongated banquettes, is dedicated to modern Iranian and international cuisine, while Diba focuses on traditional Persian fare in rather more opulent and romantic surroundings.

Persian Plaza Hotel

Luxury, Hotel
Map View

Wedged among humdrum apartment blocks like a rose between two thorns, the Plaza stands in the Abbas Abad neighbourhood, northeast of the centre. A stately entrance porch opens into a marble-floored lobby, while rooms’ are unfussy rather than opulent. The Shandiz restaurant features decorative gold scrollwork lining its walls, ceilings and arches, along with a menu spanning Persian favourites, patisserie, pizza and shakes. There’s a range of iced coffees, too.

Raamtin Hotel

Hotel Barge, Boutique Hotel
Map View

A little south of pretty Saei Park, in the Yousef Abad quarter, the Raamtin’s ultra-modern glass facade has a faintly boutique vibe. Accommodation ranges from doubles to suite apartments with kitchens, all on the larger side. While the café serves breakfast plus standard Persian and international fare, the wood-panelled European-inspired Bistango restaurant – reputedly the city’s first foray into haute cuisine – has an extensive menu ranging from filet mignon to red snapper, shrimp ceviche and bone-marrow bruschetta.

Niloo Hotel

Boutique Hotel
Map View

In the city’s northern reaches near Nowrooz Park, the Niloo’s unassuming facade hides sumptuous interiors. The lobby is glitzy, with gilt-edged furniture and classical-looking busts. Accommodation varies considerably from sober ‘executive’ rooms to colourful scarlet and fern-green doubles and suites with coffered ceilings and purely decorative stucco-like reliefs. Breakfast comprises a considerable fresh fruit spread and classic Turkish cooked options.

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  • Parsian Azadi Hotel

    Hotel
    Map View

    On the city’s northern edge, near the International Exhibition Centre, this huge, rather functional-looking skyscraper boasts modern swanky interiors with nearly 500 rooms ranging from singles to a presidential suite. Up on the twenty-sixth floor, with panoramic views across Tehran, the ‘Friday Lunch Buffet’ is a reliably good place for a splurge mixing Persian and western staples. Parseh restaurant serves gourmet Persian cuisine, while Kenzo offers a rare opportunity to indulge in Japanese food.

    Ferdowsi International Grand Hotel

    Hotel Barge
    Map View

    In central Tehran, near City Park, the Ferdowsi’s renovation has completely modernised and upgraded its facilities; the lobby is a striking confection of marble ‘chessboard’ floor and black ceiling dotted with bizarre pyramidal shapes. You’ll also find traditional touches, such as Persian rugs in every room. Restaurant options include the Zeitoun (for buffets); for a fun experience, the Traditional restaurant with groovy lighting, fountains and live music is a good bet.

    Taj Mahal Hotel

    Hotel
    Map View

    No, it looks nothing like the great Mughal monument – though the little ribbed cupolas perched along the modern building’s roofline pay a homage of sorts. Interiors range from clean-cut modern decor to busy Persian kitsch with gold and mirrors. Unsurprisingly, the hotel’s Indian restaurant is quite a draw for Tehran foodies and expats yearning for the subcontinent’s intense spices and flavours. An excellent alternative is Mahi Mahi, which specialises in the distinctive Gilaki cuisine from northern Iran’s Gilan Province – expect a lot of garlic seasoning.

    This is an updated rewrite of an article by Pontia Fallahi.

    These recommendations were updated on June 7, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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