We used this as a transit hotel between the brand new Imam Khomeini Airport and Meherabad Airport, so the stay was relatively brief. That said I feel it warrants the effort of a review.
To set the scene, we had flown in to Imam Khomeini Airport from Dubai after an overnighter from London. Here’s a tip for anybody coming here on the 72 hour Visa. If you’re with company, one of you waits for the visa, another go and start queuing. The system here is a nightmare and a 2 of our 72 hours were wasted queuing at immigration! Imam Khomeini is an enigma in its self, a smart new airport about 30 kms from absolutely anything. Don’t go looking for a cab, there’s nothing here, absolutely nothing at all!
So, here we are, jet lagged, hot and fed up after a huge airport queue-fest. We have a 5pm flight to Yazd and about 4 hours to kill. I had previously insisted our local partners book the 3 of us into a transit hotel to get a few hours’ well-earned kip; hence we end up at the Olympic.
Attached to Tehran’s Azadi stadium, home of some major soccer matches and the occasional public hanging, stands the Olympic Hotel. Built pre revolution, it opened 4 years ago as a base for travelling sports stars, conferences and the odd weary transit passenger. Obviously aimed at an eagerly anticipated city bid to host the games, the idea quickly petered out and my guess is that it will be a while before we see the Olympics in sunny Tehran!
Its a pretty large establishment with 100 rooms staffed by typically unshaven but quite friendly Iranians. Unusually for this bureaucratically obsessed country, the check in process was pretty quick and we were allowed to depart to the rooms quickly with nothing but a signature although our passports were kept, nothing unusual there then.
The rooms were something of a revelation though. 2 level suites with comfortable settees and twin beds upstairs on an open-plan style. There is a mini bar and a colour TV availing you of Iranian chat shows, prayers and BBC World. The place was clean and well kept although the walls were badly cracked. The beds were clean and comfortable and a few hours rest was easily achieved. The shower was clean and thankfully, the water was hot!
There are 3 restaurants and a tea house elsewhere in the hotel, we didn’t use them but they looked clean, the menu although unseen would no doubt consist of a variety of kebabs and rice, they all do!
It was a short stay here but definitely not a bad one, although they did kill us for 70 bucks for a 3-hour stay! Usual rate is $95 so they were proud of the generous discount offered.
I’ve visited Tehran on a number of occasions in the last few years and all the hotels are much of a much ness, similar quality and similar rate. In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, so in that sense, the Olympic is not a bad bet. Its easily accessible from Imam Khomeini and quick to get to Meherabad so functionally, the Olympic represents a pretty useful transit hotel. Can’t really imagine spending my holidays here though…