Isfahan, Iran

In a country of so many anodyne hotels and guest houses, Dibai House stands out for its gorgeous 17th century architecture and décor. We don’t recommend many mid-scale places in Iran, but if you’re a traveller who’s happy to trade a little luxury for heritage ambience, you’ll relish a stay in this refurbished old mansion, in the heart of the old quarter near Naqsh-e Jahan Square. Cobalt blue and yellow ochre dominate the colour schemes of its exterior, which centres on a leafy inner courtyard where you can relax in the sunshine on antique chairs. Much of the elaborate carved wood and inlay decorative work survives in the rooms, which are like something from Scheherezade, from the kilims on the floors to the painted arch ceilings. Served in a cosy, tangerine-coloured shabestan basement or al fresco in the garden, the Persian food is no less earthy and fragrant.

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