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Entrance portal, Mohammed Amin Khan Madrassah
Somewhat controversially, the Mohammed Amin Khan Madrassah, just inside the west gate of the old city, has been converted during its restoration into a hotel, and this is where we stayed.
The controversy concerns whether this use of an ancient Madrassah as a hotel is appropriate. UNESCO say no, and that it should be restored to its original purity, but to be honest I can’t see that this would happen. Everywhere you go in Uzbekistan the madrassahs are in use for different purposes – museums, bazaars etc. Only a very few are still used as religious seminaries, their original role. For me, this use is no less appropriate than others, and maybe closer to the spirit of the original than some others. After all, these “hajiras”, or cells, were designed to be slept in, and the restoration hasn’t resulted in major re-design or destruction of character.
We were here with a group, but I found on a website that prices should be around $30 for a single room and $60 for a double. If this is true it is very expensive for Uzbekistan, but I suspect that this is a web-booking price and you could pay much less by contacting the hotel directly or simply turning up and bargaining. This same website also says that the rooms have air-conditioning and cable TV but we saw no signs of either – nor would we have wanted them as they would destroy the atmosphere that is the main attraction of a stay here. So although I’ve included the web-link below you should perhaps not trust its information too much ;)
Unique Qualities: As for our stay here, there are plusses and minuses to this hotel. One obvious plus is the location, just inside the old city walls. There is a stunning entrance gate which, coupled with the adjoining Kalta Minor (see things to do tip), makes this a dramatic and a romantic pace to stay. The thick walls of the cells mean they stay relatively cool in the baking heat of summer, without the need for air-conditioning. The downsides though are an erratic water supply: we could get almost nothing from our hot tap, though others in our group did better – this however is a downside I can live with in temperatures of almost 50 degrees! More of a concern for me was that the beds felt damp, possibly a natural side-effect of those same thick walls, or possibly simply due to poor airing after laundering.
Address: 1, Pachlavan Makhmud Street
Comparison: less expensive than average
Directions: Just inside the western gate to the old city, right by the Kalta Minor
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