This rich merchant’s palace located within the old town of Bukhara is a must see for travelers, and as an added bonus, you can stay here too! By far the best hotel experience we’ve had traveling for three years in Uzbekistan, the Hovli Poyon palace dates from the 19th century, but has modern renovated rooms, comfortable beds, plentiful hot water, even free wifi. Bukhara isn’t lacking for options when looking for accommodation, but few choices offer visitors the chance to stay in both a historic and comfortable place when exploring this endlessly fascinating silk road city.
Travelers who have also visited the Bukhara Ark and the Emir’s Summer Palace will immediately recognize similarities with the design and architectural style of Hovli Poyon. The hotel’s history page indicates that the palace was originally built by an influential 19th century merchant named Urganchi as his family residence.
When the palace was completed, the Emir of that time, Seid Abdul-Ahad Khan, was of course invited to the festivities. He was so impressed, that when expressing his admiration for the property to Urganchi, he mentioned that a house of such quality is only worthy of an Emir. While this may have simply been a genuine compliment of the splendid architecture and workmanship, Urganchi took the Emir’s comments seriously, and immediately replied: “Your highness, this house I did not build for my own purpose, all this beauty was erected in your honor, for you alone”.
Protocol of course dictated that the Emir couldn’t possibly turn down such a gift. In response, Emir Abdul-Ahad Khan bestowed upon Urganchi great honors and lavish gifts, including his own robe and jewels. Hovli Poyon was proclaimed to be the official lower city residence of the Emir, second only to the Ark.
During the reign of the last Emir of Bukhara, Seyyid Mir Mohammed Alim Khan, ownership of the Hovli Poyon palace passed to the Emir’s Minister of the Interior, Djanmirza-Kush-Begi. The palace likely entertained foreign dignitaries during this tumultuous time in the history of the Emirate, which was a Russian protectorate up until the Bolshevik Revolution. With the establishment of the Bukharan People’s Soviet Republic in 1920, the palace entered a period of decline that lasted until after Uzbek independence.
Renovations were carried out between 1998 and 2015 resulting in immaculate modern rooms and first class facilities. During our visit for five nights in October 2017, we had the pleasure of staying in room number 11 on the second floor near the back of the courtyard. Beautiful wood floors, tasteful decorations, and the most comfortable bed we have ever experienced in our three years traveling around Uzbekistan. With an individual AC unit in the room with full control, and shutters on the windows for extra privacy, it felt as if we were special guests of the Emir.
Breakfast is served in the former winter dining room. Ceilings with intricate restorations to original maqarnas on the spectacular vaulted ceilings add to the 19th century Bukharan ambiance. The tapchan area in the courtyard was perfect for getting work done or just relaxing, with tea upon request from attentive staff. The Hovli Poyon is truly our home away from home in Bukhara. If it’s good enough for the Emir, it’s good enough for the discerning 21st century traveler.