Just returned from a 17 night trip around Iran yesterday and thought l would report back here.
Firstly l had a lot of trouble getting hold of the Iranian Consulate in London, they were a nightmare to deal with. So l wanted to recommend http://www.shiraztravel.co.uk/ who arranged the visa for me, Donya sorted this and all in it was £160, l still had to go to the consulate to give fingerprints but l was there for less than 1 hour, walked straight in as she already had rough time and ticket number so did not have to que outside and they posted my passport back a week later, great service.
As a British Citizen you have to go on an organised tour even if you were born elsewhere or of a different ethnic origin. I used http://www.iranstravel.com/Home and they were brilliant. It was recommended by a Persian friend. They sorted the authorisation code for visa, tour, guide, driver, hotels etc all for a reasonable price and paid in Euros in cash day after arrival. I dealt with Azimeh via email and she promptly answered all emails and made a number of changes along the way and was really reassuring. The tour agency is based in Yazd near the Jamia Mosque but they arrange tours all over Iran. My driver and guide was Hassan, he was flexible and made stops along the way, some diversions and great recommendations.
As for Iran it is generally safe and most people are really friendly and hospitable. It was a weird one for me, l was born in the UK but l am of Indian Punjabi origin, everyone thought l was a local! Both times at the local airport people where directing me off the foreign que to Persian que! Had some strange experiences which wouldn't have happened if l was a more obvious foreigner, for example a dad on a mobile speaking to me in Farsi and handing me his daughter before walking off?! He was too engrossed in phone conversation to notice me speaking back in English, he came back 15 minutes later!
Being British over there is abit of a concern, watching press TV the Iranian English news channel over there, you see lots of anti US, Israel, Saudi and UK propaganda. For example, re the UK they were presenting news about sexual harassment of women in work like it wasn't safe for women to step out the door or news of a taser shooting of a black ex footballer like the UK is rife with racism and discrimination, or news of UK government training Bahraini police officers and human rights abuses etc, now the UK is certainly not perfect but the way the stories were presentated was exaggerated. Also the stories of spy's and British Iranians being picked up on dubious charges lately was disconcerting.
A few times l noticed people say at hotel reception were really friendly and as some as they saw my British passport they turned a little hostile, only a few times and not surprising with the news they are peddling and that's the English version l am sure the Farsi version is worse. I also noticed at police checkpoints and being stopped by the Revolutionary guards by driver would sometimes say l was from India and not the UK as this was the easier option. When l arrived at the airport the guy at insurance desk was surprised l was British and said good luck and laughed when he saw my passport l was on edge after that but generally it was fine.
Re Iran in general the places and landscapes were stunning and unique. I went from Tehran to Abanyah, Kashan, Messr, Kerman, Yazd, Shiraz, Isfahan and back to Tehran and a number of sites and stops around these areas and along the way. The food was disappointing for me, tried everything from low end to high end, too many kebabs, little variety, too much meat and a lack of flavour for me. On the plus side the juices are great, melon/barberry/watermelon/carrot/pomegranate juices, and pistachio and saffron ice creams.
The people are mostly really friendly and will go out of their way for you. There was a few cheating Basts and rude/hostile people but you get them everywhere and it was a minority. I did speak at length to a local of the Baha'i faith and his stories were pretty shocking but my driver dismissed it when l brought up a few things but in any case as a tourist you are unlikely to experience anything and in terms of theft l think it's really rare and l felt completely safe walking around with wads of cash.
The hotels were a mixed bag. Some really good, like Fazeli Hotel in Yazd but some pretty terrible. You can not flush loo paper down any toilets or it will block the system. The breakfasts compared to international standards not comparable but it is doable and they always had watermelon which was great, was not a fan of fried eggs left lying under a tray for god knows how long!
All in all despite the hassles l would say it's worth the trip, you will have some great memories and fab gifts too