If it’s good enough for Salma Hayek (and apparently Mr Olympia 1983), then it’s good enough for us. Sitting on top of Paul and Urbanista, with a range of outlets around it, 1866 Court & Suites is a new baby on the block, similar in concept to Three O Nine. Designed by architect Bernard Khoury (of B018 fame), the hotel is every bit as cool and visually striking as expected. Rooms are spacious, light and airy, offering generous views of the city and seascape around them. Small private kitchens are provided, making it perfect for the independently minded who still want the comfort of a hotel.
Baffa House feels like home. Doted on by the same family that has owned it for generations, the place is redolent of old Lebanon, but with a fresh twist. Set back on a street at the edge of Mar Mikhael, the house exudes calm and comfort. Local art adorns the walls (as well as a few photos of the family), and the intimacy of the place – just four rooms! – makes it the perfect choice for a cosy stay in Beirut. The breakfast prepared by the owner’s mum is the icing on the cake.
From the owners of Plan Bey and Mótto comes BEYt, a beautiful guest house on the ever-popular Armenia Street. The house features high ceilings, classic arcades and authentic tiled floors, which make for a classically simple and relaxed atmosphere. The luscious private garden, vintage furniture, designer antiques and handmade textiles complete the picture. For a taste of authentic, arty old Lebanon in the heart of Mar Mikhael, it’s a great choice.
The Coral Beirut Al Hamra provides a pleasant stay in the heart of Hamra, offering all the ingredients of a comfortable boutique-style hotel. All rooms have a private balcony looking out onto the streets of Hamra, and the restaurant Snug, featuring an outdoor terrace with shisha service, provides both Lebanese and international dishes, made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Calm and cosy, hotel and restaurant alike are a great place to unwind after a long day in Beirut.
Beautifully decorated, centrally located and oozing style and charm, Dar Al Achrafieh, a self-proclaimed ‘living piece of the city’s memory’, is the perfect choice for an intimate encounter with a city looking to its past to define its present. Painted ceilings and Art Deco furnishings are the order of the day here. They’re styled by attentive, down-to-earth host Jamil, a man enamoured of fabrics, textiles and their embellishments. He puts his heart into the establishment, offering a warm and familiar base from which to explore an often chaotic city.
For a characterful stay in Achrafieh, the warm and welcoming Hayete, one of Beirut’s first guest houses, is well worth a visit. Named after the Levantine Arabic word for ‘my darling’, this traditional 20th-century house is poised to become your second home in Lebanon. Mixing traditional Lebanese architecture with art nouveau design, Hayete has the right amount of style and individuality to pique the interests of those of a creative persuasion, while its small size and communal balcony make for an environment of genuine friendliness and warmth.
Le Commodore, situated on Baalbek Street in Hamra, is the legendary hotel that housed foreign journalists during the civil war. What was once the site of chaos is now a comfortable and attractive hotel with decent rooms and a great location. The staff are very friendly, and the hotel stand out from others in the price range thanks to the lovely outdoor swimming pool, which gives sun-worshippers the opportunity to bask in the middle of the city.
Okay, so the pseudo-Baroque décor may be a wee bit tacky – but then that’s often part of the package in Lebanon, and the place compensates with abundant warmth and character. This boutique hotel boasts wonderful hospitality, a great location and comfortable rooms, all of which come with a balcony. An on-site restaurant and bar are there for those that need it – but don’t forget to explore the area for a panoply of excellent wining and dining options.
If you are looking for somewhere slick and youthful to rest your head, the brand new Smallville Hotel in the city’s bohemian Badaro district offers glossy and functional rooms with big flat-screen TVs and fun touches aplenty. An impressive top-floor pool and so-called Superhero Gym (not the best description of how we felt after our session on the treadmill) round out the range of facilities. And its location next to the impressive Beirut National Museum is within 20 minutes walk of pretty much everywhere you’d want to visit.
A self-styled ‘urban house’ overlooking the American University of Beirut, Three O Nine is a unique accommodation option in Hamra. Modern design and bright, airy spaces are the order of the day in this hybrid hotel-cum-guest house. A newly opened rooftop bar with panoramic views of the sea all the way to Jounieh, and which hosts special DJ sets on the weekends, makes this the right place to go for those who want a bit of urban chic during their stay in Beirut.