My wife and I stayed at the Bab Al Bahr Hotel for 4 nights in March 2006. Our tour group of about 100 people, along with a couple of other groups, were based out of this hotel during our week in Libya for the total solar eclipse.
The Bab Al Bahr is a business-class hotel tower (about 15 floors) along the waterfront about a ten-minute walk from the Green Square, Red Castle, and the National Museum. My best description of the rooms to western standards is that they are similar to an old Motel 6 or Ibis, i.e. clean, functional, but in need of refurbishment. We had lights, hot water, and satellite TV with about a dozen channels (including 3-4 english language channels), and the room was not dirty, but you could tell that the carpet and furniture were probably installed several years ago and they've seen better days. That being said, aside from the Corinthian (which is a European-style luxury hotel), the Bab Al Bahr is probably among the better tourist-oriented hotels in Libya.
There is a restaurant and a coffee shop, both serving decent food at reasonable prices. There is also a gift shop with snacks and trinkets as well as an internet center with 4 (slow) computers. Most of the people we met in Libya were warm and gracious, so it was a little surprising that the hotel staff was as disinterested as they seemed to be. Not rude or mean, but they seemed kind of bothered whenever I needed to ask them for something. There are also lots of pictures of Qaddafi, which was kind of funny. He's on the walls, on the billboards, we half expected him to be smiling at us from inside our toilet.
Some other things to keep in mind - there is a money-changing center in the hotel, but it is closed on Fridays, as are most business in Tripoli. The ATM in the lobby works sometimes, but inconveniently is also non-functional on Fridays, which, oddly enough was the same for most ATM's in town (I guess computers need a day off too). The hotel has a laundry service, which takes about 2 days to return your load. Taxi rides into the main tourist area run about 3-5 dinars (approx. $2-4 USD) and 15 dinars to the airport (approx. $12 USD). For a good meal, there is a nice restaurant at the top of the Al-Fateh Tower (Libya's tallest) right across from the Bab. We also walked over to the Corinthian and while we ended up eating at the Souk that day, we spotted a very nice restaurant in the hotel.
One always useful bit of advice for Libya - carry around toilet paper. Our hotel had some, but out on the streets, its every man for himself.
All in all, if you want luxury, stay at the Corinthian, but if you are looking for a functional room at more reasonable prices, the Bab's not a bad bet. Also try the Grand Hotel, which has a killer location right by the Red Castle and seemed a bit more modern when we toured the lobby.
- Also Known As:
- Bab Al Bahr Tripoli