On a very short notice my partner and I decided to get away to recharge our batteries and booked a week to Beirut.
We flew to Beirut ZRH to CDG and then BEY. We flew Air France and MEA to Beirut. Warning when you fly Air France (City Jet) from ZRH to CDG you land at 2G at CDG which is in the middle of nowhere and you must wait for a bus to take you to the main part of the airport. Depending on traffic this can take 10 to 20 minutes plus waiting time. Recommend to avoid CDG and fly direct from GV (3HRS & 30 minutes). MEA was good, very friendly, young staff. A full lunch is offered on the outbound flight and full breakfast on return flight.- nothing special. MEA does offer individual TV screens with a selection of movies, games, and TV shows in English and French. Please note leg room is not as much as on Swiss.
We hold Swiss and UK passports and contrary to the Lonely Planet and the Government websites you do NOT need VISA! It use to be you received one on arrival for $20 but this has been removed. Security and Passport was relatively quick and easy. There are cash machines outside arrivals and upstairs at departure including Bank which is open 7 days a week. Note you can not take more than 300,000 LLR at one time. TAXIS....they will ask for $45 to take you from the Airport to the City. Do NOT PAY THIS! We were told ahead of time to pay $20-25. It took us 4 or 5 taxis drivers to get this price.
Be prepared for the ride of your life. Not for the faint hearted!
One of the best experiences I have encountered traveling around the world!!! The staff was really fantastic! From the moment we arrived they were looking after us like VIP.
Welcoming, friendly, quick and efficient. Lisa the concierge came over while we were checking in and introduced herself. This was great because we had no time to prepare for this trip and hate to admit it but we knew nothing about Beirut nor Lebanon. Receptionist escorted us to our room and explained the room
Highlights of hotel:
1. Executive King
Very very spacious. Can not find fault with guest rooms. Fantastic view, 2 small balconies, nice walk in closet, Swiss coffee machine, bathroom was great and spacious. Free Wifi throughout the hotel, comp newspaper, comp water, fresh flowers and fruit in room, EU adaptors built in.
2. Rooftop pool. Not the biggest pool but one of the most spectacular rooftop pools I have seen with great views. They have around 12 sunchairs and the sun disappeared (to the otherside of the building) around 1530 hrs when we were visiting in late March but they say in summer the sun will be out till 1700hrs. Great views over city and ocean only the sound of Beirut's traffic takes away from the beauty.
3. Cigar Bar on the 6th floor...Paradise-a real oasis one could almost forget you are in the middle of Beirut. Beautifully landscaped roof top indoor and outdoor Cigar bar.
4. Restaurants: beautiful looking restaurant on 6th floor next to Cigar bar - never ate there and upscale cafe on the lobby level. Good service and very nice food.
5. Gym & Spa: One of the best hotel gyms I have seen. Staff very helpful. Personal trainers on site. Spa seemed busy. Had quick tour - relaxation room, sauna, and 5 treatment rooms.
6. Staff: Lisa, Andre Firas (head concierge) were ABSOLUTELY GREAT and really made out visit to Beirut. They got us into the best restaurants, bars as well as planned our day trips. They were brilliant!!
What we did not realise is the Beirut is a place for restaurant lovers and nightlife! Here are some of our favorite places we visited during our stay in Beirut:
Restaurants: first things first. if you arrive before 2130 you will be the only one in the restaurants. Make booking for 2130.
Abdel Wahab: traditional Lebonese food (Damascus Road - 10 minute walk from hotel)
Le Parilla: Argentina Steak house. Live pianist everynight. great service great food. One of our favorites! (10 minute walk from hotel)
La Piazza: Authentic italian two story restaurant very open. They have live Opera music twice a week. The guy is really good and make the entire experience!! Damascus road - 10 minute walk from hotel.
La Bodeguit del Medio: Cuban restaurant and bar. Always busy next to La Piazza. We only drank there so cant tell you how the food is.
Maki: Very authentic and great Sushi and Maki!!! Cold and chic inside but when it fills up it becomes warmer and more inviting. You go more for the food.
Centrale: Grech cuisine in extraordinary architecture. Near La Parilla restaurant. ten minute walk from hotel.
Margarita: small simple italian pizzeria with one of the best pizzas we have ever tasted!!! Great hostess and friendly service. Quick and simple. Located on Gemmayzeh 10 minute walk from hotel.
Music Hall: One of a kind, fantastic evening. be prepared for a long evening and lots of alcohol. Ten minute walk form hotel in what looks like an old theatre. Tables, red velvet seating for 6 to 8 people, upper level more tables and bar. All in all I would say around 500 to 700 people inside. $55 per head charge. Which means if there are two of you - you can have 3 drinks each or two bottles of wine or champagne of bottle of your favorite spirit and mixers. Ever 20 minutes a new and different live music acts comes on from Opera, to traditional Lebanese music, cuban, current pop, 80s music, and jazz. Starts at 10am and goes till 4am. By 1am everyone was standing and dancing. Very posh crowd, well dressed, age of guests ranging form 30s to 60s.
Pacifico: colonial house turned into gastro dining and bar. On quite side street. Seating inside and outside. stylish crowd but comfortable surroundings.
Felix: The ultimate who's who bar, chic, uber trendy, stylish, great people watching bar. small. Just look at the cars parked outside and that will give you a clue to the people inside.
Element: trendy small restaurant and bar with huge screen playing recent concerts. Indoor and outdoor seating. big bar area nice people
Gemmayzeh Street has millions of small restaurants bars all small holding no more than 20 people each. A sure bet for a nice evening. These restaurants on this street do not take reservations. ten minute walk away from hotel.
Places to visit: The central business district. Once destroyed during the war has recently been completely rebuilt. Around the corner from the hotel 2 minute walk. Lots of exclusive luxury shopping ( you name it...Jimmy Choo, LV, Prado, DG, Stella McCarthy and and and! Plus restaurants! comes to life in the evening. They even have a Zara, Massino Dutti and H & M.
Outside of Beirut: Have the hotel get you a driver for the day for $150 (includes driver, petrol, and car)
Baalbek (1hr and 30 minutes drive)
Zahle (vineyards) (45 minute drive)
Byblos (pretty harbour village with Souk) 30-40 minutes from Beirut)
Lady Lebonon (great view of Beirut)
Eddi Sands for beach experience next to Byblos.
Four Seasons: big, new tall high rise hotel on Corniche. More expensive than Le Gray. Very contemporary
Two Intercontinental Hotels near Four Seasons. Intercontis are old building but redone inside. Very classic and traditional very rich in decor. Phoenica is very big and Le Vendome is a boutique hotel but very old and ugly from oustdie and not great view.
Prefer Le Gray (87 rooms) and will return! Staff, location, service, comfort and services make it a world class hotel.
We felt completely safe walking around the hotel at any time of the day. Note there are Lebanese Army men on every corner (just about) with guns.
Beirut was like one big catwalk. Beautiful peopled and with a lot of style! They really dress up. Sometimes one could forget you were in the Middle East, parts of the city look very similar to Paris. But then you hear the mosques and see some of the buildings left from the war with bullet holes.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Le Gray, one of the finest five-star hotels in Beirut, is made up of 87 contemporary rooms and suites spread out over four floors. Many of the rooms can be interconnected for those travelling together. The architecture by Australian Kevin Dash ensures all rooms and suites are soaked in Mediterranean sun, while the central floor-to-ceiling, glass-topped atrium means the building is filled with light from the inside out. The contemporary, clutter-free interior design is by Mary Fox Linton in close collaboration with creator, Gordon Campbell Gray. The palette includes pastel shades of blue, sage green or lilac, with dark grey tile and mosaic bathrooms. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Le Gray Beirut Hotel Beirut