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Propelling north through Beirut from the city’s airport, I pass battered suburbs, ageing apartment blocks and sandstone monoliths. Creeping into the centre, the number of JG Ballard-esque, high-rise developments increases. Like many cities, Beirut is in a state of metamorphosis. Unlike most, the marks of recent ferocious conflict are everywhere. Lebanon’s civil war lasted from 1975 until 1990 and left gaping holes in the country’s population, mirrored by the pockmarks of sniper bullets and bomb blasts in its tranquil leafy streets.

Today, the city is on the move – but for our host, Samer Ghorayeb, the preservation of Beirut’s past is a concern.

TO STAY

Kempinski Summerland Hotel & Resort

A beachfront resort you’d expect to see in Cyprus or Riviera Maya, the Kempinski Summerland is fully equipped with five pools, three restaurants, a giant fitness center, and the exceptional Resense Spa. This five-star resort is perfectly suited for pampering its guests on-site, particularly families, though it’s also a plush base for exploring Beirut with its most exciting neighborhoods just minutes away.

Hotel Albergo

Long considered Beirut’s premier accommodation, Hotel Albergo ticks all the boxes one would expect from a Relais & Chateau property, high prices included. Opulent, but not stuffy, Hotel Albergo melds the stateliness of an Italian retreat (also hosting one of Beirut’s finest Italian restaurants, Al Dente) with Lebanese hospitality and design. Views from the rooftop pool survey the city skyline and the Mediterranean.

Phoenicia Beirut

Phoenicia Beirut’s reputation for attracting glamorous guests has existed since before Lebanon’s Civil War, and it certainly hasn’t wavered. Still the favorite among visiting glitterati, the 446-room hotel is ideally situated near the glistening Zaitunay Bay marina and downtown Beirut. Contemporary decor mingles with oriental accents throughout the sprawling property, which culminate around the decadent outdoor pool grounds.

Villa Clara

Inside Villa Clara, there are no indications of the Beirut bustle just outside. Tucked away on a quiet street in Mar Mikhael, this traditional 1920’s Lebanese house was converted into a humble, yet tastefully appointed getaway. Just seven en-suite rooms ensure an intimate stay among guests. Don’t miss a romantic dining experience at the French-inspired restaurant on the ground floor.

Beit el Tawlet

Souk el Tayeb’s eight-bedroom guesthouse has 1960s- and 1970s-inspired decor and offers fantastic views of the city. Check out wholesome delights from Lebanese producers at its market or head to its restaurant for soul food made by chefs from each corner of the country. Post-meal nap essential.

Baffa House

This authentic, plant-filled Lebanese family home has been lovingly restored by Samer Ghorayeb, his wife Jessica and their two small boys and offers a beautifully designed destination in the eastern Mar Mikhael neighbourhood, as well as unbeatable breakfasts and peace in the heart of the city.

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