It’s been called the Paris of the Middle East, and today you’ll find Lebanon’s capital is a dynamic, buzzing metropolis that sits proudly and comfortably between the East and the West. For millennia, the city has consistently managed to reinvent itself after numerous natural and man-made disasters; few other world capitals welcome visitors like this one, and its eternal optimism and genuine hospitality make it a very special place to visit.
For an equally special place to stay, you can choose no better five-star luxury than Le Royal Hotels & Resorts Beirut. Voted Lebanon’s Leading Spa Resort 2014 and a proud member of Leading Hotels of the World, the Resort has won numerous other awards for excellence in leisure, gastronomy and spa facilities and is part of the General Mediterranean Holding group owned by Iraqi-born British businessman and philanthropist Sir Nadhmi Auchi. GMH is a strong and diverse multi-national organisation with activities ranging from banking and finance, construction and real estate, to hotel and leisure, telecommunications and aviation, and its Le Royal Hotels and Resorts division also has a number of five-star establishments in Luxembourg, Madrid, Hammamet, Amman and Sharm El Sheikh.
Perched on a towering hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, 15 kilometres from downtown Beirut and the airport, Le Royal Resort is close to the magnificent Jeita Grotto, nominated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, the Casino du Liban, the historic city and souks of Byblos, ski resorts and chic shopping districts. The beautifully furnished 231 guest rooms and suites are equipped with every modern convenience, and feature kitchenettes, living rooms and terraces, with high speed wireless internet and excellent facilities for disabled guests.
Gastronomy is an important part of Le Royal Beirut. Le Jardin du Royal, overlooking the panoramic pool, offers seafood, Italian and Mexican fare, as well as barbecue nights in the summer with live music. In the stylish Titanic piano bar with its maritime feel, you’ll find French and continental cuisine, sushi and live entertainment on the weekends. Diwan Shahrayar is the perfect setting for Lebanese specialties and late night entertainment with belly dancing, offering a sumptuous variety of meze, grilled meats and Arabian desserts that will keep you coming back for more. And the enormously popular Ikebana Night Club hosts comedy nights every weekend for plenty of laughs over dinner.
The Royal Spa, spread over four levels and 6,000m2 of space, has a stunning glass façade with panoramic views of the Mediterranean, an indoor infinity pool, indoor and outdoor jacuzzis, sauna, mud bath and the only authentic Turkish hamam in Lebanon. A fully equipped gym with state-of-the-art machines, aerobics classes, personal training, squash and tennis, in addition to many unusual spa treatments, complete this unique experience. For more energetic entertainment, the Watergate Aqua Park spread over 20,000m2 is the largest in the Middle East and features thrilling rides, several swimming pools and casual dining.
The attractions in the Mediterranean metropolis of Beirut are numerous, be they cultural, casual or culinary. World-class local and international restaurants sit side-by-side with jazz bars, night clubs and narghile coffee shops. The new Downtown Beirut, glistening with its high-end shopping and unique architecture, contrasts with the busy business centres and splendid seaside corniche a few minutes away. This is a city of sunshine, cultural events, beautiful people, respected tradition and absolute modernity, all rolled into one.
Places to visit include Pigeon Rocks, a monumental natural arch jutting up from the Mediterranean, and the beautiful Jeita Grotto in the Valley of Nahr al-Kalb just north of the city, a compound of crystallized caves which boast the world’s longest stalactite. In Beirut itself, check out the open-air mall in Ashrafieh, the nightlife of the Bohemian Gemmayzeh and Hamra neighborhoods, glamorous shopping in Verdun, and the old souks of Jounieh and the Armenian quarter for a great bargain. Don’t forget to haggle!