Best of Beirut: The Phoenicia Hotel, BeirutBy Angelica Malin
The Best of Beirut series will focus on the coolest places to stay, eat and drink in Beirut over the next month. Kicking off the series is one of the grander of the city’s offerings: The Phoenicia, a 5* luxury hotel with 500 rooms and one serious view…
What do you think when I say ‘Beirut’? You might have visions of camels, desert-like heat and endless mint tea, but you probably don’t think of a cosmopolitan, forward-thinking and, frankly, rather raucous city. Don’t picture camels, picture: rooftop clubs, never-ending parties and some of the coolest speakeasy-style bars around.
Lauded as the ‘Paris of the Middle East’, Beirut’s fast-moving, late-night culture can be seen in everything from their relaxed, open restaurants and sensational 5* hotels. The Phoenicia is the place to stay; with extravagant, sensational pool parties to their own open-air cinemas – a sense of fun, as well as luxury, runs through the hotel. If you’re planning a trip to this mad, brilliant city, here’s what you need to know:
The Phoenicia Hotel Beirut: The History
The Phoenicia is one of the finest and oldest hotels in the city. It’s vast; with 500 suites, including incredible penthouses with panoramic sea views. With its many luxurious rooms and suites, restaurants, shops and two swimming pools, indoor and outdoor, the Phoenicia is known for class and variety, too. The hotel was refurbished in 2000 and continues to be adapted for the modern traveller with further design work planned this year.
The Phoenicia Hotel Beirut: The Rooms
There are small touches that make your stay in a hotel feel really special. At The Phoenicia, you will be greeted with platters of fresh fruit and traditional lebanese sweets, and just before bed, you’ll find your regular pillow chocolates replaced with freshly-made Lebanese flatbread, dips and, yes, a tiny vial of olive oil for dipping. Each room comes with breakfast (perhaps the largest buffet you’ve ever seen), access to the spa, pools, WiFi and complimentary shuttles to the airport and Downtown Beirut. Members of the Phoenicia Club enjoy membership benefits, such as massages, treats and pick-up from the airport in a limousine.
The Phoenicia Hotel Beirut: The Spa
The hotel’s spa is one of its crowning features. The indoor swimming pool boasts hydrotherapy showers, a mineral whirlpool and lovely relaxation areas. There’s a seating area in the spa’s entrance where you can have freshly-made juices and smoothies and watch the world go by. The spa specialises in Thai and Aryuvedic treatments; the most decadent being the four-hand massage, with essential oils and minerals, which can also be done in the comfort of your bedroom. They also offer comprehensive packages, such as a 14-day slimming package which includes body packages and special herbal powder scrubs. Price list and more information here.
The Phoenicia Hotel Beirut: The Food
Breakfast cannot be missed. You’ll be greeeted with huge platters of Lebanese cheese, a make-your-own pancake stand and the most sensational freshly squeezed juices. The hotel has a number of restaurants, designed to suit different guests; their rooftop spot Eau de Vie on the 11th floor is the most expensive restaurant in Beirut, and you can see why: with panoramic rooftop views of the glittering skyline, the largest whisky collection in Beirut with 160 single malts and great food, it’s the taste of luxury reserved for the few. For a more casual setting, there’s also a fantastic poolside restaurant, which serves light bites such as Caesar salad and grilled shrimp skewers, and pitchers of sangria to be shared. They also have a buffet restaurant and a sushi restaurant that focuses on Japanese cuisine, as well as fruit maki. Yes, fruit maki.
The Phoenicia Hotel Beirut: The Verdict
One of the nicest hotels in Beirut; and somewhere for a very special occasion indeed. The facilities of the hotel cannot be beaten, and touches of the bespoke throughout still give a personal and welcoming feel to the vast hotel. If you’re a fan of grand and impressive, this hotel for you. If you’re more interested in boutique and bespoke, then stay tuned for our second-part hotel series on Beirut’s Le Vendome Hotel next week.
Images in top gallery by Angelica Malin