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I was in Beirut last year and decided to stop for a brief weekend visit again this year on my way to Amman, Jordan. I am glad I went back as the city continues to evolve in exciting ways.
The newest hotel on the scene is the luxury boutique, Le Gray, by Gordon Campbell Gray (owner of One Aldwych and Dukes Hotel in London, and Carlisle Bay in Antigua). This contemporary, beautifully-designed gem is a smart luxury winner with an excellent location (near shopping, religious sites, restaurants, and the sea). It boasts spacious rooms, a small but lovely rooftop pool, modern gym and serene spa, and a not-to-be-missed international restaurant, Indigo, with awe-inspiring views of the Hariri-built mosque. Above that is Bar 360, with its sweeping city views and chic vibe.
The hotel service is impeccable. Somehow all the staff knows your name and is keen to help with any and all inquiries. They really make you feel special. Gordon Campbell Gray has personally selected the artwork, and his attention to detail clearly shows. His hotel opening this past winter is exceedingly well-timed, as Beirut's tourism has begun a rapid climb.
Apparently word about Le Gray is getting around. Bette Midler was staying there last week. And Walid Jumblatt, a leading Lebanese politician, dines there weekly, among other luminaries.
The greatest fear in Beirut is overdevelopment. Hopefully that won't happen. But there's clearly an attractive energy about the city as new shops, hotels, restaurants, and cultural attractions open. For exploring this pleasant and fun Mediterranean city, there's no better home base than Le Gray.