Beirut, the onetime Paris of the Middle East, reveals a fresh new look proving that it can compete with the respected likes of any plush cosmopolitan city around. Check out what you’ve been missing.
Looking at Beirut ten years ago and now, it’s evident that the city has undergone a drastic makeover. Every day, the city finds itself with new housing developments, luxury hotels, new shopping districts, and the list continues. The amount of activity Beirut has seen in the last few years despite the country’s political complications is astonishing. The city offers everything under the sun from good food, amazing accommodation and a lively nightlife...
Kamal Mouzawak's restaurant, Tawlet is something special in it's ability to unite the country of Lebanon. Tawlet invites cooks (mainly producers from the Souk el Tayeb Farmers' market) from endearing districts and hill-towns to share their recipes and expertise. There's never really a resident cook on site for that position is shared with the various cooks hailing from different regions of Lebanon. Talwet doesn't just unify the cooks of its country, but also celebrates them. The restaurant also hosts cooking classes.
Fairly new but already established as one of Beirut’s jewels, Le Gray. This chic boutique hotel is located near the famous Mohammed al-Amin mosque, an usual location for a a new,hip hotel with a roof top indigo bar. Le Gray is one of the many new hotels taking advantage of Beirut’s potential to be a tourist hot spot once again. Owner, Campbell Gray boasts, “Beirut is a real city, with real history and edge. That makes it sexy," he says. "I find it beguiling, exciting, damaged, vain, beautiful. This is the new hot place."
It’s hard to imagine the two words “middle eastern” and “cabaret” in the same sentence, but the times are changing. Beirut’s nightlife is very active for there are so many options from lounges, dance clubs and even cabaret venues. The Music Hall at Starco Center hosts range from Gypsy performers to Armenian rockers (and we don’t mean System of the Down). Play along with the locals in anticipation of what act will hit the stage next.
Beirut is full of history, both glorious and gruesome. Beirut’s 5,000 year-old historic soukhs were destroyed during Lebanon’s civil war, leaving it’s downtown location looking bare and sad. Development group, Solidere, rebuilt the area by constructing a luxury shopping center with the help of designers Zaha Hadid and Rafael Moneo. The high end shops you love on famous strips like Rodea Drive can also by found on Rue Weygand and Rue Allenby in Beirut.
Photo credits: Sean Hemmerle