Marion Hume | February 10th, 2011
Photos Courtesy of Le Gray
This year, I want to go to Beirut and stay at Le Gray, where a friend recently checked in for a cautious three nights, changed her mind and stayed for over a week. Le Gray is swanky, sleek, Australian-architect-designed and with a restaurant on the roof.
Don’t expect unadulterated beauty in the city once known as “Paris on the Levant;” the pockmarked battering of long years of civil war is evident and this hotel fronts onto Martyrs’ Square, the fault line between Muslim West Beirut and the Christian East. It’s the people who make me determined to get to this energizing city. Lebanese friends recall how even in a city was under siege, they’d glam up, run the gauntlet and go shopping, so nothing is going to stop them living it large 24/7 now.
Le Gray is imbued with the same indomitable spirit, situated in the rebuilt-from-the-rubble downtown area of Solidere. Don’t come here for tranquility. If the dawn call of the muezzin doesn’t wake you, I’m told the bulldozers and pneumatic drills certainly will. But you’ll want to be awake, to pack in site-seeing to Al Amin mosque, St. George’s Cathedral and the Roman Cardo Maximus and of course lunch of delicious Lebanese meze.
Le Grey, Martyrs Square, Central Beirut District, 3888, Lebanon. + 961 1 971111; www.campbellgrayhotels.com