It is a big experimental space for art and culture, full of talented people, brilliant minds, and lively groups, each one offering a different, new, and exciting aspect of life. Music, love, art, acting, cooking, swearing, honking, dancing, gunshots, alcohol, weed, flirting, craziness, fireworks, and so much more make up Beirut. The city is vibrant with its people, visitors, and cats. It loves and kills them, and they love and kill it. Beirut, is like “sleeping with the enemy”, it is an unending Mexican-Turkish-Syrian soap opera. Here, freedom of expression coexists with corruption. To be in Beirut is to be in the right place at the right time. So let us speak about our Beirut, and present it to you as we live it: with a delicious masochistic passion.
Join us on this 48 hour trip to the Lebanese capital!
To start, Jamil invites you to spend your short visit at his family house in the heart of Achrafieh. The place has been transformed into a cozy bed and breakfast called Dar el Achrafieh. The building dates back to the 1920s and is haunted by memories of a beautiful era. Today it awaits your own memories made between its walls.
It is 9am. Do not worry, the alarm did not ring. After all, you are on a relaxing vacation. Head to Monot street, where you will have a healthy, refreshing and delicious breakfast at Eat Sunshine. Start with some organic matcha cream, with almonds, bananas and strawberries along with a soft boiled egg. This will taste amazing in the green and cozy atmosphere of the place.
If you are coming in the warm months (April through October), head to Sporting Club, one of Beirut’s oldest and most established beaches. The atmosphere could be described as “vintage Beiruti”. With a little luck, you will manage to take over some chairs right next to the waves and sleep while listening to their soothing sound. Do not forget your sunscreen and hat, you are later going to need all your energy to call an Uber and go to the temple of ice cream since the 1950s: Hanna Mitri ice cream. You will find it on a strategic corner of Achrafieh. Passers-by inevitably stop at the door without having any clear indication of the name of the place. Try the 'Croquant', it is the most desired flavor, and ask him to be generous with the lemon and mulberry sorbets. Careful not to drip, mulberry stains are permanent! After ice cream, you could go back to Dar el Achrafieh where you will find that Jamil inevitably prepared some Lebanese style Turkish coffee, and will tell you his Beiruti stories over a cup or two.
Tonight will be full of artistic discoveries and intimate encounters. No need to dress up, your first stop will be at Onomatopoeia the music hub. It is a destination for music lovers who are looking for original live acts from Oud, to piano, oriental to jazz. The performances range from improvisation to films, discussions, and parties.
You now have your rhythm. Continue to the next musical stop at L’appartement, an authentic Lebanese house where you will find fun, dancing and great DJs. Rest assured, only great DJs will be playing there. What happens in L'appartement stays in L'appartment.
To be in Beirut is to be in the right place at the right time. So let us present it to you as we live it!
Take this guided tour with us for 48 hours of passion around Beirut's hidden gems
If your night was short, don't worry, after all you have 24 hours left. A bit of Labneh, grilled Halloumi cheese, with some Zaatar and mint prepared by Jamil will get you all up and ready. Open google maps and type in Beit Beirut. This 90 year old building is a living memory of Lebanon. It is located in the Sodeco area, on the demarcation line between East and West Beirut during the civil war. It became a strategic military spot for some of the most infamous snipers of the war, and today has been turned into a contemporary museum showcasing the memory of the war, amid bullet holes, sandbags and the graffiti found on its walls. The elegant renovation was done under the supervision of the architect Youssef Haydar.
Orient499 is another kind of museum worth a visit. It is like the cave of Ali Baba, literally. Here you will find embroidered Abayas, accessories for the house, and all your needs for an oriental hamam along with artisanal items from Lebanon, Syria, and Morocco.
From there you can walk to Salon Beirut, where you can enjoy a light delicious lunch in its beautiful garden. A quick 'service' ride and you can get to one of the only remaining green spots in the city, the Beirut central park, or Horsh Beirut. For a long time, the park was closed to the public. It was reopened several times temporarily under some unclear circumstances. Finally, it is now open again, and it provides some dose of clean oxygen, exactly what you will need now, some yoga poses, some Bruce Lee postures, or simply to lie down.
Then maybe some 'pain perdu' at Prunes, a French bistro, or 'crème brulée' next door at brasserie Charlotte, or simply a coffee at Acoté. All these places are next to one another in Mar Mikhael, so you could visit all of them in one go. In this neighborhood which attracts many young Beirutis, life is both easy and delicious.
A few steps away, you can have a quick artistic stop at Plan Bey. It is a space that is somewhere between an art gallery and a bookshop. Not much further, you will find Badguèr, a center that promotes artisans and creatives in the heart of Borj Hammoud, a neighborhood full of Armenian artists. Not everyone might know of this place, but it is certainly worth a visit, and will get you acquainted with some other facets of Beirut.
No doubt by now the smell of Sujuk and Pastrami has taken over your senses as you walk around this Armenian street, so why not have a taste? Just remember to leave some room for a big Lebanese dinner later, that would get you high even without any alcohol. There are plenty of good destinations, but we recommend the elegant Em Sherif restaurant. Make sure to try the Em Ali for dessert as you listen to tarab and oud. If you prefer a more popular evening of drinking Arak while listening to oriental electro and eating Lebanese, Armenian and Moroccan dishes, then you certainly should be going to Mezyan.
We know that you want to go back with lots of Lebanese memories, with zaatar, Kishk, honey, rice, flowers, jams, rosemary, mulberry juice, makdous, pickles, and other traditional “mouneh” food. For that your destination should be nowhere else but Souk el Tayeb, a farmers’ market where farmers and artisans are selling all kinds of ingredients and delicious foods. Check their schedule on the website to know where and when the open air market will be taking place in Beirut or in some Lebanese village. To work out all those calories, head to Exhale Beirut, a spinning studio in Saifi Village, before showering and getting ready for a great night out at Iris, White, the One, or simply drinks at Bread, a local Achrafieh hangout or for higher octane evenings, one of the many bars in Hamra that double as meat markets after midnight. Do get to the airport a good 90 minutes before your departing flight, Beirut is heaving with tourists all year round!
You will come back soon!