Old Really Is Gold at This Relentlessly Charming Hotel in Beirut

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hotel albergo entrance
Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Albergo

Luxury in Lebanon tends to come with a side of flash, but one Beirut-based property has quietly defied this longstanding stereotype for nearly two decades now: Hotel Albergo. The majestic boutique hotel is nestled in the historic and infinitely charming Achrafieh district, the ochre-colored façade adding a touch of cheeriness to its plush surroundings – as does the sound of parakeets singing in an ornate cage just outside the lobby.

While many factors fall under Hotel Albergo’s “claim to fame” category, the fact that it remains the only luxury boutique hotel in Beirut is number one. A clientele as diverse and impressive as Madeleine Albright, Sting, and Elie Saab doesn’t hurt either.

Need to Know

hotel albergo business suite pink
Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Albergo

Housed in an architecturally stunning mansion dating back to the 1930s, Hotel Albergo is all about pure class – unsurprising, considering it’s a part of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux collection of gourmet restaurants, boutique hotels, and idyllic resorts. Adding to the air of exclusivity is the fact that there are only 33 suites, each with a distinct personality and color scheme of its own.

Step inside any one of them, and you’ll be greeted by carefully curated décor elements such as Ottoman chandeliers, Oriental-style vases, intricately patterned Persian rugs, inlaid wooden furniture from Damascus, gold-flecked trunks, and more – a true testament to Lebanon’s multicultural heritage. I stayed in one of the 430-square-foot ‘Business’ suites, a wonderful misnomer considering it was (gorgeously) decked out in girly shades of pink and green.

What You'll Like

olive oil soap hotel albergo beirut
Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Albergo

The flight from Dubai to Beirut may not be a particularly arduous one, but I loved unwinding with the welcome tray of fresh fruit, homemade pink lemonade, and Turkish delight. Hypoglycemia in check, I was highly appreciative of the copy of Agenda Culturel in my room considering I had little time to plan ahead for my trip. A quick skim, and I was up-to-date on the art exhibitions, festivals, film screenings, and concerts taking place across town – another point in Hotel Albergo’s favor.

My boudoir-style room’s lavish décor and its luxurious little touches are hard to forget, but – at the risk of sounding like a closeted diva – it was the opulent adjoining space that I found even more appealing. Scented candles, a vanity table, even more opaline vases, Molton Brown bath products, pure olive-oil soap, an ornamental jar filled with bath salts from the Dead Sea, oversized towels by luxury linen company Frette, and a Jacuzzi-style bathtub were just some of the extras that made it feel more like a spa suite than an en-suite bathroom.

What You'll Love

Photo: Courtesy of @HotelAlbergo

Rare books, tufted sofas, vintage photos of Lebanon, art, antiques, all manner of oddities and curiosities, and a somewhat hushed ambience insulating you from the chaos of nearby streets – it all adds up to old-world charm seeping throughout the property. I felt most nostalgic for a bygone era while riding the tiny Art Deco-style lift, its glass side giving me a glimpse of the rest of the hotel as it transported me to to the rooftop terrace at a (very) leisurely pace.

Staying Put

hotel albergo beirut rooftop terrace
Photo: Courtesy of @HotelAlbergo

And speaking of the rooftop terrace: this is where you’ll want to start the day by taking in 360-degree views of Beirut, shaded by fig trees and fueled with a breakfast of local staples such as honey, labneh, olives, and thyme croissants. Other dining options include Panoramic Restaurant (Western classics served in a salon-like setting) and Al Dente (an immensely popular Italian joint evoking 1940s glamour).

But that’s not where Hotel Albergo’s onsite offerings come to an end. On the agenda is the opening of a luxury spa complete with a traditional Turkish hammam, a beauty salon, a café, and two new restaurants. The swimming pool, which is currently under renovation, is also set to open later this year. Taking a plunge may not be on the top of your Beirut agenda, but if you must, the hotel will arrange access to all the health and wellness facilities at the Metropolitan Club that is only a few paces away.

Venturing Out

art exhibition at sursock museum
Photo: Courtesy of @SursockMuseum

Beirut’s nightlife may be famous – or even infamous at this point – but what few realize is that the city is rife with arts, cultural, and culinary institutions just waiting to be explored. Start with Sursock Museum, a contemporary art museum located less than 15 minutes from Hotel Albergo on foot. Besides accommodating both temporary and permanent exhibitions, it houses an extensive library, boasts a beautifully stocked gift shop, and regularly hosts events such as book launches, film screenings, and artist talks. While you’re in the area, make a pit stop for some artisan ice cream at the beloved Hanna Mitri.

Just as easily accessible from the hotel are retail gems such as The Silly Spoon (quirky-chic tableware and home accessories) and Over The Counter (trendy furniture and lighting by top Lebanese and international labels) – both speaking volumes of the city’s growing design scene. Browsing the neighborhood will build up an appetite, so make a beeline for Al Mayass to sample authentic Armenian fare complemented by live music and a homey environment, ending the night in true local fashion: with tea, shisha, and backgammon in the lush garden of Al Falamanki.

For more information or to book a stay at Hotel Albergo, click here.

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