Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Le Gray Beirut

29 Oct 2010 by AndrewGough

BACKGROUND Open since late last year, Le Gray is the fourth property in the luxury Campbell Gray Hotels collection, joining Dukes and One Aldwych in London, and Carlisle Bay in Antigua. The 87-room new-build is located in Beirut’s revitalised downtown district, an area badly damaged by the Lebanese Civil War in the 1970s and undergoing huge investment in residential, retail and hotel projects. Visit businesstraveller.com/city-guides for a walking tour of the district.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? The hotel has an ultra-modern, design-led feel. Bright white walls in the minimalist lobby feature an electronic flower art installation that lights up in the evenings, while a curious multicoloured baby elephant stands by reception. There are about 500 works of art in the hotel, hand-selected by Gordon Campbell Gray and including quirky pieces such as a map of the world made of toast, hung on the walls of the ground-floor Gordon’s Café. A glass atrium in the middle of the hotel creates a central area around which the rooms and suites are located, and the top floor houses a restaurant, bar and rooftop pool.

WHERE IS IT? On Rue Weygand, at the north-west corner of Martyrs’ Square, a few minutes’ walk from both Place de L’Etoile and the recently opened Beirut Souks.

ROOM FACILITIES Rooms are set back from the corridors, giving a sense of privacy, and are generous in size, with the standard Deluxe category – of which there are only 12 – measuring 40 sqm. My 60 sqm Executive suite had pleasant lilac décor and an Arabic-style wooden ceiling (rooms are individually designed but have a broad colour scheme of green, blue or lilac).

The in-room facilities were impressive – there was a sofa, two armchairs and a coffee table in a lounge area, another glass coffee table with two chairs, a workdesk with UK plug points, a make-up table and stool in an area between the bedroom and bathroom, a walk-in wardrobe, two full-length mirrors, an espresso machine with freshly ground coffee beans, a minibar and laptop safe.

The large bathroom had a separate tub and shower (with a TV at one end of the bath), and Ren amenities. There was also a small balcony with views of Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque and what will become the city’s Garden of Forgiveness, but which is currently a building site. Wifi is free in the bedrooms and public areas. Guests receive fresh fruit and flowers daily, as well as turndown service and a free newspaper.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS Gordon’s Café offers an à la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as afternoon tea and home-baked viennoiseries and bread. A street terrace has recently been added, which, while a bit on the noisy side, will at least allow guests to soak up the Beirut sunshine. Indigo on the Roof serves international cuisine “with a Mediterranean twist” and, when I visited, the menu included shellfish, pasta, risotto and grill dishes, as well as signature beef choices including an 18-day aged Tajima Wagyu fillet steak. The restaurant also has a rooftop terrace and a wine wall with more than 300 choices.

As the name would suggest, the popular Bar Three Sixty offers 360-degree views of the city, and in keeping with Beirut’s trendy night scene is a stylish venue with soft lighting, colour-lit tables, a blue lacquered grand piano, signature cocktails, and DJs playing late into the evening. The hotel also has a smoking lounge offering a wide range of Cuban cigars, cognacs and single malt whiskies, plus a pool terrace serving healthy snacks.

Business and meeting facilities This boutique property is not designed for large meetings but there is a boardroom on the second floor for ten people. It has an LCD display, projector and screen, wifi access and natural daylight. An empty space in the basement, which has its own street-level entrance, was originally built to house shops but may now be rejigged to provide a conference area.

LEISURE FACILITIES The rooftop pool overlooks Martyrs’ Square, and its infinity edge creates the illusion of being able to swim right off the top of the building. There is a relaxing area with sun loungers next to it. In the basement there is a well-equipped gym, a spa with six treatment rooms, a sauna and a hair salon.

VERDICT A superb addition to Beirut’s hotel scene, it’s hard to fault this property. Rooms are spacious and well-equipped, and the rooftop public areas provide an oasis overlooking the bustle of downtown.

Mark Caswell

FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 87, including 12 Deluxe rooms and 62 Executive suites – the rest are one- and two-bedroom suites.
  • ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The spacious living areas, large bathrooms with built-in TVs, and the good-quality espresso coffee machine.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in December started from US$435 for a Deluxe room.
  • CONTACT Le Gray, Martyrs’ Square, Beirut Central District; tel +961 1971 111; legray.com
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