Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Stay at Four Seasons Hotel Beirut - Lebanon

On our second visit to Beirut, Lebanon this year, we wanted a different location, especially since thing weren't safe, staying in a small boutique hotel was out of the question.  Even though classic designed hotels are not places I prefer to accommodate in, Four Seasons Hotel was probably the top hotel there, after Intercontinental Phoenicia, which I've stayed in a couple of times more than a decade ago.  The brand itself spells security and comfort.  You can never go wrong with Four Seasons where good services are guaranteed. Another major reason for choosing this hotel was its incredible location, right by Zaitunay Bay and overlooking both the ocean and the mountains.  The views looked even better at night when the mountains lit up with lights from homes and towns. 
 Design wise there wasn't anything special about the room except that it was really clean and felt new.  The twin beds were somewhat small, not like most twin beds we've slept in before.  As for hospitality, we were literally treated like royalty.  So much so that we forget the rude way we were treated in Beirut's airport everytime we arrived and departed.  Complimentary gifts extended to a checkout gift.  Room service and the restaurant were excellent from service to friendliness to quality of food.  Don't even think of missing their breakfast. I would say the Four Seasons Beirut is the best in town.
 اخترنا السكن في فندق فور سيزونز في زيارتنا لبيروت للمرة الثانية هذا العام. من   اسباب اختيارنا لفندق مختلف هو ان مع الأوضاع الأمنية كان من الأفضل السكن في فندق أكبر من البوتيك ويكون في موقع حيوي. ما أقول ان موقع فندق لو غري ما كان زين بالعكس كان أيضا ممتاز لكن بالليل كتن هدوء السوليدير واضح. وهذا الفندق كان له موقع أيضا ممتازمقابل لمشروع المطاعم والمقاهي زيتونه بي وبالقرب من واحد من أرقى الفنادق في لبنان وهو الفندق انتركونتيننتال فينيسيا واللي سكنت فيه مرتين قبل أكثر من 10 سنين. بغض النظر عن وجود أعمال بناء في الجوار الا أن المناظر لا تتعوض.  تطل بلكونة الغرفة على البحر وعلى المارينا لزيتونه بي وعلى الجبال.  وبالليل المنظر كان خيال لما ينور الجبل من المنازل والمدن الجبلية.
Kunafe Kaak
كعك كنافة
من ناحية ديكور الغرفة كان الأثاث كلاسيكي وعادي لكن نظيف وغير مستهلك.  غرفتنا بسريرين الا ان السرير الواحد كان وايد صغير مقارنة بللي نشوفه في الفنادق الأخرى.  الفندق ما قصر بالخدمات الممتازة والمساعدة برحابة صدر ومعاملتنا كأمراء وكانوا يقدمون بعض الهدايا الصغيرة حتى عند عملية الجيك آوت من الفندق.  أما خدمة الغرفة للطعام والمطعم كانوا أيضا ممتازين من ناحية الخدمة ومستوى الأكل. لا تطوفون وجبة الإفطار في المطعم.  أقدر أقول ان فندق الفور سيزونز هو أفضل فندق في بيروت

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tawlet Souk el Tayeb - Beirut, Lebanon

I still wasn't too keen on being in Beirut, Lebanon, in addition to the political instability in the country, there was a bigger threat especially to our group.  Before travelling for the second time to Lebanon, we heard that ISIS was planning on kidnapping Kuwaiti nationals.  I don't know where that came from, a weird thing, but anyways we had to be careful as not to look and act "Kuwaiti".  We agreed that if anyone asked, we'd pretend we didn't come from where we did. I think I was used to this by now, because I used to pretend I was from somewhere foreign whenever I visited Istanbul. So we had to be extra cautious as not to bring much attention to our group. 
The time of arrival, I started looking for good restaurants, somewhere casual, somewhere I could have authentic food.  And I came across a great place! A unique concept. Tawlet - Souk el Tayeb, isn't new, and even before that it used to be a farmer's market.  The idea behind Tawlet was that every day was a different cuisine, from a different area in Lebanon produced by local farmer women.  So everyday you have the chance to have a taste of Lebanon in a different way.  Profit goes out to the farmers and cooks. This was so up my alley.  Especially since its traditional and charitable. The region of the menu was that of Tripoli.  The food was fantastic! I had a second round and resisted a third one.  We chose a god time to have lunch, very early so I can have the chance to take good blog shots from my iPhone.  Believe it or not, this restaurant, this second visit to Lebanon in 2015, had us wanting to go back to Beirut. The place was that good.

ما زلت غير سعيدة بزيارتي لبيروت للمرة الثانية واللي زاد الحالة علي اني سمعت ان جماعة داعش مهددين خطف الخليجيين على وقت زيارتنا.  فوق ما الأوضاع الأمنية تعبانة في المنطقة فوق ما نحاتي الاختطاف. اتفقنا قبل السفر ان ما نفضح ان احنا كويتيين واذا أحد سألنا عن أصلنا نقول شي ثاني.  الزيارة كانت ليومين فقط. يومين ايدنا على قلبنا وما نبي نطلع بالليل الا مثلا لأماكن قريبة من الفندق.  
بحثت عن مطاعم مختلفة وحديثة ولقيت مطعم فكرته حلوة.  مطعم طاولات- سوق الطيب ما كان مطعم جديد وقبل افتتاحه كان سوق المزارعين.  فكرة المطهم المتواضع ان كل يوم يقدمون مأكولات مختلفة.  كل يوم يختارون منطقة من لبنان وتطبخ للبوفيه نساء من المزارع أكلات تقليدية من المنطقة باستخدام وصفات من المزارع. يذهب ريع المطعم الى الطباخات والمزارع.  اخترنا نروح باكرا للغدا لأني  كنت أبي أصور المكان من جهاز الآيفون حتى اني نطرت بعض الناس يطلعون على شان أصور عدل.  المهم الأكل كان من طرابلس كان لذيذ جدا ومفيد للي يحبون الأكل الصحي ووقفت روحي اني احط أكل في الصحن للمرة الثالثة من لذة الطعم.  المطعم حببني في بيروت لأني من خلاله قدرت اتذوق عاداتهم وتقاليدهم

Address: Beirut, Sector 79,
 Naher Street 12 (Jisr el-Hadeed), Chalhoub Building 22 
Tel.: 009611448129

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Boudoir Featured on Radisson Blu Blog

Sometime ago I was contacted by Radisson Blu Hotels blog  to help with a feature they're working on about fashion shopping in Kuwait.  As a local, a travel/hotel expert and adviser who loved everything fashion, I was delighted to take part in the questionnaires related to fashion in general in the small state of Kuwait.  Especially since not so many people knew about the country beyond the Gulf War.  First time visitors will find the feature really helpful.  Radisson Blu's blog is really informative when it comes to travel!  

تواصلت معاي احدى المسؤولين عن مدونة فنادق راديسن بلو العالمية قبل فترة بشأن المساعدة في مقالة عن التسوق والأزياء في الكويت.  طبعا حبيت فكرة اني أشارك خاصة اني ودي أعطي صورة عن الكويت بأي طريقة أو لأني ألاحظ ان البعض خارج الوطن العربي ما يعرف عن الكويت غير الغزو. بلوق الفنادق نفسه وايد حلو ويعطي معلومات حلوة عن دول العالم

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lunch at Liza - Beirut, Lebanon

I came across Liza restaurant Beirut on Instagram, and have wanted to dine there (when a trip to Lebanon was in order) ever since.  The place was magical in a sense. Historical yet modern.  So it was the first restaurant we head to for the first meal (excluding the hotel's breakfast buffet) after booking a table through our hotel concierge for lunch.  When we arrived to the homelike premises set in Achrafieh area, we were taken back by how it transferred us to the yesteryear, even though we weren't born at the time, something about the place just made it easy to psychologically time travel to old Beirut.  This was the second opened restaurant, Paris being the home of the first restaurant. Inside everything looked incredible beyond words. 
Marble and brass.
Gold and ivory.
Contrasting wallpapers.
Different wallpapers adorned each rooms.
Liza served Lebanese cuisine with a simple twist.  Half the place was taken over by upper class local women party.  The section occupied was the most beautiful in the restaurant.  I think the high point of the design was the actual wallpapers used, especially the banana room (pictured below). Luckily for me, the manager came up to our table and mentioned that he was my cousin's friend and offered to show me around and give me a bit of history of the place.  I found out there was truly a story behind this house turned to restaurant, one of the main reasons owners Liza and Ziad Asseily chose this place to turn their dream into reality.  Wanting to own this place and turn it into a restaurant.  The food was good, the dessert was what blew me away.  Presentation and taste!  The manager's recommendation and complimentary dessert platter to try their signature options.  We enthusiastically devoured everything, and my ultimate favorite was both the Biscuit Ghandour Rose Lokum (biscuit sandwich with Turkish delight rose icecream) and Sfouf bel Laktine (pumpkin and saffron dessert pictured below). 
Address: Metropolitan Club Doumani Street,
 Trabaud, Achrafieh, Beirut
Opening times: 
Lunch 12:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Dinner 8:00 pm - 11:30 pm
 Brunch Sunday 12:00 - 4:00 pm
Closed Sunday nights and Mondays

Friday, July 24, 2015

My Stay at Le Gray Hotel - Beirut, Lebanon

I haven't been to Lebanon more than a decade.  And when I did I visited Beirut only three times in three consecutive years, I didn't like it much.  It was all about people watching.  I did love the food though, they have one of the best cuisines in the world.  Super sweet locals. It was naturally a beautiful country, with its green mountains.  We've visited various mountain towns which had great sea an city views, the weather was always beautiful in Lebanon.  There's Faraya, which is famous for skiing. At the time, we usually stayed at the famous classic luxurious Phoenicia Intercontinental Hotel Beirut, it was the best at the time and its still one of the best now.  After that things were not stable in the country for a while, and still are but less so. Anyways, earlier this year, we had to go to Beirut on two short visits for a specific reason, the first being for 3 days.  This time I wanted to stay somewhere different, a newer hotel.  Le Gray boutique hotel was nicely situated by the famous Solidere, which is Beirut's downtown.  When we used to travel to Beirut before, it was all about shopping in Solidere in the daytime and dining or having coffee there in the nighttime.  Now things changed and have been different for some years now.  Because of various conflict in the area, its more deserted now, but there's a few new establishments around which are really nice.  The hotel was small but really nice, not that I liked the interiors, it was okay.  But it was a nice neigborhood and the restaurants are really good.

من زمان مو رايحة لبنان تقريبا عشر سنين ووقتها ما كنت حابة بيروت وايد.  الطلعات ما يازتلي الناس تروح تشوف الناس.  الحلو في لبنان جوها والمناظر وخاصة المناطق فوق الجبال مثل فريا واللي مشهورة بالتزلج على الجبال.  المنظر على بيروت والبحر من فوق كان روعة.  غير جذي المطبخ اللبناني هو من أحلى المطابخ بالعالم.  لكن بالنهاية الجو العام مو جوي ولهذا السبب ما كنت اروح مع أهلي لما كانوا يروحون عقب وطبعا بعد الأزمات السياسية تغيرت وايد لبنان وخفت السياحة عنها شوية.  المهم في زيارتي لها هالسنة وهي عبارة عن زيارتين قصيرتين ومتقاربين لأن كان عندي بعض الأشغال اخترت اني أجرب فندق غير فندق انتركونتيننتال فينيسيا اللي كنا متعودين نسكن فيه لأن وقته كان أحلى وأرقى فنادق المدينة.  سكنا في فندف لو قري وهو فندق بوتيك صغير عند حي السوليدير. موقع ممتاز مع ان سوليدير حاليا مو نفسها أيام اللي كنت أروح لبنان.  الفندق زين الغرف العادية والمطاعم حلوة. أنصح فيه بسبب موقعه الممتاز

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