Maybe we were just very lucky every time we selected our hotels, but the four places where we stayed were every time more or less perfect. Breakfast was always good, the staff was always well-qualified and spoke English fluently, there was always a possibility to use the internet (although it was sometimes frustratingly slow), electricity was at 220 volt, and you can drink the water from the tap without fear for what is euphemistically called “the curse of the pharaoh” in Egypt and “Saladin’s Revenge” in Syria.
In Beirut, we slept at the Lavender Home****: a friendly place close to the Rue Hamra and the Rue Jeanne d’Arc, which are – to use two ancient words – the cardo and decumanus of the western part of the city. There were many restaurants in the neighborhood (I can recommend Laziz), and if you walk down the Rue Jeanne d’Arc, you are at the American University, with a fine archaeological museum.
In Byblus, we stayed at the Monoberge Hotel*** – we think the name is a pun on Mon Auberge – which offers good rooms and is at walking distance from the city center. Situated along the coastal highway, modestly prized, and recently built, it would be called a motel in Europe.
Our hotel in Tyre was called Rest House****, which is very easy to find because there are many signposts, and you will immediately recognize the Unifil cars on its parking place. It is situated halfway between the Al-Bass and the Al-Mina excavations, and has a large private beach.
The nicest place was the Park Hotel***** in Chtaura. I must confess that the town itself is not very inspiring, but the hotel, close to the main road into the Bekaa Valley, is quiet and has some chique rooms. There was some kind of celebration when we were there, and it was easy to understand why the people had selected this place. Two friendly staff members offered us much advice about planning both the present trip and the next one. Because we were extremely tired on the day of our arrival, we had dinner at the nearby McDonald’s.
Which is a shame, because it is well-known that Lebanon offers one of the world’s best cuisines. Besides, they produce some fine wines in the area of Chtaura and Zahle. It is usually possible to smoke a good water pipe, the local beer (Almaza) is fine, and the Lebanese know how to make a good coffee. This country is a gourmet’s paradise.