Where did you go?
DB: We flew to Beirut and stayed in the ancient Achrafieh quarter. During our short stay we hiked in the Tannourine Cedar forest with a tour group called Living-Lebanon, stayed in the historic Gemayze district and checked out the Lazy B beach club in Jiyeh.
What was your favourite building or design feature?
DB: My favourite design feature was the mind-blowing ceiling in the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque. The Sursock Museum is a stunning building by French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Lebanese architect Jacques Abou Khaled. It is home to some of the best contemporary art I have seen in a long time and the stained-glass windows are beautiful.
What was your accommodation like?
DB: We stayed in Albergo Hotel for a few nights which is a 1930s mansion with a beautiful art nouveau elevator and botanical terrace. The second half of the trip was spent in an amazing hostel called the Saifi Urban Gardens. The atmosphere is great and the amenities are perfect for such a cheap price!
What would you recommend visiting while there?
DB: I recommend going to the aforementioned places, The American University of Beirut as well as Zaha Hadid’s new Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) at the American University of Beirut (AUB). I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to see it and it looks great in this Architects’ Journal feature.
What was the food like?
DB: Outrageously delicious. You have to try, local honeycomb, rose ice-cream, Manakish: tasty bread topped with thyme and cheese and Armenian cuisine. Beirut is famous for its Armenian diaspora and the city if apparently the best place to sample Armenian food outside of Armenia. Try to visit the following restaurants: Liza, Mayrig, Enab, Seza and grab a coffee at Sip Beirut for an interior design eyegasm.
What was particularly surprising about the customs or way of life?
DB: Lebanon’s war-torn past is well known and even though the country’s civil war has ended, Lebanon shares borders with both Syria and Israel which can deter many tourists from visiting. However, the people are so friendly, the food is incredible and Beirut, for us, felt safe for tourism. Other than Beirut’s vibrant art sector, perhaps we were most surprised by the City’s flourishing nightlife!
How would you summarise your experience in a sentence?
DB: An insight into the excellence of Middle Eastern history, art and cuisine.