Overlooking the Phoenician harbour of Byblos, this five-star boutique hotel is an easy stroll to Byblos Castle and the Old Souk. It’s the top rated hotel for this ancient city on Trip Advisor and it’s easy to see why. It not only holds a prime location in one of the oldest civilisations in the world; there isn’t a bad room in this affordable, elegant gem – they are all spacious, characterful and offer sea and/or port views.
There’s a personal feel to the hotel, which has just 20 rooms and 10 suites. What’s more, each room is individually decorated. Our deluxe room had a fantastic layout – its standalone rain shower, with frosted glass, separated the bathroom from the bedroom area, which flowed onto the living space and the balcony beyond, with its gorgeous Med Sea views. Artworks, an Oriental rug and handles fashioned from beach pebbles gave a romantic touch; our king size bed was super comfy; and there was everything you’d expect from a contemporary five-star, from a LCD TV to a minibar. Along with generous welcome treats, there was plenty of mineral water included in the daily room service, free Wi-Fi and the bathroom was stocked with Azzaro toiletries.
With its sweeping views, Café Tournesol is the breakfast buffet and all-day dining spot. We enjoyed a good selection of homely local delicacies at breakfast. Mediterranean restaurant Masa is a stunning venue, sitting atop Byzantine and Roman ruins, highlighted with glass flooring and thoughtful lighting. Dine above the sea at Lebanese and seafood restaurant Dar L’Azrak, which is designed like a boat, anchored in the water. Casual beach restaurant and shisha café Al Marsa is located on the hotel’s beachfront.
Who goes there?
Families and culture vultures from the Middle East and Europe.
Out & about:
This city is made for exploring on foot. Founded as Gebal by the Phoenicians, Byblos (known locally as Jbeil, from Gebal) was given its name by the Greeks, who imported papyrus from the city. Hence, the English word bible is derived from Byblos. Must-see sites include ancient Phoenician temples, Byblos Castle and St John the Baptist Church, which was built by crusaders in the 12th century, and the Old Medieval City Wall. Now in its 16th year, The Byblos International Festival takes place in August and features an eclectic musical line-up.
The worst thing:
I couldn’t find a low night light for the bathroom, so ended up waking up the boyfriend.
The best thing:
It struck the perfect balance of being both romantically charming and modern.