The Grazia girl's guide to brilliant Beirut

Chic, culturally rich and with outstanding cuisine, here’s exactly what you have to do to get the most out of your trip to the effortlessly cool city
The Grazia girl's guide to brilliant Beirut

Take a trip to the clouds

Frozen Cherry is not your average hotspot. The open space on the slopes of the Zaarour mountains, overlooking a breathtaking view of Lebanon above the clouds, is an enriching life experience. It’s so remote that when you Google Map it, there’s literally nothing around the pin drop. Spooky. The drive up the mountains takes just under two hours, but you don’t notice. We recommend you arrive at 6pm, (it opens at 5:30pm and closes at 1am) to secure the best viewing spot. Nibble finger food (the mozzarella bricks are moreish) as the sun sets and enjoy soft house music playing in the background. The high-altitude party place is a seriously cool (literally and physically) destination.

 Meander around Mar Mikhaël

The residential and commercial neighbourhood is a fashionable area with cafes, restaurants, art galleries, bakeries and shops. The artistic streets are full of colour and the vibe is upbeat. From its iconic stairs, rendered by Paint Up - a collective dedicated to the aesthetic enhancement of urban spaces which has succeeded in putting Beirut on the global map of street art - to its old buildings turned into quirky restaurants, Mar Mikhaël is undoubtedly where the popular kids hang out. And while you are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating and drinking, we suggest making time for The Happy Prince on Alexander Flemming Street. The low-lit venue serves tasty Lebanese grape and the most delicious steak we’ve eaten in the Middle East. Fact.

Stay in style at Four Seasons Beirut

The world-renowned hotel’s downtown location makes it perfectly placed for access to the seductive city. Warm, charming and local staff tend to your every need, and the daily Lebanese breakfast, held in the Grill Room, is simply stunning. Think halloumi, string cheese and labneh in olive oil, plus fresh eggs and fluffy manakeesh covered in lamb meat, Akkawi cheese and zaatar. Divine.
Burn off breakfast by taking a dip in the pool, which boasts unobstructed views of the city, sea and mountains. And in the evening, the 26th-floor rooftop of the five-star hotel offers one of the best views in the entire city – it’s Beirut’s highest rooftop lounge, no less. Thank us later.

Step back in time in Byblos

The unspoilt coastal town is 40km north of Beirut and is believed to have been first occupied between 8800 and 7000 BC. Basically, it’s one of the oldest cities in the world. Quaint souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants live here. It’s worth taking a walk around the Crusader-era castle, which dates back to the 12th century - the views across the Mediterranean Sea are fantastic. The pretty fishing port also offers worthwhile photo opportunities and lazy seafood lunch options. The cobbled souks add to the feeling that time stands still here, and it’s nice to take a minute to enjoy it.

Cuddle cats on campus

Taking a stroll through the American University of Beirut is a real highlight. Positioned high up in the city, the views down below of the Mediterranean Sea are wow-factor. But perhaps even better, AUB is home to dozens of cats. Why? Well, during the war, people exiting the country would drop their pet cats at the campus, believing it was a safe option for them. And, put simply, they never left. Roaming around one of the most prestigious universities in the Middle East, cats and student operate in perfect harmony in the sunshine. Still, we’re told the friendly felines are looking for a happily-ever-after, and you can adopt or foster one if you wish.

Photos: Supplied