Fleeing the City For the City: An Unforgettable Stay at Gefinor Rotana

As city dwellers, we rarely think of escaping to the city. I often joke that downtown Beirut is my second home, since I spend nearly as much (and occasionally more) time there as I do at our residence in the Beirut ‘burbs.
But when an opportunity arose to stay over at the Gefinor Rotana, a towering five-star hotel in the heart of Clemenceau and Hamra, I couldn’t resist, even if it were midweek and work obligations loomed over us the next day.

14 hours is easily the briefest hotel stay I’ve ever been privy to. You can probably reduce that duration to 6 waking hours, as the balance were spent in slumber sprawled across a spacious king bed.
We arrived to our overnight hosts on a Thursday evening, having driven no more than one mile westward from our workplaces in downtown Beirut. A valet steered the car to its nest for the night, while we hastened into the lobby, past the security checkpoint and to the reception desk. There, Paul and Majeda welcomed us to Lebanon and asked how our flight …

A Comforting Lenten Menu at Bou Melhem

We’re approaching the middle of the Lenten season, which for many Lebanese Christians translates to a time of abstinence and austerity. Meatless meals become the order of the day, and it can often be a real challenge selecting something suitable to eat when dining out.
Fortunately, much of the Lebanese cold mezza is vegetarian and, in some cases, strictly vegan. But in no time at all, the usual suspects of hummus, moutabbal, hindbeh, and tagine become as tired as a worn-out shoe. You need something fresh, something saucy, something just plain different.

Kudos to Bou Melhem restaurant in Sin el Fil who is one of the few to introduce a whole new menu tailored to the sober season. Last summer, I dedicated an entire week to indulging in Bou Melhem's plats du jourdelivered to the comfort of my office. This time, I enjoyed a hearty vegetarian spread, and what follows is a breakdown of my favorite items.
Calamari Pesto is exactly as it sounds: slivers of squid rings tossed in a light, crea…

Continuing the Spa Sagas: Grand Hills Hotel in Broumana

Remember a little while ago when I said you don't need an occasion for self-pampering? That Valentine’s Day or not, you can still enjoy a little romance and self-love outside a commercial pretext?
We decided it was time for another spa session, but this time our sanctuary lay in the pine-covered mountains of Broumana. In fact, the weather was dreary and wintry, with rain pounding the hilly terrain and temperatures flirting with a chilly 10°C.

We arrived to the majestic Grand Hills Hotel, part of The Luxury Collection by Starwood. From the lobby, the spa is a quick sprint across a square courtyard, and once inside, we were greeted by a young specialist named Ghina who invited us to tea and detox water. Formalities aside, we descended in the elevator, beholding the painstaking detail on its floor fashioned from marble and mosaic tiles. Seconds later, the doors slid open, and we were led to a private chamber.

Our room benefited from a beautiful vista of pine trees and hence a deluge of…

An Exclusive Sneak Peek at Crepaway’s New Light Menu Items

It’s been exactly one year since Crepaway launched a dozen and half new items to coincide with a picturesque new menu booklet—Mango’s World and Deep Sea Baby for the win! Beginning Monday, March 20, the light menu will debut four salads, two ciabatta sandwiches, a fish platter, and a dessert, and I had the rare privilege to try them all in advance. You read it here first!
Crepaway has jumped on the jar bandwagon, which has been trending across the casual dining sphere for some time now. Jars & Co. was perhaps the first to introduce the concept to Lebanon, and more recently Four Seasons Grill Room has been featuring small-portioned jarred salads and tartares in their Sunday buffet spread.
So, too, is Crepaway gung-ho about layering glass containers with a fresh array of ingredients. The sauce comes on the side, left to you to pour and shake. Who doesn’t enjoy a little play time with their food?

First up, the Buffalo Chicken Salad, which combines shredded iceberg, avocado, salsa fresca…

When Paper Moon Hits Your Eye (and Stomach), That's Amore

There may be no shortage of Italian eateries in Lebanon, let alone in Beirut, but as the saying goes, “più siamo, meglio è.” (You caught me. I merely Google-translated “the more, the merrier” from English to Italian. Cunning, am I not?)
The latest is Paper Moon, modeled after the iconic restaurant in Milan which for decades has been the haunt of fashion, business, sports, and entertainment personalities. Paper Moon’s pillars include fresh Italian cuisine, smart service, a cozy ambiance, and a gallery of legendary Hollywood celebrities in B&W strung from the walls.
Three months ago, the Abdel Wahab quartier in Achrafieh welcomed Paper Moon to its neighborhood, transposing a house into a modern, chic space complete with bar, wood-fired oven, and terrace. While perhaps one too many tables occupies the interior, this is likely in the vein of the Milanese parent institution, which insists that all elements be preserved and reproduced across the entire family of restaurants (there are two…