A Luxurious Staycation at O Monot Boutique Hotel

Driving down Monot, I couldn’t help but think that less than a decade ago, this very street was the nightlife bastion of Beirut. Littered with bars, restaurants, and night clubs, the unidirectional cobblestone lane would teem with revelers shuffling from one outlet to the next, in search of nightlife nirvana.

Today, however, Monot is a rather quiet quartier, host to a wine cellar, a gluten-free bakery, an organic eatery, and at its very edge, Beirut’s premier boutique hotel. Towering formidably over Saifi Village with a panoramic vista of Beirut’s downtown and port, O Monot is hardly two years old but has already snatched distinction as a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World.



The O Monot rooftop boasts a bar, pool, loungers, and sofas

We pulled into the adjacent parking lot and peered up at the imposing edifice, eager to become acquainted with its ethos even if for a mere 24 hours. Walking past the glass sliding doors into a smart, divan-decked lobby, we were greeted by Khadija, who in her expert English checked us in, offered us welcome drinks, and led us on a tour of the premises from the bottom up. Meanwhile, our bag was swiftly collected by a bell boy and placed in our room.



The lengthy lobby is tastefully architected by Lebanese interior designer Claude Missir

The immediate impression taking shape in my head was how scrupulously relaxed the hotel is, totally detached from its environs. The length-wise lobby terminates in a den doubling as a bar, where wood-and-brass staggered bookshelves house a volume of antiquated Encyclopedia Britannica and artsy knickknacks from every corner of the globe. 



The lobby bookshelves


And to think we once used those voluminous texts!

It’s evident an interior architect has waved his wand here -- namely Claude Missir -- because the space conjures up soul. You could easily lose all sense of time curled up with a book, engaging in a game at the chess table, or if business calls, exploiting the hotel laptop.



Now showing photo 10, Lobby Bar
One end of the lengthy lobby lounge*


Yet with summer unloading its splendor across Lebanon, we were itching to capitalize on the outdoors, and the rooftop was our haven.

But first, a sneak peek of the bedroom!


A sweet, personal welcome from the hotel management!



Executive Room

Our spacious and stylish sleeping quarters were underscored by superb LED lighting. There are no less than four buttons in both bathroom and bedroom to exact which lights you want! The color motif is white and purple, markers of nobility, and indeed we felt like elites as we took in our chamber.

A California King with sets of soft and firmer pillows placate every sleeper’s whims. The closets evoke those you’d find in your own home, with lit shelf space, an armoire, and drawers. 


Now showing photo 26, Deluxe Room
The Executive Room*


In the bathroom, a capacious tub surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass panels provides a view of the bedroom, but you can also draw down the shades for privacy. Across from the tub is a shower cabinet, where high-pressure water jettisons from a rain shower and an adjustable showerhead.  


Now showing photo 25, Executive Bathroom
A full-size bathtub with a view of the room*

Everything’s where you’d expect it to be, as if you’d outfitted the room yourself. A blow-dryer is tucked in a sliding drawer below the sink. The plushest slippers I’ve ever set foot in can be found inside a closet drawer. The Nespresso machine sits above a see-through mini-fridge. And if you turn on the white-framed Loewe LCD TV, the sound feeds into the bathroom speakers, so you can watch your favorite soaps from the comfort of the tub. Fancy.



Pool & Rooftop

After settling into our room and nibbling on the offered mignardises, we wasted not a second further, alighting at the rooftop for some desperate sunbathing. Staking out the corner loungers that peer over Beirut, we stripped down to our swimwear and ordered rosé from the poolside bar to set the mood.


Rosé wine is served with a selection of premium nuts

Roasted soy beans, pistachios, and peanuts rounded out the affair as we slipped into a complacent trance beneath the shade of the parasol. We broke the heat spell with sporadic dips into the cool waters of the pool. 

The beauty of the rooftop is that you can have it all – sun, pool, views, drinks and gastronomic cuisine – in one compact space. And if it’s solitude you’re after, you can even book the adjunct terrace that accommodates private parties.


Perched high in the sky, neck to neck with Achrafieh's apartment towers


The view from the rooftop includes the Saifi Village skyline



Gastronomic Cuisine

By nightfall, the rooftop animated with large groups of outside guests seeking the scrumptious creations of Chef Jerome Anfray. A selection of salads, starters, sandwiches and mains flesh out the decidedly continental menu. With bold recommendations from staff members Tarif and Mourched, we started with the greens, a beautiful prelude to what lay beyond.

I’m still torn as to which was the star of the dish, the bouquet of frisée and green apple slivers tossed in a mustard vinaigrette and finished with balsamic reduction, or the two warmed individually-portioned goat cheese hockey pucks smothered with crushed pistachio atop whole-wheat bread (28,000 LL). Sublime.



Warmed goat cheese crusted with pistachio, alongside a refreshing green salad

The Scottish smoked salmon (40,000 LL) arrived on two plates, one heaped with the thin-sliced fish, the other, an arrangement of sucrine lettuce each cradling cubes of avocado and sun-dried tomato, drizzled with a lemony vinaigrette. Simple couldn’t be more beautiful.


Smoked salmon with a side sucrine salad.
And did I mention the French baguettes are baked in-house?


My filet de boeuf (70,000 LL), a hunk of premium beef tenderloin, sported a browned crispy exterior surrendering beneath the flourish of the knife to expose a moist pink interior. Sided by quartered mushrooms, two solitary asparagus, and a metal cage of fries, the steak was one of the best I’ve had in a long time.


A succulent beef tenderloin with mushroom sauce

The pavé de saumon could vie with a bar of butter for its suppleness, as the chef cooks it “à l’uniteral”, on one side only. A refreshing parsley pesto together with a ratatouille of julienned vegetables make this the ultimate diet-friendly dish.


A filet of salmon cooked on one side, sided by a parsley pesto


We could have easily ended our feast here, but Chef Jerome emerged from the kitchen to make our acquaintance. A charming, down-to-earth character whose cuisine reflects his own disposition, he planted in us a keen curiosity to witness his flair in the dessert department. Good thing we gave in, because it was the proverbial cherry on top!

Vanilla bean ice cream and strawberry sorbet take their throne among clouds of homemade whipped cream, fresh strawberries, coulis, and wands of sprinkled meringue. Now this is how you dress up ice cream!


Strawberry and vanilla vacherin. I'll let the photo do the talking.

Tummies more than tickled, we descended to our room for what proved to be a soothing slumber.



Breakfast

The best thing about waking up, besides knowing you’ve made it through another sunrise, is having someone prepare breakfast for you at your own leisure. Around mid-morning, we sauntered up to the 10th floor where a cozy den greeted us. Graced with a glass-door fireplace, chesterfield sofas, and a huge HDTV, this room has a cozy corner cut out for cold wintry nights and cuddling.



Now showing photo 15, Restaurant
The restaurant on the 10th floor has a cozy den overlooking Beirut Port and Saifi Village*

We sat down at one of the marble tables, where Abbas and Hilal took our orders for fresh orange juice and almost anything we desired in the way of nourishment. Sure, there was a printed menu with à la carte options, but that was more a guide, as the kitchen was willing to whip up any whim of ours.

Dense countryside labneh, tart green olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil and a basket of house-baked viennoiserie began their parade on our table. 


The breakfast spread

I flirted with the idea of pancakes with maple syrup, and before my conscience could dissuade me, an inch-thick, fluffy, aromatic disc was placed before me with a pitcher of syrup. Delivering the same pleasure as three pancakes packed into one, it sated even though my mind moaned for a reprise.


A fluffy, buttery pancake with maple syrup and fresh chilled orange juice



Parting Words

A stay like this, and you can bet we asked for a late check-out. We exploited our final few hours lazing between bedroom and the bar-library on the ground floor.  

It is hard to find fault with O Monot, from the modern-chic aura of the hotel and its sophisticated rooms, to the crib of magic that is the rooftop, to the impeccable gastronomy of the kitchen. I was left speechless and could barely string together a “thank you” on our way out.

Then again, I always did prefer the written word.




A deluxe room starts at $225 per night, and an executive room is $249. Both include breakfast. For more details on rooms, rates, and bookings, visit http://www.slh.com/hotels/o-monot/. You can also nab promotional rates on booking.com

*Photos marked with an asterisk were pulled from the O Monot website.

Monot Street
Saifi - Beirut, Lebanon
+961 1 338 777

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