A Weekend Getaway at Le Gray Beirut

Self-described as a “modern classic for Beirut,” Gordon Campbell’s Le Gray Hotel takes its throne in the historic downtown district. Many pass by its edifice, failing to realize what lies within. Straddling Virgin Megastore on one side and Annahar on the other, the five-star property opened its doors in 2010 and is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. 


Le Gray sits in the heart of Beirut Central District


Intimately acquainted with Le Gray’s food and beverage outlets, we know our way around the nuances of each: Gordon Café’s signature cakes and loose-leaf teas; Indigo on the Roof’s superior Wagyu steak and sole fish; Cherry on the Rooftop’s swanky bellinis and fresh sushi bites.

But for years now, we’ve entertained a pressing curiosity about the action happening on floors 2-5. Accessible exclusively to hotel guests, those levels would help us form a more global and holistic impression of Le Gray, one to complement our dining visits and admiration of the hotel's modern decor.

So the first weekend of July, we checked in to an Executive Suite.


Guest rooms stem from a circular atrium defining the center of the hotel


Accommodation

Make no mistake: 60 square meters is supremely spacious for a suite. In fact, the living area boasts a full-size sofa, two armchairs, a metallic coffee table, a glass dining table, and a wooden work desk. Two floor-to-ceiling double-pane doors open to steel-rung balconies. Upon our arrival, a pair of apples greeted us—epicurean indulgence would have to wait—as we sized up our chamber from A to Z.


The living area of the suite

The bathroom is a marvelous escape: a duo of generous sinks for him and her, locally crafted hand soaps, a TV embedded in the wall to keep one company during a soothing bath or shower.


The floor is a mosaic of hand-laid tiles
Care for some TV as you bathe?


The bed is snug, not gigantic but ample. There are book lights on either side that activate by tapping the lamp gently with your fingers.


The Executive Suite


And these amenities are precisely what you look forward to at a first-rate property like Le Gray. At the desk, there’s a series of outlets accommodating a variety of international plugs (though oddly enough, I didn’t spot the American one). The in-room espresso machine is no lesser than a Jura-Capresso ENA 3, which does everything from grind to brew using high pressure, resulting in a better-tasting coffee.


In-room espresso machine grinds beans and brews coffee


In the evening, around 7 pm, two housemaids come round to primp up the room, replacing bathroom towels and water bottles and placing bedroom slippers on either side of the bed. The duvet is folded back, luring you to dive in, but not so fast – time for a pick-me-up!



Cherry on the Rooftop

Alight at the 6th floor and make your way to the pool area, which after 6 p.m. is closed to hotel guests and transformed into a plush white lounge. While unfortunate that the majestic infinity pool closes before sunset, perhaps the sacrifice is well worth it, because at 8:30 p.m. Cherry belts out smooth tunes, delicious bites, and impeccable cocktails. On Saturdays, singer Cinda RamSeur diffuses energetic vibes with pop and rock music.


By sunset, the pool area transforms into a lounge
Armchairs, sofas, and high tables accommodate lounge guests

The food menu here is an ode to sushi lovers but also features a selection of crudités, sliders, and other dainty bites. While the cocktail carte seems to encompass every potion you can conjure up, don’t overlook the house specialty, a delectable passionfruit martini.

Sushi bites
Cherry's signature passionfruit martini




Indigo on the Roof

Just across from a donut-shaped lounge encircling a vast atrium, Indigo on the Roof sits in all its stately, illuminated grandeur. Guests indoors can enjoy watching the chefs at work in a semi-open kitchen, while lovers of al fresco dining will relish in the garden terrace with views of Roman ruins.


The Lounge connecting Indigo and Cherry boasts an ever-changing art exhibition

A resplendent chandelier is suspended from the peak of the atrium

Come here for the culinary riches of British Executive Chef Darren Andow, who reaches Beirut most recently from Bahrain’s ART Rotana. Inspiring starters include pan-seared scallops that melt like butter on the tongue, contrasted with crispy veal bacon, creamed leeks, and truffle vinaigrette (36,000 LL).


Pan-seared scallops with veal bacon atop creamed leeks


You’d be remiss if you didn’t slice into the tender Wagyu beef filet, 200 grams of marble score 7 meat that’ll swiftly recuperate you from the hit to your wallet (125,000 LL). Two grilled mushroom caps cupping butter and roasted vine-ripe cherry tomatoes make this dish easily the most coveted on the entire menu. Round it out with garlic mash (11,000 LL) drizzled generously with olive oil.


Wagyu steak marble score 7

Diner à deux: grilled sole, Wagyu steak,
garlic mash, seasonal salad, and marinated mushrooms


Desserts are lessons in modern art, particularly the assembly of the Caramel and Chocolate (16,000 LL). Trust that its vague name does it no justice, and even a sweets connoisseur might fumble trying to enumerate all the components. But in the white frame of the long platter, expect raspberry jelly, iced parfait, crushed shortbread with poppy seeds, whipped cream, hazelnuts, and dehydrated goji berries.


Caramel & Chocolate dessert: iced parfait with crushed shortbread, cream, and raspberry jelly 


Breakfast Buffet

In the morning, Indigo sprawls out its Sunday best with an assortment of breakfast favorites, including viennoiserie, miniature manakish, homemade bread, toast, muffins, and donuts. There are cereals and yogurts along with compotes, jams, and fresh fruit. Strained yogurt (labneh), local and international cheeses, as well as cold cuts and smoked salmon flesh out the savory selection.



Viennoiserie: escargots and Danishes

Fresh fruit

A selection of Lebanese cheeses


Nibble on your favorites as your hot dishes are being prepared. In the Lebanese corner, cooked fava beans with chickpeas (foul mdammas) and semolina cheesecake (knefe) vie for your attention, whereas pancakes, oats, and eggs every way imaginable compete under the banner of international plates. 


Fava beans (foul mdammas)
Pancakes with maple syrup

The porridge is a wholesome choice, merging the steely grain with whole milk, banana, cinnamon and as much honey as you require.


Oats with banana and cinnamon



Infinity Pool

If by exercise you mean luxurious infinity pool with chlorine-free fresh water cascading gently over purple glass embankments, coupled with the ultimate perch over the Mediterranean and Martyrs' Square, I’m on board. 

17-meters in length with a zig-zag edge contouring the indoor bar area, this little oasis is the perfect nest atop Beirut’s hippest hotel. Chaise-longues and a self-service towel cupboard outfit the space, which offers light healthy dishes, fresh juices, smoothies, and loose-leaf teas. The only drawback is that guests are shooed out at 6 p.m., in preparation for Cherry’s evening blossom.

View from the pool



Closing Remarks

On several occasions, I’ve brushed past the likes of English pop artist John Newman and Swedish singer-songwriter John Martin staying at Le Gray. These prominent artists embody what Le Gray might be in the personified state: artistic, hip, and ultra-modern. And just as they are up-and-coming artists with a brilliant future before them, Le Gray too carries oodles of potential at becoming Beirut’s bastion of smart hospitality.

Hardly stuffy and far from being pretentious, this is your destination for topnotch dining and opulent overnight stays in a central albeit cozy setting. 


The magnificent atrium spirals upward in a sweeping fashion




A deluxe double room starts at $249, excluding 10% VAT and 12.5% service charges. For more details on rooms, rates, and reservations, visit http://www.campbellgrayhotels.com/le-gray/rooms/overview. You can also nab promotional rates on https://www.booking.com.

Beirut Central District
Beirut - Lebanon
Reception: +961 1 971 111
Reservations: +961 1 962 828


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