Radisson Blu Beirut: A Getaway in the Heart of the Capital

I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to travel far to make memories.

Sure, Paris is dotted with heart-throbbing landmarks, and Milan is heaven for the fashion-forward. The Greek isles would satisfy any sea-loving recluse, and Lord knows London is a thriving epicurean epicenter.

But a change of pace doesn’t require a change of country or continent. Sometimes, the trick is simply getting away from home. The requisite time for refreshing, you ask? An overnight stay. Waking up in new environs is utter catharsis.

Which would explain why a few weekends ago, my husband and I found ourselves checking in to the Radisson Blu Martinez in Ain Mreisseh, tucked along a quiet street behind Phoenicia.

The Radisson is no humble hotel. Boasting 185 rooms and suites with free turbo-speed Wi-Fi throughout the property, the upscale international chain has an enviable indoor pool, a charming breakfast buffet, and genuinely dedicated staff who don’t stare down at you.

Welcome and Accommodation

From the minute we arrived, we were overcome with a homey feel. Georges swiftly checked us in at the front desk before summoning his colleague Kassem to accompany us to our room on the sixth floor.

The reception area

A spacious “business class” affair of no less than 40 sq.m., the room is fully outfitted with a California King bed, sofa, armchairs, desk, and a Nespresso machine with half a dozen capsules. On our beds, white bathrobes and plush slippers beckoned us temptingly. 

The Business Class room comes outfitted with a California King bed, sofa, armchairs,
and a desk area

A Nespresso machine with half a dozen capsules make for welcome amenities

But first we were keen on basking in the exclusive Business Lounge at the opposite end of the perfumed hall. There, Rita greeted us warmly and pointed to the refrigerated display of sodas, beer, water, and fresh fruit. Along the wall, a table was neatly arranged with tea, coffee, wine, and finger foods. Desktop computers are at the guest’s disposal, as are newspapers from every corner of the globe. 

But the real showstopper is the length-wise terrace where you can lounge, slug back a bottle or two, and take in the calm of the quartier, which ironically enough sits right behind Ain Mreisseh’s busiest street.

The Business Lounge affords a tranquil seating area both indoors and outdoors

Fitness Center

It was time to explore the InShape Health Club, featuring a beautiful 25-m long pool set against a Roman pillared theme with embossed wall art and statues. A Jacuzzi affords you the ultimate release, but for the more resolute, a sauna and steam room are nestled in each of the men’s and women’s private rest areas. 

The pool is set against a beautiful Roman setting. The Jacuzzi lies at its edge

Showers, toilets, dressing rooms, and lockers are convenient for hotel non-guests subscribed to the wellness center. Open daily from 6 am to 11 pm, InShape also comprises a gym with cardio-health and bodybuilding machines, an aerobics and dance area, and massage therapy treatments.

The gym enjoys a front row seat to the pool below

We could finally detoxify from the workweek’s worries and ease into an indulgent state. After an hour of swimming and sloshing, euphoria overcame us. Only hunger could tear us away from this oasis, and with fantasies of a gourmet affair swirling in our heads, we frisked up to the hotel’s restaurant Olivos.

Olivos Restaurant at the Radisson Blu

Restaurant & Cuisine

On offer, either a comprehensive set menu for the occasion of Ramadan ($30 per person) or à la carte dining. We opted for the latter, devouring the menu with our eyes as we conjured up images of honey-glazed duck, aubergine wraps, and sourdough bruschetta.

A rather ambiguous label of "Almost 100% Italian" aged balsamic vinegar and
extra virgin olive oil. Could the balance be sourced locally?

Jenny filled our glasses with chilled white wine and planted a basket of warm bread rolls between us. Within minutes, heaven descended upon our table in the form of toasted sourdough decked with vine-ripe plum tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, red onions and crushed garlic finished with olive oil. 

Bruschetta on sourdough croute

This generous duo of Italian tartines (at a mere 6,000 LL) was soon followed by thin-sliced grilled eggplant hugging cherry tomatoes, capers and sun-dried tomatoes, all adorned with Parmesan shavings (13,000 LL).

Aubergine rolls stuffed with salsa

Intoxicated with our Mediterranean prelude, we longed for the mains. The pièce de résistance, and surely a token of Chef Ihab’s culinary finesse, was the honey duck breast resting on two slabs of fondant potato drenched in plum- and thyme-scented jus. Pickled cherries, carrot ribbons, buttered broccoli and snow peas rounded out the dish aesthetics (35,000 LL).

Honey-glazed duck breast on potato fondant

The pan-seared chicken breast (25,000 LL) was equally prominent, stuffed with wild mushrooms and basil farce finished with tomato concasse, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil emulsion served on sautéed mushrooms. This plate makes dieting look easy!

Pan-seared chicken breast on sauteed mushroom 

It was a weekend getaway after all, so dessert was in order. A thin-shell chocolate crust spewed forth silky chocolate lava and came crowned with a dollop of vanilla bean and crushed pistachios. A candidate for Beirut’s best chocolate fondant? Without question, and for a mere 9,000 LL, its value is unsurpassed.

Chocolate lava dome cradling vanilla ice cream and crushed pistachios

Tummies sated, we shuffled up to our chamber, visions of soft pillows and a comfy mattress dancing in our heads. It was indeed a restful night, with not a murmur from the outside. 

Super Buffet Breakfast

The next morning, we graced the Super Buffet Breakfast spread generously across the upper deck at Olivos. If you thought dinner was mind-blowing, brunch was sheer bliss. Served between 6:30 and 11 am and open to non-guests for only 33,000 LL, breakfast doesn’t leave a stone unturned.

Viennoiserie, muffins, a selection of fresh-baked bread, jams, honeycomb, cheeses, deli, salmon, cooked pulses (makhlouta) with all the fixings, hummus, baba ghannouj, tabbouleh, chickpea salad, beef and pork sausages, bacon, eggs in tin ramequins, omelets à la minute, roasted tomatoes and potatoes. 


Homemade jams (cherry, apricot, marmalade) and honeycomb in the background

Clockwise from top left: Tabbouleh, chickpea salad, hummus, and baba ghannouj

A selection of deli, salmon, and cheeses

Hot dishes include beef or pork sausages, potatoes, tomatoes, and makhlouta

How about fresh and dried fruits, figs, dates, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, raw nuts and cereal? To wet your lips, fruit smoothies, fresh-squeezed orange juice, mint-flavored water, lemon in water, and a Morning Mary DIY station.

Dried fruits, raw nuts and seeds

Cute pouches of cereal and milk in glass bottles

Fresh squeezed orange juice--I love the glass corked bottles!

Make your own Morning Mary

I was rendered speechless by the breadth of the buffet and the constant replenishment of platters even up to closing time. Beyond this, the presentation donned a rustic, fresh-from-the-farm experience complete with glass corked bottles of milk and juice, brown paper bags and twine thread. 

Final Words

The Radisson Blu front-desk graciously granted us a late checkout, so we exploited the health club for one more vigorous workout. After all the noshing, nothing felt more salubrious. We also took a few minutes to bid the Business Lounge goodbye with farewell refreshments. By 2 pm we were out, back into the heavy heat of the Beirut summer air.

And yet we hardly noticed. We were in a vacation trance and already plotting our next weekend getaway.

A Standard Guest Room starts at $119 USD, and a Business Class Room including breakfast is only $179 USD. For more details on rooms, rates, and bookings, visit https://www.radissonblu.com/.  

Note: the first seven photos in this feature were pulled from the Radisson Blu Beirut website.

Phoenicia St.
Ain el Mreisseh
Beirut, Lebanon
+961 1 368 111


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