I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to travel far to
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
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.
“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 reception area|
|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|
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
|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 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.
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).
|Bruschetta on sourdough croute|
|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.
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.
Post a Comment