Broumana Awakens After A Long Hibernation
Summer after summer, I watched in despair as Broumana took on the air of a ghost town. Once the choice destination for Lebanese and Arab tourists seeking cool respite from the treacherous Beirut heat, Broumana boasts tree-lined streets, fresh forest air, and a mountainous terrain blanketed with cone-bearing pines.
For more than a decade, the dwindling footfall saw a number of huge hospitality venues shutter, namely Grand Hills. The huge village-like resort was once host to international beauty pageants, but with Broumana falling from its throne as top of mind for locals and foreigners alike, Grand Hills became a dark and abandoned haunted house of sorts.
Eating out options in Broumana were numbered; Falafel Freiha, Farouj el Achkar, and the storied Gargote/Gargotier ensemble rounding out the list. It pained me to see a beautiful city recede in renown and resplendence to near oblivion.
This year, however, something drastic is happening. Change is palpable, and it's started with the reopening of Grand Hills. Further up the street, Printania, another famed hotel whose heyday dates back to pre-war Lebanon, has leased out its garden to a collection of venues, including Cinco Lounge, Milana Trattoria e Pizzeria, Le Jardin, Sushi Ko, Magnolia Bakery and Peter’s Grill (opening soon).
|At the opening of Printania Villa on June 30, 2016|
Loop around to the rear of the edifice on the lower main road, and behold Printania Villa, a food and drink hub featuring Duo, Blackrock, Pablo Escobar, C Garden, Clown Lounge and a selection of small vendors like Spliced and Sliced, Wrap ‘n Roll, and Juice Box.
|Printania Villa sits on the lower main street of Broumana|
Up the street, just beyond the longstanding Crepaway stronghold, Dany’s Diner and Brew Moon perch across from Lebanese restaurant Nasma and what is perhaps Broumana's most antiquated eatery, Manhattan. There are also a handful of pubs throbbing with nightlife revelers, and with the highly successful Main Street leading the pack, a full house can be expected daily.
Copas, a Mexican joint, has relocated to where the two main highways in Broumana converge, taking its place next to Mamamia, an American-Italian establishment hailing from Ras el Matn.
Of course, the enduring Pub Street nestled close to Gargote continues to draw out a crowd at Blend, Moods, Cheers Club, Wanted, Joy, and Drink & Sing Karaoke.
Perhaps what has truly put Broumana on every foodie’s map is the presence of a trio of Lebanese fine dining institutions. Burj el Hamam has made its home among the pine trees for decades, featuring a beautiful indoor venue fit for weddings and social gatherings in addition to an enviable outdoor terrace flanked by nature.
|The majestic interior of Burj el Hamam in Broumana (photo credit: sobeirut.com)|
Kasr Fakhreddine invites guests to its palatial grounds around a classically authentic spread, and Mounir boasts a lush garden with cascading waterfalls and panoramic views over the sea.
|Kasr Fakhreddine looks out over the valley (photo credit: sobeirut.com)|
I’m over the moon about Broumana’s revival after years of hibernation. Our home is but a 10-minute drive away, which means Broumana heads the list for out and about shenanigans. Given that it is degrees cooler than the coast and continues to enjoy the charm of an old, quaint village, I hope it will become a go-to for residents in the nearby vicinity.