Choosing well where to stay in Beirut is key for a successful visit. The city is still somewhat divided (post-war scars) and its neighborhoods are layered and varied. Additionally, it’s pretty complicated to move around.
To us, a perfect neighborhood must have interesting cultural sights, great food and entertainment while at the same time being adequately connected to the rest of the city. Additionally, like anywhere in the world, it has to be safe. In the case of Beirut, this means avoiding neighborhoods outside of Central Beirut altogether.
The following are our favorite 5 neighborhoods. We loved every single one of them and spend hours walking, having coffee, people watching and admiring architecture. We are sure you’ll find the perfect one for you.
The Best Places to Stay in Beirut
City Center (Downtown Beirut)
Beirut City Center – Centre Ville refers to the area around historical Nijmeh Square. This beautiful art deco square houses four interesting buildings: the Lebanese Parliament, The Clock Tower, and two Greek churches.
The so-called green line that divided East and West Beirut during the war went right through this area. After the war, the center was brilliantly reconstructedbringing important historical buildings back to their glory.
Though it’s probably the most beautiful area in the whole of Beirut, it somehow lacks identity and feels somewhat empty. On the other hand, both old landmarks and the most spectacular new venuesof Beirut are here.
O Monot Boutique Hotel Beirut
We loved the roof terrace and the pool at the O Monot Boutique Hotel. It is one of the only two hotels inside the historic core. All of the rooms come with a seating area and a coffee machine.
If you have the money, spend it at the Intercontinental Phoenicia. The luxurious property is at the end of the city center towards the Zaitunay Bay. All of their beautifully appointed rooms offer great views. The hotel features a fully equipped spa, a gym and two swimming pools.
Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhäel
Cross the giant George Haddad Boulevard and walkabout Gouraud Street to get to the heart of cool Gemmayzeh. It was the first gentrified neighborhood in Beirut back in the 2000s and we liked it a lot. Due to its vibe, this is one of the best places to stay in Beirut.
Let’s be clear, in Gemmayzeh gentrification didn’t result in foreign boring low-quality franchises (no Starbucks!). It’s all local here. Thus the area offers loads of great coffee shops and restaurants.People are vibrant and more than happy to chat and show you around.
Some of Beirut’s nicest villas are in the area. Don’t miss the Sursock Palace and the Nicolas Sursock Museum. If you continue along Gouraud Street you’ll notice its name changes to Armenia Street. This is where Gemmayzeh officially ends and Mar Mikhaël begins.
Beirut has many 5-star hotels, but only a few have such a historic charm as the spectacular Arthaus Beirut. The hotel sits on the grounds of a Roman villa. You can see the archaeological remains in the garden. Each of their seven rooms is tastefully decorated and there is a fabulous sitting lounge. Book in advance!
Hotel Lost is just across the city center, at the beginning of the Gemmayzeh neighborhood. It’s a beautifully designed boutique hotel with super comfy beds and chic furniture. Book a room with a balcony for ultimate pleasure.
Achrafieh and Badaro
Achrafieh, located south of Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael is probably the city’s most elegant neighborhood. Allow yourself to get lost and you’ll encounter some outstanding villas. One of Beirut’s main shopping malls is here too. We are talking about ABC Achrafieh.
From Achrafieh walk up north and you’ll reach Badaro, an interesting modern neighborhood. Its main street Badaro is home to unique architecture from the 50s.
The splendid National Museum is behind the corner. It is the largest and most important archeological museum in Lebanon. The imposing Saint Joseph University and the unique Mineral Museum are right across.
Albergo Hotel is one of the best luxury hotels in Beirut. Set in an opulent mansion from the 1930s, this is the only Relais & Châteaux property in Lebanon. The plush rooms are all different, and come with extra comfy beds and a private balcony.
Sofitel Beirut El Gabriel
If you rather stay at a well-known international brand, book a room at the lavish Sofitel el Gabriel. The fitness center is one of the best in the city. We loved the pool and the big modern rooms.
While all of the above-mentioned neighborhoods represent historical Christian areas, Hamra is the center of Muslim Beirut. Its main street bears the same name, (Hamra), and seems to be the city’s main street. The neighborhood is densely built, being Sanayeh Park the only green space.
A place with a completely different atmosphere is the giant American University of Beirut. It not only houses a collection of nice old buildings and fabulous gardens, but there’s a modern Zaha Hadid’s building too.
Hamra is a great place to taste delicious food at great coffee shops and restaurants. We highly recommend attending a drag show in Bardo, a beautiful restaurant tucked into Mexico Street. If you love food, this is the best area to stay in Beirut.
Radisson Blu Martinez
We loved everything about the Radisson Blu Martinez Hotel. Located north of central Hamra toward Zaitunay Bay it excels in class and elegance. The star of the hotel is a pool and a sauna, perfect to chill after a whole day walking around the city.
Loft 29 Residence
If you are looking for private accommodation, we highly recommend staying at the Loft 29 Residence in Hamra’s center. It offers great rooms with a kitchenette and a balcony. The service is top notch. You must book at least 2 nights.
Raouché is a residential neighborhood southwest of Hamra. It starts southwest, where the iconic Raouche Rocks are. The hood ends around the Lebanese American University. Luxury hotels dot the neighborhood.
One of Beirut’s main highlights and an unmissable spot on any Lebanon itinerary is undoubtedly the famous Raouche Rocks. Though the rocks look impressive, trash is everywhere (like on most of Beirut’s coast). Nevertheless, it’s well worth visiting. The views are spectacular!
The seaside promenade goes right through the neighborhood. People come here to practice sports all day long. Families come at sunset to enjoy their time by the sea. Be extra careful when crossing the crowded avenue and don’t let fools that don’t respect pedestrians ruin your day!
Imperial Suites Hotel
If you are looking for a comfortable apartment in Raouché, the Imperial Suites is for you. All of their apartments come with a kitchenette, living room, and a dining area.
La Vida Suite
La Vida Suite is all about the views. All of their units come with private balconies with incredible views. Book the junior suite for the best views of the Raouche rocks.
Where to Stay near Beirut: Byblos
If you are looking for a quiet getaway close to Beirut, we highly suggest staying in Byblos. The charming city of 40000 people is some 24 miles (38 kilometers) north of the Lebanese capital.
Byblos is an ancient city set on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The beautifully restored Old Town is in the city center. To the north and south of the Old Town we find two long sandy beaches: Bahsa Beach and Byblos public beach.
There are many beautiful historic landmarks. The main sights include Byblos Citadel, the Old Port, St John the Baptist Church, Sultan Abdul Majid Mosque, and the Old Souk.
Aleph Boutique Hotel
Our favorite hotel in Byblos is the Aleph Boutique Hotel, a step away from the old town and the beach. Their comfortable rooms come with direct views of Byblos Citadel and the sea. There is a wonderful roof terrace where you can enjoy a cocktail.
Byblos Sur Mer
Byblos Sur Mer is the best hotel in Byblos and one of the best hotels near Beirut. Located at the edge of the old town right in front of the sea, it offers class and sophistication. All of the rooms have great views.
How Many Days in Beirut
We fell in love with Beirut the first time we visited. Its ancient mosques and churches, beautiful palaces, colorful streets, and squares are some of the nicest in the Middle East. Let us not forget the lovely coast and surrounding hills.
As you can imagine, Beirut is not overly touristic. The city feels very local, even during high season. You can easily spend weeks in Beirut and never get bored!
However, due to time constraints, you may be wondering how many days you need in Beirut to cover the basics. We believe you should spend at least three days visiting the main sights. If you have more days, go on a day trip to Baalbek or Sidon.
Moving around Beirut
As mentioned before, moving around Beirut is an issue. The city is choking with pollution and full of aggressive drivers. We found a strange correlation: the fancier the car, the stupidest the driver.
Beirut still doesn’t have any public transport, thus the millions of cars on its streets. Luckily, many streets in the city center are pedestrian. Thus, walking about is the best option.
Outside of the center, we would hire a taxi or an Uber, and once at the destination, we walked about freely. All of our drivers drove carefully. We even had pretty interesting conversations about alcohol, headscarves, and shooting guns at weddings.