Beirut, Lebanon

Photo: Baffa House

Beirut is chaotic. It’s diverse and fast-paced. It’s congested and polluted. It’s neglected and taken for granted. It’s still one of your favorite cities.

The capital of Lebanon is one of the oldest cities in the world. Five thousand years of history are crammed together between the green Lebanon Mountains and the blue Mediterranean Sea. It started as a Phoenician port in ancient times. A Roman province, a Muslim takeover, an Ottoman dynasty, and a French mandate followed. The city became the capital when the country gained its independence. Crises, culminating in the 15-year Lebanese Civil War, followed. Protests continue to keep Beirut on its toes.

It’s definitely a city in which you need to stay alert. That isn’t hard with so many stimuli. Beirut is where East meets West and old mixes with new. It’s a cosmopolitan city with an outdoor café culture and fashion-forward people. It’s liberal and progressive, religiously-diverse and gay-friendly. Anything goes here—especially around the Corniche Beirut (the waterfront promenade) and the beaches.

You’ve learned to go with the flow in Bey. You believe the key to that was finding the perfect place to stay. Baffa House feels homey because it’s the Baffa family’s house. After World War II, an Italian man arrived in Beirut to help build train stations. He fell in love with a Lebanese woman and stayed. Their son purchased a large, yellow house near one of those stations. Then their grandson restored the 1940s building and turned into a four-room guesthouse. The Baffas now welcome guests from around the world.

Baffa House sits on a quiet side street near Mar Mikhaël, a chic neighborhood full of art galleries and designer stores. The charming house is decorated with antique furniture, local artwork, and lots of plants. A traditional, homemade breakfast is served in the common area each morning. The rooms are simply decorated with bright pops of color. While your favorite moments are when the owners offer recommendations as you plan your day. Their suggestions always help you peel back even more layers of Beirut.

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