Mini guide to Beirut, Lebanon
Beirut’s most prestigious hotel in the days before Lebanon’s civil war, the Intercontinental Phoenicia Hotel has once again become the haunt of the city’s monied set after being restored to its former glory. Inside are acres of marble, chandeliers and an ornate colonnaded swimming pool (phoeniciabeirut.com; Rue Fakhr ed-Dine, Minet al-Hosn; from £200).
The Lebanese Commuting Company (lccworld.com) runs bus networks alongside governmentowned OCFTC buses. Both have a ‘hail-and-ride’ system (fares around 50p). Shared service taxis (servees in Arabic) run fixed routes (fares £1 max in central Beirut).
When to go
Beirut has cool, rainy winters until February, and hot, Mediterranean summers from June. February’s Al Bustan festival has a varied programme of orchestral and chamber music in Beit Mery (albustanfestival.com) and the Beirut International Film Festival takes place in October (beirutfilmfoundation.org).
How to go
Beirut airport is five miles south of the city centre. Bmi flies from Heathrow (from £485; flybmi.com), as does Middle East Airlines (from £465; mea.com.lb). Yellow taxis go downtown (fares around £15), but it’s often cheaper to pre-arrange an airport pickup at your hotel. Buses go into town (fares around 50p) but are a long walk from the terminal.