A group of us spent the weekend at Le Gray Beirut to celebrate a milestone birthday. If you’re familiar with Campbell Gray’s other properties like One Aldwych in London and The Carlisle Bay in Antigua, you’ll know they create their hotel experiences with a design-led aesthetic, and an emphasis on guest comfort. Le Gray is no exception, and there’s a huge amount of facilities packed into a relatively small boutique property, making it the ideal, self-contained destination for visiting Beirut.
The Hotel has a commanding position, situated on a corner plot just at the entrance to the City’s old town and main shopping thoroughfare. There’s a chic, casual cafe bar adjacent to the lobby where you can watch the world go by at an outdoor table, or you can retreat back to the comfort of your plush room after a busy day sightseeing. The suites are magnificent, tastefully done with well thought-out design touches, a hugely comfortable bed and stylish interiors. Indigo is the fantastic rooftop restaurant where we had breakfast al fresco, and it shares the space with the Hotel’s quirky outdoor swimming pool. In the evenings, the space is converted into Cherry on the Rooftop, a hip hangout for the City’s beautiful people and there’s also a cigar lounge and club on the 6th floor. The Hotel has every amenity the discerning traveller could wish for, topping things off with a luxurious full-service spa.
Putting aside Le Gray as a stand-alone product, where it needs some work is with it’s service culture. As it was a special occasion, with a good number of rooms being booked, I wanted to ensure our group’s requirements were pre-arranged. So there was plenty of back and forth with the concierge and front desk team prior to our arrival, yet despite this, several details were unfortunately missed. While the team did work hard to rearrange room assignments and correct billing issues, it defeated the purpose of any pre-arrival effort. Where guest relations disappointed, other front of house teams such as the staff at Indigo levelled the playing field, providing attentive service during both breakfast and dinner service. The spa team also deserve a special mention, as my 2-hour full body treatment was superb to say the least.
I liked Beirut very much. It’s a curious old City that has a bit of an identity crises, stuck in a strange limbo between wanting progress (evident in all the new construction going up around the Corniche) and yet still keen to hang-on to it’s former ‘Paris of the Middle East’ glory days. Le Gray offers a great base for exploration, with a solid hard product I would be keen to try again on a return visit. I can see the service-related blips being an issue for guests unless they’re corrected with more training, and I’d urge the management team to address these problems as they’ll continue to hold Le Gray back from becoming a truly exceptional luxury hotel.
Hotel – 9/10
Experience – 7/10