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Tania Fares's Insider Guide To Beirut

Apr 29

Tania Fares's Insider Guide To Beirut

The Design Duo: David Nicolas

It wasn’t long after David Raffoul and Nicolas Moussallem opened the David Nicolas design studio that one of their furniture collections caught the eye of the New York Times. The publicity propelled them to international stardom, and for very good reason: their ‘retro-futuristic’ style is instantly recognisable. Their pieces are a true reflection of the contrasting aesthetic cultures that coexist in Beirut and the way they blend these together shows a deep understanding of the region’s heritage.

119 Rue Pharaon, Mar Mikhael, P.O.Box 175743, Beirut.

The Authentic Eatery: Em Sherif Café

In true Mediterranean tradition this place is open every day between 9am and 3am - because you never know when you might get a little peckish. No matter what time of day you visit, though, the atmosphere is always welcoming with charming staff happy to take you through the long lists of mezze and offer secret recommendations. It‘s a great spot for quick business lunches and if you aren’t in a rush from spring onwards, take a seat on the terrace and let the afternoon pass by.
Minet El Hosn, Downtown, Beirut

The Go-To Party Dress Designer: Sandra Mansour

If it's a mesmerising party dress you're after, pay a visit to Sandra Mansour’s workshop where, together with her team of seamstresses, she spends her days refining the most intricate embroidery and print details to apply to all manner of fabrics and textiles. Her creativity knows no bounds: add to an original flair for fabric the precious skills she learnt whilst working for Lebanon’s master couturier Elie Saab and you're left with sophisticated collections charged with femininity.
275 Gouraud Street, Sector 29. Gemmayze, P.O. Box 112016, Beirut

The Design Powerhouse: Cherine Magrabi Tayeb

Cherine Magrabi Tayeb is the impossibly stylish, ultra-smart businesswoman with a serious passion for the arts. Six years ago, alongside heading up the marketing department of her family’s business, Magrabi Optical, she founded the non-profit House of Today, a design platform that has nurtured and launched the careers of Lebanon’s fledgling talent. In so doing she has helped establish her country, of which she immensely proud, on the international design map. A win for all involved!
Starco, Bloc B, 11th Floor, Beirut.

Where The Party Is At: O1NE Beirut

O1NE is the brainchild of Beirut’s nightlife maestro, Chafic El Khazen and his architect brother Sari, whom he enlisted to bring his vision to life. The graffiti-laden, monolithic structure (boldfaced international artists were called upon) is a vibrant addition to Downtown’s waterfront and, between the months of November and May, it is buzzing with queuesit almost every night. Step inside and you’ll be blown away by the all-encompassing visual and sound system. Some of the best parties I have ever been to have taken place here!
Beirut Waterfront, Downtown, Beirut.

The Contemporary Label To Know: Jessica K

Jessica Khoueiri-Achkar’s eponymous label has built a serious following amongst Beirut’s savvy fashion crowd in search of easy-to-wear pieces with a little off-beat twist. Known for her attention to detail, colourful day-to-night pieces are artfully showcased in her white-washed, minimalist loft studio. Style your outfit with a pair of Jessica K maxi earrings and you are guaranteed to leave feeling empowered and ready for all occasions.
Monroe Hotel, Kennedy Street, P.O. Box 114850, Beirut.

The Sweet Treat Stop-Off: Douaihy

If you want to sample some delicious Arabic treats, head directly to Douaihy Sweets. For a varied selection make sure to try some kanafeh, baklava and osmalieh. The family-run business has proved such a success that Beirut’s original store has now expanded to a further five outposts across Lebanon, including one conveniently housed within Beirut’s airport, just in case you managed to miss them on your travels.

The Private Residence Turned Art Hotspot: Sursock Museum

The Sursock was a gift to Lebanon’s people, thanks to a generous donation by the mansion’s previous owner, the philanthropist and art collector Nicolas Sursock. When it first opened in the Sixties, it held an open call exhibition inviting the region’s young contemporary artists to enter submissions; it has since grown into a world-renowned institute that embraces experimentation and supports local art production. After some initial renovation work to transform the residential interiors into a gallery space, the museum underwent a seven-year expansion project turning it into a fully functional art institute able to hold its own on the international circuit. I always make a point of spending time there when I am in town. It's striking white façade - a veritable fusion of Venetian and Ottoman styles - nestled in the centre of Beirut has always felt like home.
Antiochian Orthodox Archbishopric Street, 20715509, Ashrafieh, Beirut.