Lebanon is a melting pot of European, Mediterranean, East and West cultures. The St. Georges Beach and Marina is the best example of this and is the best place for those who wish to mix and mingle with the locals. Here the hottest guys the city has to offer lounge around in their swimwear.
Sadly photography is not permitted but Zaitunay Bay is THE marina in Lebanon where the largest yachts and all that goes with them can be found. At the end of the yacht basin is the Hotel St. George, the “in” spot in the 1960s, now a derelict shell caught in disputes with local investors.
This is also the neighbourhood of the former Holiday Inn hotel, partly destroyed by mortars decades ago and the place where a car bomb killed Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister, in 2005. A walk along the promenade is an absolute delight at night with the amazing lights!
Beirut is a safe and fun place. Arabs from the Golf States and Iranian tourists fear driving through Syria but still do so as this is by far the cheapest way to reach this pulsating city on the western Mediterranean shores. Saudis and Jordanians escape the summer heat at home and visit Beirut.
For the gay scene this means a mixture of men from throughout the Middle East, difficult for us Europeans to determine their origins. It seems that in hard times the Lebanese enjoy spending money and enjoying life. The local tour specialists Lebtour (www.lebtour.com) will be happy to plan your trip to Lebanon. Bertho is an expert in his own country and ensures you will enjoy your time in Lebanon. He is also the local organizer of the Bear Arabia event and many other fascinating events and tours in the Arabian world.
The nightlife in Beirut is vibrant. The people here love life and show it. There are numerous outdoor restaurants where one can enjoy a water pipe and the warm evening breeze along with the delicious and varied Lebanese cuisine. One of the best addresses for this is the restaurant Republic located in Zalka. This is a haunt of extremely good looking, wealthy, young men and their stunning, high heeled girl friends, much to the distraction of the abundant, attractive and attentive waiters.
Bardo (Mexico Street, Clemenceau) is the new playground for the gay scene in Lebanon’s latest effort to recapture the era when Brigitte Bardot was a regular guest to the city and Beirut was a fashionable playground for the rich and famous.
A recommendation which will help pass the time until the clubs are busy is the Armenian Restaurant Mayrig (282 Pasteur Street, Gemayzeh). The numerous dishes ranging from cold followed by warm starters and the main course followed by dessert is an explosion of tastes and perfumes. Try the meatballs with a red cherry sauce or the “Rose Turkish Delight” ice cream – just to mention two highlights of the excellent menu. The attractive waiters are a further delight.
After dinner the club Milk (in Port of Beirut, Salifi) or Ghost (Saloumeh / Dekwaneh – behind Freeway Center) await to entertain you with oriental sounds and great looking guys. These clubs are frequented by locals and the exotic music animates spontaneous belly dancing. The entrance fee of around US$20 includes an open bar, so once you arrive you end up staying long after sunrise.
There is something special about this emerging gay scene, which has been long lost in Europe and America. The genuine “Joie de vivre” electrifies. The clubs don’t get busy until midnight – even during the week, when they are notably emptier. Photography in these clubs is not allowed, due to the double lives lived out by many of those who flee the family and go clubbing for a few hours of fun!
For those looking for a traditional hamam, Shahrazad in the Al Massaken Street, Burj Hammoud is your best bet. Take a taxi because this place is difficult to find. A towel is needed in all areas. The sauna itself is on the lower floor with a dry and steam sauna and a Jacuzzi, with cubicles for massages and scrubbing.
A visit to the country’s most popular tourist site is a priority.
The trip to the Jeitta Grotto is well worth the effort. Held for one of the world wonders, these caves are very impressive. Especially popular is the phallic shaped stalagmite which stands on the path on the main cave. A boat takes you through the lower cave on a 7km ride. Sadly no photography is allowed here. Apart from when the lower cave is flooded by the melted snow, the caves are open all year round to the public.
An insider tip for accommodation in Beirut is the Cosmopolitan Hotel Beirut (www.cosmopolitanbeirut.com) with affordable and very comfortable rooms, a great garden with pool and a fully equipped gym as well as free WiFi.
Outside Beirut gay life is sparse and more difficult to find. The insider tips outside the capital city are easy to visit with help from the only gay travel professionals in Lebanon – Lebtour (www.lebtour.com)
The ancient Mediterranean port city of Byblos (42 kilometers north of Beirut) was founded around 5000 BC and was conquered and inhabited by over 17 civilizations since then. It is said to be the oldest, continuously-inhabited city in the world.
The latest highlight to Byblos is the Eddesands Resort – the largest resort in the Middle East. This five star resort was built on the former gay beach Paradise in 2003. The gay scene moved to St. Georges Beach in Beirut, although a small, gay beach is now located on the far end of the bay.
A visit to the self-help project Batrouniyat, located in Batroun is run by Philipp is especially recommended around lunch time. This restaurant with shop offering homemade local produce such as rose water or soap, oils and sweets was opened in 2007. The owner recently returned to Lebanon after living abroad for many years. On Sunday an extremely popular brunch is served here with local specialties including their famous lemonade.
The Shouf Mountains, the greenest part of Lebanon is a must. A stop at the Beiteddine Palace which is 45 km from Beirut and at an altitude of 900m and experience how Emir Bechir El Chehab II lived. This is the best example of Lebanese architecture. Just above the palace was our hotel live like a king in the Mir Amin Palace hotel with 22 charming guestrooms, decorated with exquisite fabrics and antique furniture.
Baalbek, in the Beqaa Valley, is home to the annual Baalbeck International Festival (the oldest and best-known cultural event in the Middle East) in June to the end of July. Baalbek is 85 km northeast of Beirut and about 75 km north of Damascus and is one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture and is a World Heritage Site.
A gay trip to Lebanon or many other exotic destinations can be booked via the unique gay travel company OUT Adventures. By choosing OUT Adventures, you’ll stay at locally owned hotels, travel with local guides, support local craftsmen and eat at local restaurants.
In addition when travelling in small groups you can easily make friends and be sure to be yourself. No stress and maximum fun. Robert from OUT Adventures will be delighted to help you with your next gay trip. See www.out-adventures.com