Beirut ~ Smallville
Is this Beirut’s kitchest hotel?
The Smallville Hotel
Themed hotels are risky, especially if you are trying to attract business clients. Ordinarily, I am not a fan of decor drawing on anything kitsch, the 1950s, superheroes or Marvel. And certainly not of anything that’s too contrived ‘cute’. But The Smallville Hotel uses most of those elements and manages to be both cute and good and that's what matters here. It’s all very tongue in cheek, of course, but The Smallville Hotel never blinks once in its presentation of kitsch.
I hope you enjoy my photos showing the confident execution of this bold styling, evident in so many details across all areas of the hotel. As always, if you click on any of the images you can enlarge them.
From the seating areas to the key card wallets, signs and corridor designs, everywhere has been strongly designed.
In the public areas, quirky abounds. A business suite called the Mind Control Centre and a Roof Terrace with a Star gazer’s platform and binoculars! There’s a lot of light in Beirut, however, so not sure how good stargazing from here would be.
And the red theme continues out on to the street where the Merry Go Round Terrace is a cool cafe by day and a funky bar by night. (At this time of year there are plastic walls to enable them to heat the space if necessary, but in summer this space is open.)
The Poolhouse penthouse. I am a BIG fan of swimming. I love outdoor pools the most - and scam swimming the best (that’s another story for another day) - but this pool was just too freakin’ weird for me. It’s a long walk from the changing rooms past the bar fly…
But never mind that: check out the view!
The Smallville is a large hotel - a tower block that’s been restored and reinvigorated in an area of Beirut that’s undergone similar. (It’s on Damascus Street.) The views are amazing:a wrap-around skyline of city and mountains with, below, the Roman hippodrome - still used for horse racing today.
Beirut is one of the best places I’ve ever been to. I have travelled there several times for work and would very happily go there on holiday. It’s a complex and confusing place where war wounds are sometimes close to the surface and politics is often a loud background noise for any activity, conversation or decision. But it’s also a place of inspirational energy and drive, incredible food, wonderful architecture, and layers and layers of the richest history that stretch back millennia. Plus - some of the most beautiful and generous people you could hope to meet. Ever been? Or been somewhere that made a similar impression on you? Let me know in the comments below.
The Tripographer’s notes
Unslumping level? 10/10
Would I go again? Yes, but there are so many amazing places in Beirut I’d probably try somewhere new.
Best time to go? Our Autumn or Spring, when the weather is sublime.
Best for? Everything except peace and quiet. I should, perhaps, reinforce the collocation by putting it thus: peace-and-quiet. Beirut and peace are frenemies.
Top tip? Let a local be your guide and be mindful about where you go.