Legendary Hotel in the Bekaa
With snow-covered Mount Lebanon as a backdrop in winter and the fabled ruins of Baalbeck in the foreground, the Palmyra Hotel offers guests a unique view onto one of the most magnificent Roman sites.
The first hotel to be built in Baalbeck in 1874 also boasting the first telephone line in town oozes history, having kept most of its original furniture, tiles, rugs and decor and famed hospitality. Over the last 140 years it has never been closed and hosted travellers visiting the ancient sites of the Middle East as well as royalty and statesmen – the Empress of Abyssinia and German Emperor Wilhelm II, the Shah of Iran, Atatürk and de Gaulle sojourned here.
Since its inception in 1956, the Baalbeck International Festival has filled the two-storey hotel with stars from around the world and was the site of many long nights and great parties. “Fairuz would stay in room 17 before the new section, the Annexe was built,” Ghassan Karaa the hotel’s manager since 1989 explained.
The guestbook, which owner Ali Husseini safe keeps, contains entries by Farid El-Attrash, Tony Curtis, Ella Fitzgerald, Jeanne Moreau and Jean Cocteau who booked himself in for a summer month in 1960 and whose framed drawings, poems and thank you letter are displayed upstairs and in the foyer, near a Jupiter bust and the bar. Featuring on a 1970s flyer is the elderly maitre d’ with a ready smile and institutional memory, Ahmad – he has worked at the Palmyra for over half a century.
Best times to stay: spring and autumn til the first snows fall.