Syr Palace Hotel - North Lebanon's Famed Old Mountain Hotel
A few decades ago, come summer, many well to do Beiruti, Tripolitan but also Egyptian and Emirati families, would escape to the cooler climes of Syr ad Donie and book themselves into the Syr Palace Hotel. Built in the early 1930s, the building masters not only built a spectacular art deco edifice with beautiful stained glass windows, they also brought electricity to the sleepy mountain village.
Guests would stay for a month, usually August, going for walks in the mountains or watching movies projected on top of the hotel’s garage. The Palace has a large dining room and a light-filled reading room. Guests would sit on the terrace, play tawlet zaher (backgrammon), smoke nargieleh and enjoy the views onto the green valley below and the sea in the distance. Given its reputation and vistas, the terrace, full of flowers and with a fountain in the centre, is still a popular weekend destination in summer.
Prior to Ammar Khodor Agha, his father Ali managed the hotel for 61 years. Back in the 50s and 60s, there were many performances taking place at the hotel. Visitors from Homs would come to hear Wadih El Safih, Sabah or Karim Mahmoud perform, stay one night and head back.
The best times to stay at the Syr Palace Hotel, one of very few old Lebanese hotels that have not been destroyed and are still operational, is between early summer and autumn-in winter it gets very cold and snowed up. The hotel still boasts the original furniture, stained glass windows in the dining room, a reading room and the manager’s office a spectacular art deco desk.
In summer, there is plenty of barbequing going on in the village and there are a range of beautiful hikes to do around Syr.