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Hotel Check: Grand Hills Hotel & Spa Broumana, Lebanon

Broumana, Lebanon

HOW MANY ROOMS? 164 rooms and suites


PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS Escape the bustling downtown Beirut scene (only a 25-minute drive away) from this hillside escape where its pool and spa will take you to another level.

PRICE Internet rates for a traditional room on the random dates we checked start at $120.

CONTACT Grand Hills, A Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa, Charkieh, Main Road, Broummana, Lebanon. Phone +961-4-868-888. https/

WHERE IS IT? Towering above the landscape of the Lebanese hillside, this amazing Marriott Bonvoy property is one for the story books. Guinness Book of World Records asserts that it has the largest hotel suite in the world, and its lavish public areas are designed to match. It’s only a 30-minute drive into Beirut if you are looking into the latest nightlife and hottest dining scene of such areas as Achrafieh or Hamra.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? You’ll find more than 1,200 pieces of original art and ancient artefacts throughout the hotel, all of which are part of the owner’s personal collection. What may seem unassuming on the outside is actually quite impressive once you step inside. Even better, the unassuming staff are especially proud of this gem in the hills, which competes well with the big-city brand names by the waterfront.

ROOM FACILITIES You will be pleasantly surprised to find elegant accommodations befitting a Luxury Collection property here. Each floor bears a different color scheme and style although the fittings are similar with locally hand-crafted furnishings and high-quality fabrics. Bedding features thick duvets and plush pillow coverings ideally crafted for a sound sleep. Room types vary in size and view although either side of the hill offers interesting vistas from the towering skyline of downtown to the relaxing valley views on the other side. Bathrooms range in size with marble vanities and some offering both tubs and shower stalls while others have combination units. All come with terrycloth robes and slippers. Spacious closets, Middle Eastern accent pieces, and flat-screen cable TVs come standard. What sets some room categories apart are the furnished balconies that offer stunning views of the landscape, pool and lounge area, and hotel grounds. Each floor comes with a lounge area with either an outdoor garden or communal gathering space where guests can sit and order drinks by phone from a stocked minibar. There are a variety of suite categories including some with ensuite, and others with separate, living rooms. The Royal Residence, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest hotel suite in the world, comes with two private swimming pools, several floors of living space including a library, and its own large whirlpool. There’s never a need to pass through public areas since Royal Residence guests are privy to their own arrivals and reception area. It is an independent mansion with three pavilions of exquisite art and sculptures. To stay there, you might have to own a small country, but at least you know the option is available for your next vacation.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS You won’t be short of dining options when you stay here although many of them are only open during the spring and supper when the hotel is busiest. This is a great alternative for people that tire of the Beirut heat because Broumana is well-known for its cooler hilltop temperatures. In the mix are Italian and French restaurants plus the international café that serves all meals and spills out toward the pool terrace. This is where most guests gather for impressive buffets with all kinds of regional cuisine. In the Grand Hills Bar, guests can gather over drinks while enjoying live entertainment several nights a week; the piano bar is especially popular.

LEISURE FACILITIES The fitness center on the basement level offers modern equipment and a changing room with a shower that can be used by early arrivals (or late checkouts). There is both an indoor and outdoor swimming pool (famous for its beautifully colored tiles visible from many of the rooms). It’s not just hotel guests that come to the hotel for relaxation at the Grand Hills Hotel & Spa where all kinds of relaxing spa and beauty treatments are on offer.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Free wireless Internet works everywhere, and the meeting rooms offer the latest audiovisual equipment for groups as large as 350. A business center provides access to printing and translation services.

VERDICT This is the ideal alternative when it comes to finding something solid and welcoming outside of the busy downtown area. That’s where most hotels are, and while it is entirely safe and favored by international groups, the best-kept secret is holding a meeting or relaxing with your family in the hills.