Nestled in the old souq at the heart of the Lebanese seaside town of Batroun, an old house has been transformed into a beautiful guesthouse. With its minimalist and very “boho beautiful” interiors, which clash stylishly with the grand historical building, Villa Paradiso is the quintessential millennial getaway destination.
Batroun is a coastal town in the north of Lebanon about an hour and a half’s drive from Beirut. It is particularly popular in the summer, when Beirutis flee the heat of the city for the beach. Batroun is home to the famous ancient Phoenician sea wall, which was once used as protection against storms and invaders, along with various other ruins and beautiful old churches. It is famous for its sweet and delicious local lemonade.
It is also within an hour’s drive of Tripoli, Byblos (Jbeil) and the mountains, which are harvesting wine in the summer and topped with snow in the winter. The locals of Batroun like to remind visitors that it is one of the only places in the world where, in Spring, you can be on the beach in the morning and skiing in the mountains in the afternoon.
Villa Paradiso’s character flows with the seasons. In winter, it is a quiet, cosy place to retreat and reflect. During the summer months, the place comes alive with groups of friends escaping the heat of the city, drinking wine from the vineyards of the nearby mountains and listening to live music on the terrace, which looks out over the local churches to the sea.
The guesthouse is also popular for its events and themed dinner nights, when visiting chefs and live music bring guests and locals together for an evening of good food, wine and company.
Though Villa Paradiso was renovated just last year, it has maintained a sense of minimalism and authenticity in its décor, reflecting the old town it inhabits. It was dreamed up by Rémi Feghali, who also designed Oman’s iconic Anantara mountain resort at Jabal Akhdar and now runs Villa Paradiso with his sister.
The rooms at Villa Paradiso, which are found on an outdoor terrace at the top of a stone staircase, are simple and charming, furnished mostly with upcycled materials and hand-crafted items. They lead out onto the terrace, where a bar and a picturesque view of the souq and the sea make for the perfect sundowner spot.
The terrace overlooks the courtyard, where friends can congregate in the shelter of a large orange tree. Villa Paradiso’s chilled out but sociable vibe make it the perfect destination for a group trip or retreat.
In the mornings, a Lebanese breakfast is served in an open, homely kitchen with large wooden doors, mosaic-style tiles and a balcony leading outside. The food is, in itself, a reason to visit: Breakfast is fresh bread with zaatar (a Lebanese speciality), eggs and home-grown olives and cucumbers, and (of course) halloumi.
The place has been decorated with love, attention to detail and respect for Lebanon’s beauty and culture. Its staff are warm, friendly and go the extra mile to ensure you feel comfortable and have everything you need. In the main building is an exhibition hall where local artists sometimes show their work, along with a boutique selling locally made handicrafts and other items such as mosaic coffee tables, books of anecdotes about Lebanon and local wine.
Villa Paradiso’s homely and relaxed, yet upbeat and fun atmosphere is unique, particularly to the Middle East – though this is somewhat of a reflection of Lebanon itself.
Rooms start at $125 per night, to book visit www.villaparadisolebanon.com
If you enjoyed this, you might also like: