What became of Beirut’s 1960s jet-set playgrounds
May 23, 2015
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“For several decades the name ‘Beirut’ has conjured images of devastation and danger.
But not so long ago, it enjoyed a reputation as a playground for the world’s most affluent tourists.
In the 1950s, a sudden influx of foreign money led to the creation of the Middle East’s very own piece of La Dolce Vita on the Mediterranean.
New five-star hotels sprang up on the Ain el Mreisse seafront, nightclubs moved into Rue de Phenicie (Les Caves du Roy was said to be a particularly infamous den of iniquity) and restaurants opened to serve the celebrities and royals that began arriving.
On nearby Hamra Street, intellectuals from the nearby American University of Beirut and leftist politicians and activists would argue and plan over countless cigarettes in the dozens of cafes established in the 50s and 60s.
The most popular ones — Cafe Wimpy, the Horseshoe, Cafe de Paris — have since been turned into multinational chains, but what is still one of Beirut’s most vital thoroughfares remains lined with al fresco smokers and espresso drinkers.
It’s still possible to visit some of the hotspots of 60s Beirut for a sunbathe and a cocktail, and imagine that really is Brigitte Bardot and Omar Sharif you’re seeing at the corner table.”
Read more @ http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/19/travel/beirut-five-star-hotels-faded-glamor-cnngo/index.html
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