The hotel's facade
Location within Aleppo
|Management||Armen Mazloumian (director)|
|Number of rooms||17|
|Number of restaurants||1|
Baron Hotel (also Baron's Hotel; French: Hôtel Baron or Le Baron), is the oldest hotel in Syria and the region. It is located in downtown Aleppo, on Baron street of the Aziziyeh area, next to the National Museum of Aleppo.
In November 2014 the hotel was forced to close its doors as the Syrian civil war gripped the city, with the front line separating government and rebel forces just metres away from the building. For over two years there had been almost no paying guests.
The fate of the historical artefacts inside the building and the giant Stephens thermometer, with French script, affixed to the front wall since 1917, is unknown.
The idea of building a luxury hotel in Aleppo rose at the end of the 19th century. Sometime around 1870, a member of the Armenian family of Mazloumian (from eastern Anatolia) was on her way to Jerusalem for pilgrimage. While passing through Aleppo which was -even at that time- a cosmopolitan centre of commerce, she noticed how uncomfortable Europeans felt when staying at the traditional caravanserais. Eventually, she decided to build something modern in Aleppo and the result was the Ararat hotel, the first hotel in the region, at the end of the 19th century.
A few years later the Mazloumian Brothers enlarged their business by setting up the new Baron's Hotel. In 1909, amongst the gardens on the outskirts of old Aleppo, they built the first floor of the current building; the second floor followed in 1911, and the third in 1940.
Until the Second World War, during the French Mandate most of the guests were British, French or German. British agents posing as archaeologists spied on German generals, who arranged opulent banquets for their Ottoman allies while German engineers built the rail line from Berlin to Baghdad.
The second floor of the hotel has witnessed the presence of political leaders and a lot of figures of culture: Lawrence of Arabia slept in room 202 (there is a copy of his unpaid bar bill displayed in the hotel); King Faisal declared Syria's independence from the balcony in room 215; Agatha Christie wrote the first part of Murder on the Orient Express in room 203. The Presidential Suite was occupied in turn by Charles de Gaulle, King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, Syria's former President Hafez Al Assad, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (the founder of the United Arab Emirates), and the American billionaire David Rockefeller. Other notable guests include Dame Freya Stark, Julie Christie, Mr and Mrs Theodore Roosevelt, Kemal Ataturk, Lady Louise Mountbatten, Charles Lindbergh and Yuri Gagarin.
During the French mandate, the street where Le Baron was built, was named after General Henri Gouraud. After the independence of Syria in 1946, the government decided to rename the street after "Baron" for the fame and the importance of the hotel.
- Italian newspaper La Repubblica 5th March 2016: "Silenzio e cecchini nell'Hotel Baron di Aleppo assediata (in Italian)".
- Tribes With Flags: A Dangerous Passage Through the Chaos of the Middle East (hardcover and paperback), Atlantic Monthly Press, 1991. ISBN 0-87113-457-8 (Published in the United Kingdom by Secker and Warburg, as well as Picador.) There is a section on the hotel as it was in 1987.
- "The Hotel Baron in Aleppo". Qantara: Dialogue with Islamic world. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
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