Phoenicia Hotel Beirut

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Phoenicia Hotel Beirut
Phoenicia hotel beirut.jpg
The Original 1961 Phoenician Tower to the left, the 1968 Roman Tower in the middle, and the 2003 Residence Tower adjacent on right.
Phoenicia Hotel Beirut is located in Beirut
Phoenicia Hotel Beirut
Location within Beirut
General information
Location Beirut, Lebanon
Coordinates 33°54′2″N 35°29′40″E / 33.90056°N 35.49444°E / 33.90056; 35.49444
Opening December 23, 1961
Owner La Société des Grands Hotels du Liban
Management InterContinental Hotels
Design and construction
Architect Edward Durell Stone
Other information
Number of rooms 418
Number of suites 44
Number of restaurants 7
Parking Available

The Phoenicia Hotel Beirut is a historic 5-star luxury hotel situated in the Minet El Hosn neighborhood of Beirut, Lebanon. It is located on Rue Fakhreddine near the Corniche Beirut promenade and walking-distance from Beirut Central District, and a few kilometers from Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport.[1] The Phoenicia is part of the worldwide InterContinental Hotels chain, but it dropped the actual use of the chain name in 2012.[2]


The Phoenicia was built by the Lebanese businessman Najib Salha, who founded La Société des Grands Hotels du Liban (SGHL) in 1953. It was designed by the noted American architect Edward Durell Stone, working with American architect Joseph Salerno[3] and local architects Ferdinand Dagher and Rodolphe Elias. The design showed Levantine influences in its high ceilings, sweeping staircases and palatial pillars.[4] The hotel's interiors and furniture were contracted to the New York firm of William M. Ballard[5] and were designed by Neal Prince, who was responsible for the interior decoration of most Intercontinental Hotels at the time.[3]

The hotel opened to the public on December 23, 1961 as the Phoenicia Intercontinental, managed by the American Intercontinental Hotels chain. However its grand opening was not celebrated until three months later, on March 31, 1962, when Lebanese Prime Minister Rashid Karami presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony and actress Dorothy Dandridge sang in the Le Paon Rouge nightclub as the guest of honor. The hotel had 310 rooms and suites, shops, restaurants and a swimming pool with a bar.[6]

The hotel was an immediate success, operating at near constant 100 percent occupancy. As a result, plans were made to expand it. An adjacent property was purchased by SGHL in 1963. Local architect Joseph Philippe Karam was commissioned to design a 22-story, 270-room addition, which opened on April 19, 1968, increasing the number of rooms at the hotel to 600.[7]

The hotel became a battlefield in the Lebanese Civil War in 1975-6, during fighting known as the Battle of the Hotels, and was left a burnt-out ruin. It was abandoned for nearly twenty-five years until the late 1990s, when Mazen and Marwan Salha, Najib Salha's sons and members of the board of directors of SGHL, decided to restore the hotel.

It reopened on March 22, 2000 as the Phoenicia Inter-Continental Beirut, following a $100 million restoration project to designs by architects Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum. Inter-Continental Hotels was reorganized as InterContinental Hotels Group in 2003, and the hotel's name was modified slightly, losing the hyphen and becoming the Phoenicia InterContinental Beirut. In July 2003, a third tower, the Phoenicia Residence, consisting of 35 luxury apartments, was opened. The Phoenicia was damaged in the 2005 bombing assassination of Rafik Hariri in the street out front and closed for three months for repairs. In 2011, it underwent a US $50 million revamp that coincided with its 50-year anniversary.[8] In 2012 it was rebranded as the Phoenicia Hotel Beirut, though it is still a part of the InterContinental chain.[9]

Art Collection[edit]

When the Phoenicia celebrated its 50th anniversary, it revealed a collection of contemporary art, featuring works of Howard Hodgkin, Sam Francis, Jan Dibbets, Andy Goldsworthy, Paul Morrison and a Mud Circle by Richard Long.[10]

In film[edit]

As a Beirut landmark, the Phoenicia has appeared in numerous feature movies across its history. It is featured in the 1965 Mickey Rooney film Twenty-Four Hours to Kill (de). In Agent 505: Death Trap in Beirut (1966), the hero stays in the city’s glamorous palace. In Die Fälschung (1981) (English title: Circle of Deceit), Volker Schlöndorff makes an ambiguous use of the Phoenicia. Characters seem to be lodging in the hotel while it has already been damaged by the war. In fact, the outside scenes were shot on location, while the interior scenes were done at Casino du Liban. Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige’s Je veux voir (fr)[11] (English title: I want to see) (2008), starts on the last floor of the Phoenicia: Catherine Deneuve says she wants to see the destruction of the 2006 Lebanon War.



  1. ^ "Phoenicia Beirut". Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  2. ^ "This is an Intercontinental Hotel - Review of Phoenicia Hotel, Beirut, Lebanon - TripAdvisor". 
  3. ^ a b "InterContinental Phoenicia". 
  4. ^ "PHOENICIA INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL". beirut-hotel. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  5. ^ "InterContinental Phoenicia exhibit wall panel". 
  6. ^ "InterContinental Phoenicia website". Retrieved June 8, 2008. 
  7. ^ "KARAM Joseph Philippe". Architecture au Liban. Archived from the original on 15 February 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Annabelle Thorpe. "Inherent glamour and classic style at Beirut's Phoenicia hotel". 
  9. ^ "This is an Intercontinental Hotel - Review of Phoenicia Hotel, Beirut, Lebanon - TripAdvisor". 
  10. ^ Lucinda Bredin (2011). "Summer 2011: Among the ruins". Bonhams Magazine. Retrieved 23 January 2012. [permanent dead link]
  11. ^ IMDb. "I want to see". Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  • Le Phoenicia, un hôtel dans l'Histoire, Tania Hadjithomas Mehanna, Tamyras, Juin 2012

External links[edit]

Media related to Phoenicia InterContinental Hotel at Wikimedia Commons