N.B This post was originally published in May 2015 and as such, some of the properties may have since become unavailable - but we thought they were still worth highlighting.

Airbnb is a pretty wonderful thing. The concept lies somewhere between couch-surfing and a bed and breakfast, allowing you to rent out a private bedroom or someone's entire apartment. It can be an affordable way to travel, to meet locals, or to splurge and stay somewhere luxurious.

My first Airbnb experience was a little different. After a late night flight from Beirut to Berlin with a friend, dragging our suitcases from the airport to several of the wrong bus connections and then several of the wrong streets, we arrived to our supposed base for the next couple of nights. When we finally reached the floor, we noticed the smell of garbage and urine, and hoped that there was some other explanation (there usually isn't). There was an overturned garbage can outside the door, flies feasting on its contents, and a depressingly comedic view of a brick wall outside the opened window. I slowly looked up at the large apartment door and read the words "We smoke meth here" scrawled on it. I'm not one to judge, but we decided we would rather not room with meth head strangers who may or may not smell like urine and garbage, and left.



But hey, Airbnb has a refund policy and we were quickly reimbursed, spending our night in a pretty nice hotel by the river. And although it took us four hours to find that pretty riverside hotel as I dragged a suitcase with a broken wheel through the streets of Berlin, our Airbnb credit went towards a gorgeous apartment in another awesome location in Prague, so it all worked out in the end.

Meth heads aside, Airbnb is usually an awesome way to visit somewhere new -- it's my go-to any time I'm planning a trip. And even though I live in Beirut, I'm tempted to spend a weekend in some of these Beirut listings available now.


1. The restored traditional Lebanese home

(Image via Airbnb)

If you book a room in this place, you'll be staying in a 70-year-old home that was apparently saved from demolition. High ceilings and windows give the apartment ample sunlight and the furniture gives an authentic feel of what homes in Lebanon looked like in the past (or what I would imagine). The rooftop setting alone makes this a great place to have an authentic Lebanese "2a3de" complete with coffee and a view of the Mar Mikhael and Gemmayze neighborhoods.

2. The spacious 1920's style loft

(Image via Airbnb)

This Gemmayzeh apartment is the base for several friends who work with media, from film to music to photography. Its open design doesn't detract from its warmth, with deep color popping out in the form of furniture and accessories. The place has bohemian yet retro decor, complete with a chalkboard, film projector, and hundreds of paper swans descending from the ceiling in the sitting area. Another cool feature is the pattern on the walls, a nice surprise after the owners peeled away old wallpaper.

3. The authentic high-ceiling retreat

(Image via Airbnb)

Old tiles, high ceilings, and retro furniture combine to create a place that feels like a retreat into a Lebanon of the past. The terrace and shared garden offer excellent opportunities for morning coffee or drinks with friends in the evening. This listing probably offers the most authentic feel of a stylish blast from Lebanon's past.

4. The eclectic wonderland

(Image via Airbnb)

If you have ever wondered what an apartment would look like if you threw the terms "Alice in Wonderland" and "retro" at a designer, this is your place. This apartment maintains a cool balance of funky and cozy, with lots of color and charm. The garden outside offers a great place to work, hang out, or throw a tea party with your very own Mad Hatter. Its location in Geitawi means that it's far enough from the hustle and bustle of city noise but close enough to get to restaurants and pubs easily.

5. The modern industrial loft

(Image via Airbnb)

Although many of the Airbnb apartments in Beirut have a more retro or bohemian air, this place stands out with its more industrial design. Metal and concrete elements combine with an open floor plan, making the space feel modern but inviting. The whole place has a clean and crisp feel, offering guests a structured yet relaxing retreat. The wide balcony alone sells itself, offering a view of Mar Mikhael and the port.

6. The rustic apartment with a garden

(Image via Airbnb)

The rustic feel of this place combined with its greenery just outside the window give it the vibe of a small Italian villa. This Mar Mikhael apartment has curb appeal inside and out, with a distressed pastel feature wall and an outside area that is perfect for working or relaxing with a cup of tea or wine.

7. The 1940's designer's flat

(Image via Airbnb)

The high ceiling is pretty much a staple of Gemmayze/Mar Mikhael architecture, but this apartment offers a little more than the average pad. The owner of this place is a set designer, so you can bet that it's full of knick knacks with stories behind them. It's clearly decorated with immaculate attention to color and detail, as it looks like the set of a lush, French apartment in the 1940's.

8. The loft with a swing

(Image via Airbnb)

This place has a swing! It also has humorous decals on the wall, if that's your sort of thing. You can tell from the decor that it is the home of several designers (architects, directors, and the like). Plus, with a private rooftop terrace, what more do you need?

9. The traditional 1920s apartment

(Image via Airbnb)

This place takes the cake for its window treatment, with high ceilings leading the eye to a collection of ornate upper windows. The living/dining area is the feature area of this home, with retro tiling, a hint of greenery, and an open feeling as the windows allow for a look at the stained-glass windows in the bedroom. You can tell that it had once been a painting studio by the crafty yet purposeful decor.

10. The rooftop chill out

(Image via Airbnb)

Don't let this place's lack of curb appeal fool you. This is the perfect place to host a gathering, located on a Mar Mikhael rooftop which overlooks the sea. A bar and wooden crates offer an entertainment spot with lots of seating for guests. The apartment itself is modest, but the white walls and simple decor help it feel clean and comfortable. And with direct access to this kind of view, there's really no reason to complain.

But hey, if none of this appeals to you and you just want to get away from the city, here's a cool option:

11. The tree house retreat

(Image via Airbnb)

The Ecovillage, located in the village of Dmit, offers visitors a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Beirut. You can rent an eco bungalow or spend the night in, yes, a treehouse. Fulfill your childhood dreams of hiding out in a tree but without the possibility of it falling apart due to your lack of construction experience. The Ecovillage is located next to a river and among wildlife, allowing you to take a dip and explore the surrounding nature.

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https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9983478?s=dmS27hSV.

Mó Fayad on Mar 2, 2016 via mobile web