Insider's guide to Beirut

Usually in Arabic custom, you go to eat with the whole family or a group of friends because the minimum is five or six small dishes, and you all share sitting at the long tables. They put the mezze down first, and you eat and eat and eat and eat - and then they serve the main meal!

For pure Lebanese food - tabouleh, hummus, vegetable mezze, followed by Lebanese rice and fish, there’s no better than Karam on Bazerkan Street.

Having been fed and watered, ramble, or waddle, down to the The Gemmayzeh area (near downtown Beirut), it is very popular among the twenty and thirtysomethings crowd as it’s packed with bars and restaurants, (food is religion here) including the Cafe Gemmayzeh (also called the Glass Cafe) which dates back to Ottoman times, and is one of the best places to hear live Arabic music.

For the slightly older, you may prefer the likes of the Music Hall in the Starco area. It's like a theatre, with red curtains and brown tables, and it's dark with only a few spotlights. They play music that's a fusion between Spanish and Arabic - but not too loud, and of course, they serve food – if you’ve any room left.

For a good stay check out the Albergo Hotel, which is in a really old, beautiful area called Ashrafieh, with more restaurants, cafes and pubs. The hotel is French colonial in style, It looks out over the sea and they have a cigar lounge on the roof where you can have dinner (or not!) and look out over the middle of Beirut, doubles from £168, AlbergoHotel.

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