Out of the hundreds of hotels that have set up camp in the Maameltein and Tabarja area, less than a handful are actually decent enough to recommend, in service, quality and reputation. So when Monte Cassino invited my man and I to be amongst the first guests to stay at this hotel which opened its doors back in June, we were taken aback by the grandiose establishment situated only a stone’s throw away from the landmark, Casino du Liban.
Monte Cassino is a luxury boutique hotel in Tabarja with an exterior that somewhat resembles a private Italian villa, with impressive pillars and a renaissance feel to it. The hotel boasts 12 opulent suites overlooking the magnificent Jounieh Bay with unobstructed views reminiscent of the Amalfi coast; steep green mountainous terrain and tranquil turquoise waters. Each suite is exquisitely designed for both comfort and convenience and also features its very own Jacuzzi either within the lavish washroom or right in the center of the suite. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that toiletries included one of my favorite ranges from The Body Shop.
After checking in to our room we made our way down to the Tulip Lounge for some fine dining. We kicked things off with glass of Chardonnay and a sumptuous dish of Beef Carpaccio on a bed of rocca with a lemon mustard dressing. I especially enjoyed the breaded calamari on some hommus, which I thought was a rather lovely twist to an otherwise classic dish. For mains I had a divine cut of Filet Mignon cooked to seamless medium-rare with a side of grilled vegetables and some splendid potato gratin. I also got to taste the orange salmon with a side of fluffy Basmati rice which I would recommend if fish is your thing.
We enjoyed more drinks on the lobby terrace before heading to Monte Casino’s new rooftop, SWAY, an effortlessly chic bar, lounge and pool area with a magnificent unrivalled 180 degree view of Jounieh and its surroundings. Just then the much –anticipated annual firework show began to mark the commencement of the Jounieh International Festival and let me tell you, we never before had the chance to experience it from what felt like a front-row seat. The rooftop began to get busier as more guests arrived and the DJ began playing some of the season’s hottest tunes as we were offered more drinks and danced the night away under the stars.
Following a great night’s sleep we had a continental breakfast in a glamorous area which happened to be my personal favorite, furnished in chic denim 50’s style. Most of the guests headed back to the rooftop pool which is open all week for those who want to soak up the sun.
There’s no doubt Monte Cassino will be at last upping the game in Jounieh, bringing much-needed elegance, standards and all-star service to a mediocre area that is seriously lacking in all three. All the while remaining effortless and elegant with none-of-that over-the-top tacky nonsense. It’s a true boutique hotel with a unique character that if remains meticulously managed at the same level will be raising the stakes.