Syrian dream

First Class tours the historic city of Damascus and delights in old-school glamour at the Four Seasons.
Syrian dream
By Administrator
Fri 23 May 2008 04:00 AM

First Class tours the historic city of Damascus and delights in old-school glamour at the Four Seasons Hotel.

There are plenty of good reasons to visit Damascus - and the Four Seasons Hotel comes pretty high on the list.

From the moment you step into the hotel lobby it exudes luxury, old-world glamour and the sense that VIPs are about to arrive at any moment.

The grand dame of the Syrian hotel scene, it dominates the Damascus skyline, towering above the city in a cream coloured art-deco style building.

From the moment you step into the hotel lobby it exudes luxury, old-world glamour and the sense that VIPs are about to arrive at any moment.

Unlike in some other parts of the Middle East where five-star hotels are two a penny and sun-burnt Western tourists fill the lobbies, the Four Seasons Damascus retains an air of exclusivity.

During our visit a delegation of Arab movers and shakers was in residence - and the hotel had an air of expectancy with bodyguards in dark suits muttering into walkie-talkies in the lobby and deals being brokered in the hotel's elegant tearoom Kithara.

Damascus is an endlessly fascinating city to explore with a wealth of treasures in the Old City - from the labyrinth souq to the 16th century courtyard restaurants.History is everywhere and it is a world away from the sparkling newness of the neighbouring Gulf states.

Even so it could prove hard to drag yourself away from the luxury of the hotel - particularly if you are staying in one of the deluxe suites.

First Class stayed in one of the Diplomatic Suites - a stunning 796 sq ft space complete with a lounge area equipped with a widescreen television, dining table and sofas.

There is a range of dining options in the hotel — including the opportunity to sample traditional Syrian cuisine. Opportunity to sample traditional Syrian cuisine cooked by a chef from the northern Syrian area of Aleppo.

Beautiful décor, a huge bathroom and a second guest toilet completed the effect that this was better than any one-bedroom flat we'd had the privilege to stay in.

Once we'd managed to drag ourselves out of the comfort of our room, we decided to test out the hotel's concierge service to find out whether it could help us to find our feet in Damascus.

We left very much the wiser with a detailed map of the city, and instructions on every monument we should visit, how to get to them and the best cafes to stop in for a juice and a shisha.

Damascus is a very easy city to explore on foot and you can cover most of it in a couple of days. So if you have time left to spare at the end of the stay, you must check out the hotel's Balloran Spa.

It offers a range of massages and other treatments as well as a steam room and sauna to lounge around in.

There is also an outdoor 14-metre pool though when First Class visited last month - it was a little chilly.

There is a range of dining options in the hotel - including the opportunity to sample traditional Syrian cuisine cooked by a chef from the northern Syrian area of Aleppo.

We sampled a Malaysian-themed meal at Safran - which features different international cuisine each month, flying in chefs from around the world to ensure authenticity.

Safran is also where breakfast is served - a huge buffet featuring every conceivable breakfast connotation - as well as a range of a la carte options.

From sunset to sundown - you can't visit the Four Seasons without enjoying an evening drink in the XO wine bar.

Enclosed in the dark, wood panelled, intimate bar by the fireplace, with cigar smoke drifting on the air, you'd be forgiven for thinking that you'd been transported to an old English gentlemen's club.

It's a great place to unwind from a hectic day exploring the streets of old Damascus - and another reason why the Four Seasons Hotel continues to be a jewel in the city's crown.

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