Doing research on my trip to Lebanon I found a city called Tripoli in the north that seemed like a good starting point to explore this part of the country. On my itinerary I wanted to visit The Cedars of God and the Baatara Gorge Waterfall both located in the mountains about an hour from Tripoli. I started looking for hotels and luckily I found Via Mina Hotel, a beautiful historic boutique hotel. If you have read my other articles, you know that I love small hotels because they provide a very personalized service.
Finding this hotel definitely influenced my decision to stay in this city that is not very touristy. If the name Tripoli sounds familiar to you, it is because it is also the name of the capital of Libya. They are Phoenician sister cities. It was very interesting to explore the city of Tripoli as it is the second largest city in Lebanon, after Beirut and has many attractions. The sad thing is that the war in the city is noticeable and in order to appreciate it you must see beyond your first impression.
Via Mina Hotel is in El-Mina not in Tripoli
Tripoli is a city that’s a little intense due to the large flow of cars and people. El-Mina is much quieter and is only 5 minutes from Tripoli. El-Mina means the port in Arabic, and it is to be expected since this small town is located on the coast. Its history dates back to the age of the Phoenicians, and is one of the oldest cities in Lebanon, along with Byblos, Tire and Sidon.
Being in the Mediterranean has its benefits, such as fresh seafood which you can enjoy in restaurants or in the seafood market. In addition there are several islands in front of El-Mina that can be crossed using a marine bridge or boat. The most popular are Rabbit, Palm, Sanani and Ramkin. One of the islands has a reserve of palm trees and others serve for the turtles to lay their eggs. They can only be visited in the summer.
Your home away from home in Lebanon
The hotel’s motto is “your home away from home” and the truth is that they make you feel at home. I wrote them first on Facebook and they responded right away. It is difficult to get information about tourism in Lebanon, especially in this area. I had thousands of questions and they helped me a lot with key elements needed in order to organize my trip.
They welcomed us very warmly upon arrival, as if we had been lifelong friends. Initially I had requested a single room but as I ended up going with my mom we were given two rooms together but separate. The hotel has only 16 rooms that include standard rooms, suites and suites for families.
We agreed to take a shower and change and then have dinner at the hotel. One of my favorite things were the bathroom amenities.
Tripoli has a place called Khan Al Saboun where you can go to buy soap. Via Mina Hotel uses Bader Hassoun & Sons products that are made with organic ingredients since 1480. Of course we went shopping to take some home.
Via Mina was declared a historic boutique hotel by the Ministry of Tourism
The house where Via Mina Hotel is currently located is from the 19th century. It has a French colonial style with wooden floors and large windows. Upon entering there is an outdoor patio with orange trees. When there is better weather they serve food in this area. The hotel is white with light blue windows and on the right side of the property there are two banners that reach from ceiling to floor with the flag of Lebanon.
Once you enter, the first thing you notice is the spiral staircase made of iron. To the left of the room is the reception where they help you with any questions.
In the rooms they also leave some printed sheets with useful information about places to visit in Tripoli. If you do not want to drive (because they drive like crazy and it is difficult to get parking) I recommend that you ask the hotel to get you a driver for a very small fee.
The house has a dining room that also serves a delicious breakfast with typical breads that are included with the room. You can order Arabic or traditional American coffee. Via Mina Hotel has a bar but when we asked for liquor they didn’t have it. They went and bought us a bottle of wine outside the hotel. In Lebanon you can drink liquor commonly as the population is divided between Catholics and Muslims.
If you want a place to be, you can go to the lounge to watch TV or read a book. The Internet works very well, so if you need a place to work you can also do it there. Apparently the hotel has a beautiful pool with Arabic mosaics but as we went in autumn it was already closed.
I really enjoyed my stay at Via Mina Hotel and would recommend it to anyone who wants to visit a place where tourists don’t go.
For the best rates you can visit Booking.com