The best places to shop for everything from haute couture to handicrafts in the Lebanese capital.
Beirut: Stylish shopping in the city
I'm planning on a short weekend break in Beirut where, I have heard, the shopping is fabulous. Can you suggest the best places to shop - from haute couture to food to handicrafts - around the city?
Beirut is wonderfully easy to navigate by foot - especially if you're there for a spot of shopping - but we warned: retail therapy does not come cheap.
Since every part of Beirut has something unique to offer, it's best to tackle the city in sections.
The shopping district in downtown Beirut is where you should head if you're looking for designer wear - from the flagship store of Lebanon's top designer Elie Saab on Omar Daouk Street (www.eliesaab.com; 00 961 1981 982), to Aïshti on Al-Mutran Street (www.aishti.com; open daily from 10am to 10pm), which stocks the latest desirables from Gucci, Chloe and Jimmy Choo.
Souk El Barghout, also in downtown Beirut, is a good place to look for jewellery, perfumes, souvenirs and shisha pipes.
For contemporary takes on traditional Lebanese designs and ethnic Persian fabrics, try Artisan du Liban d'Orient in Ain Mresseh (www.ohmycraft.com; 00 961 1998 822; open from 11am to 7pm; closed on Sundays). The shop also does trendy household accessories.
The recently refurbished Beirut Souks (www.solidere.com/beirut-souks/; 00 961 1980 650) in Bab Idriss - 100,000 sq m of glittering retail space designed by Zaha Hadid - should not be missed. It would take days to explore the more than 200 shops - you'll find everything from major brand stores to smaller boutiques by independent designers in the complex.
For more mall hopping, visit the neighbourhood of Verdun in west Beirut. It's crammed with shopping centres and is quite the foodie's hangout, too, with stylish restaurants and bars, and specialty grocery stores on every corner.
The city's most commercialised - and more affordable - district is Rue Hamra; here you'll find small local shops selling all manner of goods. Haggling is expected so try to bring the prices down. Avoid it on the weekends, though, when the area is really crowded.
Don't forget to visit Souk El Tayeb (www.soukeltayeb.com), Beirut's largest organic farmers' market, popular for the variety of cheeses and breads on sale.
Spend a day at the Sunday market at Jisr el-Wati in Sin-Fil, east Beirut, where traders and craftsmen from the surrounding provinces arrive early in the day to set up dozens of stalls full of handmade jewellery, ceramics, clothes, shoes and antiques.
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