I am sure you're wondering about the title... You'll get your answer towards the end of this review. I am still in shock...trust me... On my mission to find the best breakfast at a five star hotel in Lebanon, The Hilton Habtoor Grand Hotel was next on the list. After Le Vendome, Le Gray and Le Royal, The Hilton Habtoor Grand Hotel in Sin El Fil was a good choice. We reached at 09:30am to be welcomed by a professional staff working like a beehive. Three waiters, a hostess and a head waiter were all trying their best to please their clientele with a five star service.
We were seated at our table, asked if we would like to have coffee or tea, whether we would like a newspaper and given free Internet access. Nice welcome... Before eating, I went around, like I always do, to secure that I have enough picture to share with you. As I was taking the picture, the head waiter approached me and asked me why I was taking all these pictures. I told him that I was on a quest to find the best breakfast served at a five star hotel in Lebanon, and that I came here to enjoy my time. I continued with no problem... At first glance: The menu is wide and varied, the choices are good and the ambiance is calm and welcoming. A long square hall with six different food islands. A view of the hotel's entrance gets the needed amount of light in the room.
Six different islands include: Fruits, Sweets Section, Hot Preparations, Cold Cuts, Cheese and Labneh, Cereals, Fruit of the Month The choices available:
- Cold cuts and cheese
- Four different choices of Labneh
- Black Olives (plain and cut)
- Tomato and cucumber slices
- Five different choices of cold cuts
- Crab stick slices
- Nine different choices of cheese
- Nuts and dried fruits
- A wide choice of exotic and local fruits
- Fruit salad
- Croissants (Cheese, plain and chocolate)
- English cake
- Three choices of jam
- Several baskets of French bread
- Foul Mdamas
- Eggs (Fried, boiled, scrambled)
- Sausages and fried potatoes
- Cooked tomatoes and mushrooms
- Cooked vegetables
- Heated muffins
- The fruit of the month table (Strawberries)
The head waiter suggested we try their eggs. We ordered two plates: one sunny side up and one Spanish omelet. They were just perfect. They look very appetizing, not oily at all, fresh in colors and very tasty. Two thumbs up.
After taking the pictures I needed, I walked around again to take notes of some of the negative points I see around the buffet. Empty plates, dirty serving spoons and food debris on the table... An our after, I passed by again to see if the staff had cleaned them and filled the empty plates. All these little details were not taken care of.
What I didn't like:
- The place looks and feels too dull for a breakfast area
- The table setup looks cheap
- Cold cuts and cheese feel and look like they were prepared the night before. They don't look freshly cut on the spot. Their sides are rolled up around the corner and there's a humid layer of water/oil on top of each, which doesn't make it to appetizing. It seems their fridge is way too cold
- The buffet is not as clean as I would expect at a five star hotel
- Where are the table clothes? Aren't we in a five star hotel? Or are you trying to wash less?
- A choice of mini jam jars should be presented on the tables
- The serving spoons were too dirty
The head waiter approached me and asked me for my opinion about the experience. I stated my comments and he agreed with me...
Dear hotel managers, the buffet should be handled by one staff member who's sole job is to make sure that all plates are filled, no mess is left around the plates and serving spoons are kept clean... This one staff member should look after the buffet's details from 7am till 11am.
What I enjoyed:
- I liked the two choices of olives: Cut and plain
- The knefeh is a good idea, representing Lebanon's best breakfast choice
- Fayrouz songs play in the background
- I liked their chocolate croissant
- Some muffins are presented under a heating lamp giving them a crunchy and tasty feel
The moment you've all been waiting for... The unacceptable ending to my experience that washed out anything positive I experienced at the Hilton:
- Paying the bill was my ultimate shock!
Asking for the bill, I paid the bill of 100,000L.L putting a $100 bill. The hostess came back with 47,000L.L and said: "Sorry sir, but we consider every 100$= 147,000". !!!!!! I immediately called the bank to inquire about today's exchange rates and the answer: "$100=153,000L.L" You wanna screw tourists? Go for it, they won't even notice as al Lebanese are used to do it lately. But for a local that is supporting our hotels in crisis -considering they knew who I am and already had my business card- what happened is way too unprofessional and cheap. It's not the amount but the principle!
I was in shock. Imagine! Having breakfast in a respectful hotel in town which earns a living out of the 6,000L.L from every $100 paid. Can you imagine the amounts of money they make every single day? What a shame! For $35/person, adding to that $7 for the valet parking, the breakfast is not worth it. Breakfast at an hotel should be mastered not prepared every morning like a routine job thinking that the customers do not even care or notice details.