The most recent member to join the network of guesthouses, L’Hote Libanais, is Gladys. Reem Joudi explores the homely guesthouse inside the village of Jinjleya, a 15-minute drive east of Sidon, and discovers the heart-warming family story behind it.
The two-story home is a quaint retreat with rustic charm. It sits on a large plot of land on which the host, Gladys and her two daughters Nancy and Nathalie, grow a plethora of fruit trees and vegetables. The sunlight, blue skies, and greenery that characterize the outdoor space flow into the home, which is decorated with color and different prints: shades of blue, white, green and florals. Light runs through all corners of the home, flooding the two guest rooms, named Wardeh and Ghazal. For Gladys and her two daughters, their Jinjleya home is an extension of their personalities – they reworked old furniture by hand, designing each piece with “a little finesse, a little taste and a lot of love”– the phrase Nancy uses to describe their style.
The house was built by Gladys and Elias Saab, a couple with two young daughters. In 1985, when Nancy was just under two and Nathalie only a few days old, Elias went missing (as with many men during the Civil War). Gladys found herself overwhelmed with the task of raising her two daughters alone; the home that her and Elias had begun to work on in Jinjleya was ruined during the war.
Over the years, Gladys and her daughters worked tirelessly to bring life to the family home. One of Nancy’s earliest memories is having many chairs, tables, and guests around the house; hence the idea of sharing their home came about quite naturally. The guesthouse is a homage to the past and present; a rekindling of Elias’ memory and a celebration of Gladys, the woman who struggled for over 20 years to bring her vision of the Jinjleya home to life. To her daughters and the many guests that enter their home, Gladys is a leading example; both in her generosity and in representing the resilience of Lebanese women, transforming her weakness into strength.
Words by Reem Joudi for L’Hôte Libanais
To reserve a room visit hotelibanais.com
In the kitchen
The Jinjleya trio grow a variety of fruits and vegetables in their expansive garden to use in their meals. Gladys cooks in an open-plan kitchen overlooking the garden. Fig jam, pickles, olive oil and even olive soap can be found there. The home is also famous for its lemon trees and the host always insists on guests taking back a bag of freshly picked lemons.
The many colors of the breakfast spread complement the delicious smells from the kitchen. A mix of traditional dishes like foul and manakeesh with omelettes and homemade bread fill the table.
Lunch and dinner
Gladys, Nancy, and Nathalie have been vegetarians for 10 years, so Gladys reimagines all her meals without meat. She prepares a mix of traditional Lebanese dishes (such as mulukhiyah) and universal favorites (like pizza) to suit all palates.