Hotel Baron in Aleppo

The idea of building a luxury hotel in Aleppo rose at the end of the 19th century. Sometime around 1870, a member of the Armenian family of Mazloumian was on her way to Jerusalem for pilgrimage.

While passing through Aleppo which was—even at that time—a cosmopolitan center of commerce, she noticed how uncomfortable Europeans felt when staying in the traditional caravanserais.

Eventually, she decided to build something modern in Aleppo and the result was the Ararat Hotel, the first hotel in the region, at the end of the 19th century.

A few years later, before World War I, the brothers Onnig and Armenak Mazloumian enlarged their business by setting up the new Baron’s Hotel.

In 1909, amongst the gardens that were then on the outskirts of old Aleppo, they built the first floor of the current building; the second floor followed in 1911, and the third in 1940.

During the French mandate, the street where Le Baron was built, was named after General Henri Gouraud. After the independence of Syria in 1946, the government decided to rename the street after “Baron” for the fame and importance of the hotel.

Notable guests in Hotel Baron

The second floor of the hotel has witnessed the presence of political leaders and numerous cultural icons: Lawrence of Arabia slept in room 202 (there is a copy of his unpaid bar bill displayed in the hotel); King Faisal declared Syria’s independence from the balcony in room 215; Agatha Christie wrote the first part of Murder on the Orient Express in room 203.

The Presidential Suite was occupied in turn by Charles de Gaulle, King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Syria’s former President Hafez Al Assad, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (the founder of the United Arab Emirates), and the American billionaire David Rockefeller.

Other notable guests include Dame Freya Stark, Julie Christie, Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Kemal Atatürk, Lady Louise Mountbatten, Charles Lindbergh, Glenn Richer, and Yuri Gagarin.

by Nouné Yeranosian

Read also: In Aleppo, the fate of a legendary hotel hangs in balance

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