With everything happening in the world right now, nothing seems as horrible, as desperate to be helped, as the war front in Syria. Aleppo, once one of the biggest and most cosmopolitan cities in the region, is now in ruins, with images a heartbreaking reminder of its rich history - one that must be preserved now more than ever.
Founded in 1911 by the last owner's grandfather, who recently passed away this year, the storied inn and the country's oldest hotel has been visited by presidents and writers, artists and royalty. It was the place where King Faisal famously declared Syria's independence in 1918 on the balcony, where the real-life Lawrence of Arabia slept in room 202 and where Agatha Christie was inspired to write Murder on the Orient Express. From Rockefellers to Roosevelts, the Baron Hotel has seen it all, including, most unbelievably, it's own extinction.
It was in the not-so-distant past that Syria was a bustling destination for jet-setters, the next stop after Morocco. Reminiscent of The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Baron's influence can also be felt right here in New York City, especially at the Jane. The nightlife hot spot, cultural melting pot, and West Village hangout of some of the city's most influential (not to mention the location of our own GofG office), was indeed inspired by the grand institution after it captivated hotelier Sean MacPherson - the owner of staple hotels replete with cultural touches across NYC.
Once a guest there himself, MacPherson says, "Syria is a country that’s rich in culture and history and it’s criminal that it’s being destroyed. And the Baron hotel is just one small window into that culture and civility."
It's at times like these when parallels are important, when people like us, safe at home, must realize that Syria is not so far away, that history repeats itself, and that Aleppo, now in shambles, once looked and felt a lot like our own great cities here in America.
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