Seemingly reserved for the upper echelons of society, Monaco has forever been a stomping ground for glitz and glamour. A picturesque microstate of opal, coral and periwinkle blue-coloured buildings, from the historic opera house – designed by Charles Garnier – the same architect behind Paris’s Palais Garnier, to the concentration of designer shops and the meticulously manicured gardens, there’s no shortage to see or do. Take in the summer air from the retractable roof of a fire-engine-red Ferrari or simply stare across the shimmering Mediterranean sea. And for the quintessential Monte-Carlo experience, decamp along the fabled Casino Square. The intricate Belle Époque building impresses both inside and out.
Decadence is sewn into the lining of every experience in Monaco. Founded in 1864, Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo is truly just as its founder François Blanc imagined, a “hotel that surpasses everything”. In 2014, the iconic property closed in order to undergo an intensive four-year transformation, and today, the grande dame has returned. This palace hotel abuts the Casino and Opera House, as well as boasting the best position in Monaco to watch the F1 Grand Prix blister past. It’s somewhere you would have found Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra and Roger Moore among its regulars and now, you would be well-placed to walk past the likes of Lady Gaga, Naomi Campbell or Julia Roberts.
The gorgeous and gilded interiors now house 207 rooms, 96 of which are suites. The design cues are classic with hints of modernity and with every contemporary technology you can imagine. Every room has a terrace, a brilliant addition considering Monaco’s bright and temperate year-round climate. The generous rooms feature white marble floors, Louis XVI-style furnishings and Murano glass chandeliers and lamps. It is worth noting that the Winston Churchill suite includes furniture that once belonged to the statesman himself.
Two of the most impressive suites in Europe if not the world sit in this hotel – the Princess Grace and the Prince Rainier III suites. Each multi-floored suite measures in at close to 11,000 square feet and features a gargantuan terrace with an impressive outdoor pool and hot tub. Here the interiors and the exteriors compete, as the rooftop views are sublime. Inside the floor-to-ceiling windows let in reams of natural light and this palatial two bedroom suite with dressing rooms, two bathrooms complete with sauna and steam room, multiple lounges, a dining room and an office is unlike any other. The Princess Grace suite was designed with the support of the Monaco royal family, and it includes artwork and family photos, as well as her favourite literary and poetic works, all donated directly from the royal household’s private collection.
For those seeking an alternative form of respite, the Themes Marins (connected to the hotel by a tunnel) is 75,000-square feet of heaven. The expansive facilities include a heated saltwater pool and a hammam and an extensive programme for preventative health care and wellness.
Le Grill is located on the eighth floor and offers a serious punch of Mediterranean views. The roof peels back providing a 360-degree panoramic view of the azure sea, fulfilling a wish of Maria Callas’s to dine overlooking three countries at once. And do not leave without trying one of the fluffy soufflés.
A new addition to the hotel is Ômer, the ground-floor garden restaurant. The intuitive design from Pierre-Yves Rochon is reminiscent of a boat, made up of three distinct alcoves, as well as the spectacular casino-facing garden and terrace created by France’s preeminent landscape artist Jean Mus. Helmed by Alain Ducasse, inside you’ll find a contemporary twists on credible Mediterranean cuisine. Dishes are designed to be shared and combine the essential flavours of Greece, Lebanon and Turkey, as well as Morocco, Spain, Nice and Malta. Breakfast, however, is distinctly French, with baskets of teeming pastries and flaky delights.
Of course, Alain Ducasse has long had a place at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo – thanks to his world-renowned three-Michelin-starred restaurant. From its hulking 30ft-high ceilings to its gold-gilded walls and Baccarat chandeliers, Le Louis XV is an impressive spot at every level. Also home to the world’s largest wine cellar, this icon of a dining establishment attracts everyone from Bond stars to lithe French ingenues.
Not more than a 20 minute drive from the esteemed Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, you will find the property’s delightful sister hotel. The Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel has been a paean to society scene since the 1920s. Set amidst the whimsical Cap Martin coastline and sheltered under a blanket of green pines, this dolce vita property is the epitome of French glamour and charm.
Moments from the Monaco tennis club, there is no where better to book when the annual The Rolex Monte Carlo Masters rolls around. part of the ATP World Tour Masters, this elite competition brings the world’s best male professional players to Monaco. Over the years, this clay-court competition has been won by such talented players as Gustavo Kuerten, Cedric Pioline, Andrei Chesnokov, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Guillermo Coria, Ivan Lendl, Novak Djokovic and the unrivalled Rafael Nadal, who won the tournament 8 times in a row from 2005 to 2012.
Open from March to October, the Monte-Carlo Beach blends French chic with Californian style. First opened in the 1920s, it was the legendary architect Roger Seassal who designed this now historic marmalade-coloured hotel.
And it was the chimerical Parisian designer India Mahdavi whose recent overhaul of the design has brought the hotel into its next phase. Frescoes inspired by Matisse and Cocteau decorate the walls of the 40 individually designed rooms and suites. An upmarket beach property, you’ll find soft white furnishings and Breton stripes punctuating the room and restaurant designs. The superior rooms have a terrace with steps down to La Vigie promenade – giving a sense of space and scope. And if you have time head outside and dangle your feet over hotel’s private jetty or do a lap across the Olympic-sized outdoor pool.
The Riviera’s finest sea vistas are gulped in from Le Deck restaurant, an idyllic outdoor spot serving salads and grilled fish or for a more laissez-faire experience pull up a table at La Pizzeria, for a crispy organic focaccia and a piquant pizza.
The true culinary wow factor happens at Elsa, the world’s first 100 percent organic Michelin-starred restaurant. Expect old-school charm – waiters in white dinner jackets – and a menu of unending delights. Expect a rainbow of colours and flavours on your plate and a focus on local, seasonal produce almost goes without saying. Breakfast is outstanding, a beautiful buffet of succulent meats and cheeses alongside an extensive hot menu made-to-order.
Health and wellness is a big part of the conversation here, most of which takes place in the spa – a separate terracotta-coloured building – 80 metres squared dedicated to all things wellbeing. Inside you will find three massage cabins, a hammam, and a host of treatments and programmes designed by La Prairie and eco-certified Ymalia treatments.
A place to show off, splurge and be seen, of course Monaco is all of these things, but it also proves an exciting getaway destination with heaps to do – from the tennis to the F1 racing to the Longines Global Champions equestrian tour – all while ending the day off at an extraordinary hotel truly fit for a king.