A WEEKEND IN MONACO
When you’re asked whether you’d like to be whisked away to Monaco, you don’t say no.
I was kindly invited by Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer for a long weekend on the Mediterranean coastline, to discover all that the group has to offer. I say ‘all’ but truth is, we only touched upon the surface, as Monte-Carlo SBM has hotels, restaurants, bars, casinos and wellness clubs by the bucketload.
Since my trip, I’ve been asked a number of times how Monaco was. And I always give my honest answer which is: amazing, but you need to have money to do it properly. And by properly, I mean splash out and live your best life, even if just for the weekend. Because Monaco doesn’t come cheap - especially if you’re staying/eating/drinking/lounging in the middle of all the action.
But is it fun to pretend for a weekend? Absolutely. And so we donned our finest threads and became part of this “other world” for 72 hours…
My boyfriend and I stayed at two hotels during our trip as Monte-Carlo SBM wanted us to experience as much as we could. The first hotel was the prestigious Hôtel Hermitage, located in Monaco’s Carré d’Or district and just a skip away from the main square filled with designer shops and the infamous Monte-Carlo Casino where James Bond was filmed. I’ll say here that the square is an attraction in itself: the people watching alone is worth an overpriced Aperol Spritz. Yes, it’s filled with posers but as an outsider gawking in, it’s really quite entertaining. You can so easily get swept up in the bubble that it carries you off into the clouds - only to come back down to earth again when the bill arrives.
There’s something demure about Hôtel Hermitage - the more subtle sister hotel to Hôtel de Paris (arguably the groups’s fanciest hotel of them all) but don’t let that fool you: the front entrance is still very much lined with supercars and you’re certainly likely to see a famous face or two. Inside is opulent but chic, and plenty of lounging spots incase being so fabulous tires you out.
We stayed in one of the hotel’s Deluxe Rooms complete with balcony, gigantic bed and a marble bathroom. But the best part of all was having the harbour views from the bed - peering into the lives of those who’s world’s are so far apart from our own!
The hotel also offers complimentary access to the Thermes-Marins Monte Carlo - the group’s out of this world wellness facility - located between Hôtel Hermitage and Hôtel de Paris. If you have a problem you want solving, it’s likely there’s a professional on hand to help you fix it here.
Thankfully the only problem I need addressing was a tired face and so I was treated to one of La Prairie’s signature facials designed to detoxify and purify the skin, leaving it all glowy and radiant. As far as facials go, this really was one of the best to deeply cleanse the skin and get rid of any congestion on my face. The therapist knew exactly what she was doing and I just left here to it, whilst I dosed off into a state of bliss (even when I was having extraction!).
For the ultimate in indulgence during your stay in Monaco, book yourself in here and make the most of that indoor pool whilst you’re at it.
Finally, no visit to Monaco would be complete without dinner at Le Vistamar, Hôtel Hermitage’s Michelin-starred restaurant. Book ahead and get yourself a reservation on the spectacular outdoor terrace and I guarantee it’ll be one of your favourite parts of the trip. Service is excellent, the food is delicious and everything is made even better with panoramic sea views and the Mediterranean sunset. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, then here’s the place to do it.
Though we didn’t stay at Hôtel de Paris (though I wish we had!), we still got to experience one of the hotel’s restaurants. That one being ÔMER - the second of Alain Ducasse’s openings in Monaco - which showcases the rich diversity of the Mediterranean. We visited ÔMER straight from coming off the plane so you can imagine how grumbling our stomachs were. ÔMER is a must visit for lunch - we feasted on the most delicious of dishes, from octopus to grilled aubergine, and all beautifully presented. A treat of a meal from start to finish.
After out pit-stop night in the thick of all the glamour, we headed 15 minutes along the coast to our new digs for the next two evenings, pulling up in our taxi at Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel. Instantly feeling a million miles away but still with a feeling of this is how the other half do their beach hotels.
Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel is haven filled with sea view rooms (which aren’t as expensive as you might think!). We stayed in one of the hotel’s Junior Suites - a spacious room with a balcony looking straight out onto the water and glass doors to the shower, so hopefully you’re sharing with someone you’re very acquainted with!
The hotel itself feels like it’s own resort. You have direct access to the Monte-Carlo Beach Club and an Olympic sized pool to get your paddle on in. There’s also Le Tigre Monte-Carlo which offers outdoor yoga and in-spa treatments (their signature massage is utterly divine to de-stress and unload any tension in the body) so you really can leave feeling like a whole new person.
Commitment to sustainable living and development is key to Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel and that’s evident in its restaurant Elsa - the first and only 100% organic Michelin-starred restaurant. The menu here features local, seasonal produce artistically presented and bursting with flavour. The dishes are light enough to enjoy for lunch but satisfying enough that you won’t go hungry. And make sure you leave space for dessert - the Rencontre de deux grands classiques, Saint Honoré et Tiramisu is well worth a face full.
A final place to tick off on your Monaco check list is La Vigie Lounge & Restaurant - perched on the cliffside, with views looking out over the big blue. We came here for drinks one afternoon (and may have got a little sunburnt in the process) as well as for dinner on our last night. The setting itself is well worth a mooch around but I’d recommend here for a light lunch and tipple (just make sure to check how much you’re spending as you’re going!) and play ‘which boat would you rather have’. Promise you, it’s fun.