THE MAGICAL LAND OF MONACO

Monaco is known as the playground of the rich and famous. The mere mention of this magical place conjures up images of striking architecture, glamorous casinos, opulent dining, high-end shopping, beautiful beaches and Formulae One race cars tearing through the city streets.

The Principality of Monaco

Officially named the Principality of Monaco, this sovereign state is located in the midst of the Côte d’Azur. Bordered by France to the west, the north and the east, and by the Mediterranean Sea to the south, this enchanting location couldn’t be situated on a more desirable strip of real estate.

Officially named the Principality of Monaco, this sovereign state is located in the midst of the Côte d’Azur. Bordered by France to the west, the north and the east, and by the Mediterranean Sea to the south, this enchanting location couldn’t be situated on a more desirable strip of real estate.

This month, FACT magazine was invited by Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer, to experience three days and nights at the world-renowned Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo. Located on the escarpment at the base of the Maritime Alps along the French Riviera, in the most famous administrative area of Monaco, Monte-Carlo; we could not have been more delighted over this invitation.

Touching Down

After a comfortable six-and-a-half-hour flight, we touched down at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport in the early afternoon. Our lavish experience began soon after disembarking the aeroplane, with a luxury Mercedes, compliments of Hôtel de Paris, transferring us to the hotel. On route to our destination, we could already feel the captivating nature of the place, as we took in the mountain, beach and architectural views.

Housing 209 rooms including a variety of suites and newly modernised bedrooms, this uber-exclusive hotel has been designed to satisfy those who are used to an extravagant lifestyle.

Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo

Built in 1864, this fairy-tale venue recently underwent a €250 million transformation, to ensure it remains one of the most glamourous and sought-after hotel destinations in the world.

Housing 209 rooms, including a variety of suites and newly modernised bedrooms, this uber-exclusive hotel has been designed to satisfy those who are used to an extravagant lifestyle.

With four lavish restaurants, a renowned lounge bar, a beautifully equipped wellness centre, celebrated cellars, a Rossano Ferretti Hair spa, along with the perfect central location, Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo is equipped to guarantee the most lavish of hotel experiences.

Upon arrival we were greeted like royalty with professional staff members immediately attending to our every need. After a hassle-free check in, I soon found myself in my opulent bedroom, marvelling at the spectacular view from my balcony, overlooking the port of Monaco.

Calcutta marble, Tussar silk and Pima cotton are amongst the precious materials used throughout the spacious accommodation. Expertly crafted wooden furniture and antique mirrors, along with light and modern decorative touches, all added to the room’s upmarket character. The inclusion of complimentary fresh fruits and pastries added a nice welcoming touch to my arrival.

Evening Beverage at Le Bar Américain

Making our way to the grand lobby for our evening aperitivo, we had to stop on several occasions to take in various aspects of the hotel’s magnificent design and décor. The Belle Époque lobby itself is awe-inspiring, with its gilded high ceiling, impressive glass dome, massive crystal chandelier and bronze equestrian statue. The open-air inner courtyard, Le Patio, is a perfect location to sit, relax and take in the splendour of the property.

Entering Le Bar Américain, we felt as if we had been transported to the grandeur of the 1920s, with the bar itself looking like something out of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby.

Cosy ambiance and the sounds of a live blues band are what greeted us at this premium venue. Soft, fashionable lighting reveals the use of refined wooden surfaces, burnished leather furniture, deluxe décor and top-quality finishes, all of which add to the upmarket charm.

The bar’s new terrace offers remarkable views of Place du Casino, Casino de Monte-Carlo, and the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Dinner at Le Grill

After one of the best refreshments to ever touch our taste buds, it was time to further stimulate our palates at one of Hôtel de Paris’ iconic restaurants, Le Grill.

Located on the eighth floor of the hotel, this MichelinStarred restaurant features marine-inspired décor, Mediterranean gourmet cuisine and a view from the extended terrace that spans all the way to Corsica.

The restaurant’s roof opens fully and the stars are only the beginning of Le Grill’s breathtaking evening view. Lights from the coasts of Monaco, France and Italy are all visible, along with the illuminated boats moored along the bay.

Renowned chefs, Frank Cerutti and Patrick Laine, provide Le Grill with a wide assortment of meat and fish dishes, whilst Pastry Chef, Olivier Berger, has created an assortment of outstanding soufflés, a quintessential French culinary tradition in which we had to indulge.

Thoroughly satisfied by our dining experience at Le Grill, it was time to retire to our wonderfully comfortable beds for the evening. A better night’s sleep would be hard to come by.

The Monaco Experience

The following morning, we headed out for an early walk around Monaco, to experience as much of this enchanting location as we possibly could.

We began our adventure with a stroll along the worldfamous Larvotto Beach in Monte-Carlo. After an hour of fresh sea air and phenomenal Rivera views, we turned our attention to the cities, taking in the exteriors of several famous monuments.

These landmarks included the impressive Cathedral of Monaco built in 1875, the Oceanographic Museum, the Odeon Tower, The Louis II Stadium, The Grimaldi Forum, and the Monte-Carlo Casino; a venue we would become better acquainted with at a later stage.

We ended off our architectural tour with perhaps the most impressive building of them all, The Prince’s Palace of Monaco, the official residence of the Sovereign Prince.

Constructed as far back as 1191, this fortress has a long, rich history and we could have spent all day taking in the intricate details of its design.

Before heading back to the hotel, we had to take a walk along a section of the almost 3.5km circuit of the Monaco Grand Prix. Considered to be the jewel in the crown of the Formula One calendar, this famous stretch of road offers stunning views of the yacht-packed harbour, as well as the grand buildings of Monte-Carlo.

With a plethora of scenic views, high-street shopping locations and exclusive dining venues, Monaco has plenty to offer all those willing to shell out the Euros.

The Princess Grace Suite

After a quick yet scrumptious lunch at our new favourite aperitivo spot, Le Bar Américain, we headed for our specially organised tour of Hôtel de Paris’ world-famous Princess Grace Suite.

The hotel’s Prince Rainier III and Monte-Carlo suites are two of the finest hotel suites ever built, however, the most exclusive and exceptional location in the hotel, and on the entire Riviera, is the new Princess Grace Suite. Inspired by the timeless elegance and delicate refinement of Princess Grace of Monaco, this 910sq/m suite is spread over two floors at the very top of the hotel.

As we slowly made our way around the accommodation, taking in all the refined details, we appreciated the expertly crafted furniture, antique items and premium materials utilised throughout. Precious wood, mother-of-pearl, straw marquetry and agate panels all adorn this exceptional suite. The seventh floor contains a large bedroom, a bathroom with a deep tub, a steam shower and sauna, a beautifully crafted desk, two walk-in wardrobes, a spacious lounge and a private cellar. Making our way to the top of the exquisite marble staircase, the eighth floor revealed another gorgeous bedroom, a bathroom with tub and shower, as well as a living room and a dining room. From here, guests can access the sublime outdoor space.

As we stood on the 440sq/m terrace, we marvelled at the majestic views of the Prince’s Palace and the Mediterranean Sea. A heated infinity pool, an outdoor lounge and a rare granite Jacuzzi, are all located in this deluxe outdoor area.

Casino de Monte-Carlo

Still processing the sheer magnificence of the Princess Grace Suite, we soon found ourselves on route to one of the most exciting stops on our itinerary, dinner at Le Train Bleu, in the heart of the world-famous Casino de Monte-Carlo. Established in 1863, Casino de Monte-Carlo, with its Belle Epoque architecture, offers an exceptional selection of gaming and top-quality entertainment. One would struggle to find a more impressive and luxurious casino anywhere in the world.

This famous venue is featured in not one but two Bond films: Never Say Never Again starring Sean Connery, and Goldeneye starring Pierce Brosnan. Frequented by celebrities from around the globe, this A-list destination could not be any more glamourous.

As we made our way, wide eyed, towards Le Train Bleu, we attempted to take in all the sophistication and attention to detail poured into the building’s interior composition.

Dinner at Le Train Bleu

At Le Train Bleu, one can expect nothing less than the very best of everything. With its elegant and refined layout, overlooking the Place du Casino, we once again found ourselves rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous.

The configuration of this exceptional venue is a reproduction of a premier restaurant car. All details, including the paintwork, wooden finishes and choice of colours, were selected to pay homage to the grandeur of Belle Epoque-era passenger trains.

Offering a gourmet take on fine Italian cuisine, we were hugely impressed by the quality and presentation of their culinary offerings. Designed to delight the most discerning of palates, the menu offers a wide array of painstakingly prepared, succulent dishes and decadent desserts.

By the time our evening was through, we left the venue feeling like 007 himself, ticking off an item we hadn’t even dared to add to our bucket lists.

Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo

After an exceptional second night’s sleep, we made our way to yet another remarkable Monacan location, Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, for a day of health and pampering.

This 6,600sq/m facility is dedicated to wellness, fitness and preventative health. It offers an assortment of treatments and is equipped with a wide range of technology designed to assist anti-ageing, slimming, health and performance.

Thermes Marins houses a large terrace, a swimming pool, a steam room, a sauna, a bar/lounge area, an outdoor Jacuzzi, a solarium, a hammam and a panoramic fitness room, amongst other exceptional amenities.

Cryotherapy

My first treatment was to be Cryotherapy. In preparation to enter the minus 110-degree room, I removed all metallic objects and ensured all my extremities were covered. Without this covering, frostbite would be a real concern and fingers or toes could be lost.

To begin, I entered the first room set at minus 60 degrees. After acclimatising for around 15 seconds, I entered the second room, immediately feeling the impact of the minus 110-degree temperature.

It is hard to explain the sensation of this type of environment. My breathing became akin to slow panting and time seemed to stand still. After what felt like a few minutes, a voice over the microphone informed me that only 20 seconds had passed.

Over the course of this three-minute treatment, I attempted to go into a mediative state, controlling the flow of my breathing. After what seemed like half an hour, my three minutes were up and I happily stepped out of the cold zone. As my body slowly returned to a fully functioning state, I could feel the rejuvenating effects of this unique and revitalising treatment.

Tailormade Massage

My next experience was to be a ninety-minute, full body, deep tissue massage.

Already deeply relaxed from the cryotherapy, my body welcomed the special attention given to its weary muscles. The quality of this massage was so outstanding that I fell asleep at around the 45-minute mark and only awoke once the professional rubdown was complete.

Lunch at Hirondelle

To finish off our Thermes Marins expedition, we sat down at the venue’s health restaurant, Hirondelle, for a quick bite. Boasting beautiful views of both the Monaco Port and the Rock of Monaco, this sun-filled setting has a gourmet menu packed with low-calorie, tasty cuisine; perfect for a post-treatment meal.

Dinner at Buddha Bar

After a few hours of deluxe down time at the hotel, it was time to satisfy our culinary cravings once more.

As one of the most sought-after restaurants in Monaco, Buddha Bar Monte-Carlo is a spectacular venue showcasing a 7m-high ceiling, premium wood finishes, a gigantic Buddha statue, intricate cornices, beautiful gilding, and many other exceptional features.

Chef Éric Guillemaud is responsible for the menu consisting of Asian culinary delights from Japan, Thailand, China, and Southeast Asia. He combines these delightful dishes with French culinary excellence, resulting in meals fit for royalty. Seated on one of the two open-air terraces, we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner, along with the subtle blend of chillout, lounge and world music provided by local icon, DJ Papa.

Time to Say Au Revoir

After a third night of blissful sleep, it was time to prepare for our journey home. As we packed our belongings and made our way to the lobby, we received plenty of well wishes from staff and soon found ourselves back in a premium Mercedes, making our way to Nice Côte d’Azur Airport.

On the flight back home, we sat and reminisced over our once-in-a-lifetime adventure. From the exceptional Hôtel de Paris to all the spectacular views, meals and venues we were fortunate enough to experience, we could not have felt more satisfied and grateful to have undertaken this truly captivating journey. ✤

GO: VISIT WWW.MONTECARLOSBM.COM FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR TO MAKE A RESERVATION.