Monaco has it all. From prestigious hotels to high-end spas, Michelin-starred restaurants, stunning natural surroundings and exciting entertainment, this destination promises unforgettable moments in abundance. Full of life, full of magic, full of hospitality – this is a sought-after sanctuary where time almost seems to stand still.
Luxury and the art of hosting have always been an integral part of Monaco. The iconic Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo was the first hotel in the world to offer hot water in its rooms, setting the hospitality standard high all those years ago. Wellness is also essential to the Monaco experience, with notable names such as Givenchy and Karl Lagerfeld inspiring well-being institutions in the country.
With Monaco boasting 300 days of sunshine per year on average, it is an attractive destination for those in search of a holiday filled with Vitamin D. All of this sunshine makes enjoying the outdoors all the easier, allowing visitors to find delight at every turn in the Principality.
The Mediterranean Sea and sparkling pools of the elite Monagasque establishments eagerly await to delight visitors. Almost all aspects of the country take advantage of the divine sea that hugs its coast. From bars built on the beach to hotel rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the shoreline, Monaco has been designed to soak up the Mediterranean’s splendour from every angle.
Port Hercule, located in the extension of the Monaco Yacht Club, is one of the best spots in Monaco to lap up the sea views and enjoy a taste of the local life. A visit to the Société Nautique restaurant to savour in a relaxing moment with your feet in the water is a must. As the sun sets on the horizon, take a stroll and gaze at the superyachts moored on the Quai des États-Unis before stopping at Brasserie de Monaco to enjoy a local beer in a laid-back, festive atmosphere.
Meanwhile, the Port of Fontvieille, located on the other side of Monaco-Ville, fuses the old with the new. It’s a splendid meeting place of local boats and latest-generation yachts where the ambience is more intimate, authentic and charming. Here, the renowned Oceanographic Museum and the Cathedral stand as worthy sentinels overlooking the waves, while numerous restaurants and bars provide a gentle social hum in the backdrop. From local Italian institution La Salière to genial wine bar Le Rouge et Le Blanc, there are many enjoyable spots to sit back, relax and soak up the sea views and Mediterranean sunshine while sampling some fantastic food and drink.
For moments of complete peace in the Principality, the newly renovated and eco-friendly Larvotto Beach is a great place to visit. Welcoming guests of all ages, this venue boasts a pergola-covered promenade and a completely refreshed beachfront. While enjoying the sound and scent of the waves crashing against the shore, guests can nibble on fine fare from a variety of restaurants in the seaside complex, including the refurbished Marco La Rose des vents, La Note Bleue and Miami. Or, if you’re after a sweet treat, enjoy a delicious ice cream from Maison Mullot with your feet in the sand and the sun kissing your skin.
A different and more exclusive side of the sea can also be enjoyed at Le Méridien Beach Plaza. Its private beach and jetty serve as the idyllic launchpad for water-based activities such as snorkelling, swimming, and water skiing.
The Monegasque hotels have forged a new frontier in hospitality where service, discretion and serenity go hand in hand to create the most memorable experiences for guests.
The rose-encircled Columbus Hotel, which has enchanting views of the Princess Grace Rose Garden and its impressive collection of over 6000 scented roses, celebrates the local atmosphere and Monegasque way of life. With modern design elements and a convenient location, this hotel is the perfect base from which to explore Monaco.
For Formula One fanatics, Fairmont Monte Carlo is where you’ll find the ultimate delight. Positioned on the famous Fairmont Hairpin bend, guests can walk onto their balconies and experience all the exhilaration the race brings from a comfortable, privileged position. But the Fairmont Monte Carlo boasts many other exciting aspects too, such as its rooftop with a heated swimming pool and renowned Nikki Beach restaurant serving Mediterranean-style cocktails and healthy bites to spellbinding sea and city views. For fun evenings, visit the Casino de Monte-Carlo, located a few metres away from the hotel.
The Port Palace Hotel is another hotel offering incredible views that will captivate guests. Port Hercule and its plethora of yachts can be seen from each of its 50 rooms, along with the Prince’s Palace and the Mediterranean sea beyond. Located further north, the luxe Le Méridien Beach Plaza also boasts sea views from its expansive rooms, and it is the only hotel in Monte Carlo with private beach access.
Design connoisseurs will find the utmost delight in the beauty of the rooms at the Métropole Monte-Carlo. In particular, the prestigious Suite Carré d’Or designed by Jacques Garcia, which offers exclusive views over the Mediterranean Sea, the Casino de Monte-Carlo, the Casino square and the Casino gardens.
If you prefer blue over beige, then the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort may be more your cup of tea. The rooms at this hotel are lacquered in fifty shades of blue, reflecting the hotel’s turquoise sand-bottomed pool and the deep blue sea that stretches out on the horizon.
If a city-centre location is of prime importance, then Hotel Hermitage in Monte Carlo is the best choice. A Belle Époque masterpiece, this hotel exudes romance and serenity. An excellent place to enjoy the hotel’s stellar ambience is at its Michelin-starred restaurant helmed by celebrated French chef Yannick Alléno.
Another stunning hotel located in the heart of the city is Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo. Recently renovated, it is also a gastronomic hotspot offering Michelin-starred cuisine, along with a world-class spa and the best in service and comfort.
Monaco is certainly famous for its exclusive boutiques and shopping opportunities, but the nation is also home to a plethora of nature-imbued wonders. The Principality is dedicated to retaining an abundance of greenery, with a solid policy in place for garden and park development. There are more than 250,000 square meters of green spaces in the city-state, making it the second greenest metropolis by area in Europe after Vienna.
St Martin Gardens is the Principality’s oldest garden. Opened in 1816, it was built on an abandoned plot to provide work for residents when famine struck Monaco in the 19th century. Today, the garden boasts a variety of Mediterranean and exotic flora, which can be viewed from its many winding paths that hug the side of the iconic rock. Many statues have also found pride of place in the garden, including a bronze statue of Prince Albert I created by artist Francois Cogne.
The Exotic Garden of Monaco, which sits high on the cliffs above the state, showcases nature in all its exuberance and eccentricity. Spread over 15,000 square meters, this garden is home to a thousand cacti and other succulents. Opened to the public in February 1933 and supplemented in the 1960s by a botanical centre and specialist tree nursery, the garden is one of the Principality’s most visited tourist attractions. At the base of the cliff on which the Exotic Garden is situated, there is also a limestone rock cave that the public can visit. The Exotic garden is currently closed for renovation and will reopen in 2022.
Monaco’s Japanese Garden, which features a pond, islands, a waterfall, lanterns, bridges, a tea house and a Zen garden, transports visitors to the land of the rising sun. It is a unique attraction that presents a rich mix of Japanese tradition and Mediterranean touches, right in the centre of the Principality.
The Casino Gardens that encircle the Société des Bains de Mer offer a serene space in the heart of Monte Carlo. Designed by renowned architect Edouard André, the garden features classic French elements in combination with landscaped valleys, waterfalls, streams and ponds, all accented with distinctive exotic touches.
To find out more about Monaco and why it is a must-visit destination, take a look at the Visit Monaco website.
Images © B. Vergely