Hotel Metropole, Monte Carlo
Size is everything in Monte Carlo – it’s all about big cars, big money and big spenders. You can safely say that the billionaire’s playground (home to the Formula One Grand Prix) is the place the credit crunch forgot.
Where: Located between the French Riviera to the west and the Italian Riviera to the east, the scenery (mountains covered in tropical flora and fauna, acres of cloudless blue skies, as well as some of the most expensive real estate in the world) is as stupendous as the big rocks worn by the billionaire’s WAGs. Even the sea sparkles like it’s been sprinkled with millions of diamonds.
You can almost the wealth as you stroll down streets so clean you could eat off them, past Lamborghinis and Ferraris, super-sized yachts moored in the Port de Monaco and the designer boutiques on the Avenue de Monte-Carlo.
And that’s before you’ve gambled away a year’s salary in the legendary Le Grand Casino. The outside of the 147-year-old building is magnificent enough – and inside it’s all stained glass, chandeliers, sculptures… with a very strict dress code. Not exactly the place to bust out your best Primark pieces.
But while it might not be right for those on a backpacker’s budget, Monte Carlo isn’t intimidating. The locals are friendly and helpful and the vibe is as chilled as the champagne on ice.
The hotel: If you want to follow in the footsteps of Gwen Stefani, Leonardo DiCaprio and Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, the place to stay is the 141-room, five-star Hôtel Métropole (4 Avenue de Madone; 00 37 793 151 515). While it’s kept close to its past (it was built in 1886), with chic touches of chintz and antique-style furniture (you could imagine Marie Antoinette being perfectly at home eating cake under the atrium), it’s also cool enough to attract a young, fashion-conscious crowd to the bar and three restaurants (all overseen by über-chef Joël Robuchon).
The spa: Even if your budget doesn’t stretch to a night in one of the luxury rooms, you’ve got to try a treatment at the hotel’s luxury spa (Métropole ESPA Monte Carlo) – the relaxation room alone is so softly lit and calming, you could easily end up having a 12-hour kip there.
What to see: If you can tear yourself away from the swanky boutiques and streetside cafes, don’t miss the Prince’s Palace of Monaco where the Grimaldis reside – it’s a fascinating glimpse into the family’s history; also explore the Jardin Exotique, which is like a magical mystery tour around the most beautiful, tropical gardens. (Lose the heels though, you’ll be going up and down some steep inclines!) And make sure you stop by the Opéra de Monte-Carlo. You don’t have to like opera to be impressed by the grandeur.
All that sightseeing is thirsty work, so pop into the Black Legend club, now celebrating its first birthday. Since its opening, the club (the brainchild of Antoine Chevanne - of the Byblos, Saint-Tropez fame) has established itself as a landmark of rock, the ultimate supper club and the place to be seen. Sip on cocktails while being regaled with the best of Motown by its incredible house band. It’s classy and fun – just like Monte Carlo.
To book Stay 3 nights at Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo from £850 per person. Price is based on two persons sharing a Superior King Double Room on a bed and breakfast basis, economy flights from London Heathrow with British Airways, including private car transfers.
Based on 30 September 2011 departure.
For further information, contact Elegant Resorts Reservations on 01244 897515 or visit elegantresorts.co.uk
By Danielle Hine
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