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Monaco magic: The insider’s guide to Monte Carlo

By Selene Nelson  |  December 3, 2019

The French Riviera isn’t short of chic coastal towns, but there’s just something about Monte-Carlo: this is a place synonymous with glamour and wealth; where you’ll find Porsches and Ferraris on every corner, where celebrities dine in the world’s finest restaurants, where views of the azure waters are blocked only by immense, gleaming superyachts. Here’s your insider’s guide to Monte-Carlo.

Where to stay

Hotel de Paris

The legendary Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo has recently seen a total style transformation

Smack bang in the middle of the action, right on Place du Casino, is the legendary Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo – which has recently seen a total style transformation. With a host of new suites and rooms, this is where to come to experience unrivalled luxury – and to really feel like royalty, stay in the Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III Suites, which offer comfort and style that’s unparalleled on the French Riviera. If you want to rub shoulders with celebrities in the lobby and swim in pristine rooftop pools, this palatial hotel is for you.

Great for foodies, Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo features several world-class restaurants: guests can dine at Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse on the first night, Le Grill on the second, and ÔMER on the third. There’s plenty to do after eating, too; enjoy cocktails while listening to live jazz at Le Bar Américain, sip tea in the splendid Jewellers’ Courtyard, or head up to the panoramic terrace on the eighth floor to admire the glittering view of Monte Carlo.

Monte Carlo Beach Hotel

The Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel is just a quick cab ride from the bright lights of the city

If you prefer beaches to cities, head to Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel, which is sprawled along the Cap Martin coastline, just a quick cab ride or gentle stroll from the bright lights of the city. With the Mediterrannean waves gently lapping below and palms and umbrella pines above, the super stylish Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel will make you think you’re on your own private island – and with its nostalgic nods to the era it was built – the 1920s – perhaps that you’ve stepped back in time, too.

The nautical bedrooms are spacious, modern and filled with light, and many lead down to the La Vigie promenade beneath. The hotel’s 100% organic Michelin-starred restaurant Elsa draws visitors from all around Monaco (and further afield), and all vegetables are lovingly grown in the hotel’s own gardens. The private beach and Olympic-sized pool are always busy in the summer months, but when it is colder guests might prefer to kick back at the luxurious Le Tigre Monte-Carlo spa.

Where to eat and drink

COYA Monte Carlo

COYA Monte Carlo offers a wide ranging menu drawing inspiration from Peruvian cuisine

Perched between the Salle des Etoiles concert venue, the famous Jimmy’z nightclub and the deep blue sea, COYA Monte Carlo has one of the best locations in the city. This is fusion food at its very best; drawing inspiration from Peruvian cuisine, here you can enjoy a verifiable Latin American feast.

The wide-ranging menu includes mouthwatering tacos, fresh fish and seafood, and unusual and creative vegetable dishes. Begin with cocktails on the terrace while you watch the sunset, then after dinner, head to the buzzing Pisco Bar and Lounge to keep the party going.

Buddha-Bar Monte-Carlo

Buddha Bar serves excellent Asian cuisine and is also one of the best places to party in Monte Carlo

If you prefer Asian food, dinner at Buddha-Bar is an absolute must. As soon as you walk through the doors and see the huge Buddha statue, you’ll know you’re somewhere special – and once you stare up at the seven-metre-high ceiling of sculptures, stucco and gilding, you’ll also know you’re not just here to eat. While the food is delicious –Thai and Japanese with a fresh, innovative twist – Buddha Bar is known as one of the best places in Monte Carlo to party. When the sun sets the resident DJ begins thumping out music from the outdoor terrace. Come for dinner… then stay until late.

Café de Paris Monte-Carlo

Café de Paris Monte-Carlo is a Monaco icon – one of the best places to people-watch, as well as treat yourself to some decadent cakes. Right on the Place du Casino, you can spend hours on the terrace watching people pass by – not to mention supercars pull up – but with a menu this delicious, you can’t not treat yourself. Whether you want breakfast, brunch or lunch, all dishes are made with local, seasonal produce – and trying the award-winning ice cream is a rite of passage. With flavours including pink sugared almond, salted butter caramel and mojito, if ever there was a time to triple-scoop, this would be it.

What to do

Visit the Casino de Monte Carlo

The Casino de Monte Carlo is a must visit for gamblers and non gamblers alike. Image credit cge2010/

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a gambler or not – you can’t not visit the Casino de Monte Carlo. Built in 1863, the hotel is as historic as it is lavish; as you walk beneath the towering columns, gilt-clad salons, ornate statues and shimmering chandeliers, you’re walking in the footsteps of historic figures including Napoleon Bonaparte and Winston Churchill. Past the slot machines are the famous salons where the serious money changes hands. Whether it’s your lucky night or not, make sure you head up to the terrace before leaving… who knows, the fresh air might give you a new lease of life…

Pamper yourself at the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo

If you’re not blissed out enough, pay a visit to the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo – an enormous spa that takes inspiration from both the Mediterranean sea and climate. Jump in the Jacuzzi and gaze out at stunning views of the port and the Rock, then head inside to take advantage of the pool, solarium, hammam, sauna and fitness room. Offering a range of holistic and indulgent treatments, the expert Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo staff can massage, soothe and smooth your troubles away… and with partners including La Prairie and Cellc, you know you’re in good hands.