Monte Carlo perfectly embodies a dazzling dream. Between the S.B.M. group and other hospitality-industry power players that have built up the area, the principality has emerged as one of the fanciest—and most fun—places to visit. Follow in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Winston Churchill, who frequented Monaco’s iconic playground. Sure, you’ll get to rub elbows with the mega-rich and famous, but you’ll also feel pretty posh yourself.
What started as the center of seaside leisure has remained the gathering place for summer travelers. And if you’re lucky enough to score one of the 40 rooms, you can stay and splash in the same picturesque locale. Focused on well-being and the art of living, the charming hotel was redesigned by India Mahdavi in 2009. The “Riviera Red” building and adjoining property have retained the joie de vivre of the Roaring Twenties while still being one of the most innovative and refreshing resorts in the world.
The palace awaits. The “Belle Époque”–listed historic monument is the epitome of classic elegance. Tranquil and refined, the hotel manages to fuse modern amenities with the genteel feel of a bygone era. Rooms are fit for a princess, and with sparkling chandeliers, high ceilings, vanities, and gallery walls, you’ll feel like you are truly getting the royal treatment. With views of the Mediterranean and exceptional ambiance, the Hermitage is a gem.
If you’re going to splurge on an extravagant meal (and when you’re here, you might as well), this should be it. Boasting three Michelin stars, it was the first hotel restaurant to be awarded the distinction. Ducasse has maintained that quality since that award, serving up local Mediterranean flavors in a gilded dining room.
Consider this a taste of paradise. Nestled above the rocks, amid lush greenery, this gourmet seaside restaurant is the place to go for fresh fish specialties. Its location at the Monte Carlo Beach Club makes it accessible by boats during the day, so expect to catch a glimpse of those yachts you’ve been admiring and the mysterious magnates who own them.
Regardless of where you are staying or heading for dinner, make sure to leave time for cocktails at the Hotel Hermitage’s Crystal Bar. Sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine from an extensive and impressive list while you take in the sparkle of Monaco’s bustling harbor at dusk. On select evenings, a live band will enchant you. And if you’re anything like us, there’s a chance you’ll become so enthralled that you’ll end up canceling your dinner reservation and savoring the scene here instead.
Chic and understated, the Odyssey at the Hotel Metropole is the go-to spot for refined, bright young things. Designed by Karl Lagerfeld, the poolside lounge is easily the most stylish spot in town. With twinkling lights transforming the water into a constellation, you’ll be star-struck by the beauty that abounds.
After a day spent in the sun at the Monte Carlo Beach Club, make your way over to sunset at the Sea Lounge. The neo-baroque decor and clubby atmosphere make it a posh “day party” spot that transitions seamlessly into the night. Take in the sounds of the two resident DJs as you sip a glass of bubbly from an extensive champagne list. Order fresh sashimi from the sushi bar or an organic pizza to hold you over before a late dinner.
Consider this Monte Carlo’s answer to the rooftop bar craze. Set atop the Fairmont Hotel, this trendy spot gets bumping late into the night, and revelers party into the early-morning hours. The crowd seems to migrate between here and the Casino so you get a proper mix of satisfied winners and the good-luck charms who are ready to celebrate.
Celine, St. Laurent, Prada, Gucci, Cartier, and more surround the iconic Monte Carlo Casino. Whether you win at the tables or simply want to score the season’s hottest bag at a slight discount, we suggest you check out these locations, if only for the window-shopping and people-watching.