If you’re sailing in or out of Monte-Carlo, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to pay your respects to the Monte-Carlo SBM hotels. We at Luxury Travel Advisor recently stopped over after disembarking from a Mediterranean cruise and found our all-too-brief visit the highlight of our journey.
Each of the hotels we toured provided a different experience. Hotel de Paris and Hotel Hermitage, just next to each other (and both members of The Leading Hotels of the World), put you right in the heart of this intimate city, which is cozily situated between France and Italy. On one side is the dazzling port, lined with world-class yachts and cruise ships; high above is the Prince’s Palace, a fortress built in 1191. Because Monte-Carlo is so tiny, it’s a snap for Prince Albert and his family to pay frequent visits to Hotel de Paris. In fact, we hear the royal family uses it quite frequently for their social visits and that birthday drinks are regularly enjoyed at Le Bar Américain, where we hear the Barbajuans appetizers are to die for.
Even before you set foot in the legendary Hotel de Paris in Monte-Carlo, you’ll feel as if you’ve arrived. The stunning, historical hotel is just steps away from the Place du Casino. In fact, the entire outdoor area is rather like a movie set, as locals and jet-set travelers sit in nearby cafés soaking up the 300 days a year of sunlight. Here, even the landscaping seems particularly more verdant in spring than it does back home.
|Karl Lagerfeld’s Former Villa was restyled by the designer himself and is now available for rental.|
Once inside Hotel de Paris, you’ll find nothing but grandeur on an elegant scale. Chandeliers and stately columns are complemented by cozy seating areas, and the fun of it all is that you never know when someone fabulous is going to walk right past you. It’s just that kind of place.
The hotel has a series of great accommodations, but the top digs in the hotel, and probably in all of Monaco, is the Churchill Suite. It’s got jaw-dropping views of the Prince’s Palace and of Monte-Carlo harbor (all the better to keep a personal eye on your yacht, we say), and two bathrooms so large you can almost get lost in them (one even has a panoramic view of Monaco’s waterfront). Churchill lived here on and off prior to World War II and his paintings (yes, he was an artist) are still adorning the walls. Otherwise, the two-bedroom suite has been completely modernized. It’s one of the “Diamond Suites” at SBM hotels, considered to be the ultra-premium accommodations in the portfolio.
We also loved Room No. 328, a Casino Suite, named for its exterior views (you can also see the Café de Paris across the way). The suite can also connect to an adjacent one for a two-bedroom configuration.
Room No. 452, a standard room, sports the newest guestroom designs at Hotel de Paris, which has a city view. The look is all a nifty dark brown and tan and measures about 377 square feet.
We dined at Le Grill, a luxurious restaurant with sea views; in fact, we say this is one of the top places on earth to visit for a meal. You almost get used to attentive service and the to-die-for vistas of the Med, but what set us back on our heels the most was the soufflé we ordered for dessert, the toughest part of which was deciding which type of flavor we wanted to add to it. (Think chocolate, raspberry, Grand Marnier, lemon or pistachio). Put this dining experience on your bucket list. If you have time, and you must ensure you do, dine also at the three Michelin-starred Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse, as well, which has been open for the last 25 years. Note: Jacket and tie are “recommended” here.
|Monte-Carlo Beach club has a chic pool scene during the high summer season.|
One of the fun elements of Hotel de Paris is that it’s connected to its sister property, Hotel Hermitage, via a stunning spa, Les Thermes Marins. Unique to the spa is its expansive swimming pool that’s just dripping with sunlight, thanks to its towering windows. There’s also a bar serving spa food, a lovely outdoor dining area and a sun deck.
For information on renting the four-story spa for a private party, contact its deputy manager, Christine Zoliec ([email protected]; 011-377-98-06-69-03), or the spa director, Frederic Darnet ([email protected]; 011-377-98-06-69-01). They can also advise on customized treatments or on their newest offering, the Indiba Body therapy, which uses radio frequencies induced by electrical currents to reduce sagging skin.
|The Winston Churchill Suite at Hotel de Paris is akin to having an apartment in Monaco.|
A walk through a “tunnel” will bring you to an elevator to Hotel Hermitage, which is a bit more casual in style than Hotel de Paris. When we visited, there were leisure and corporate travelers keeping the lobby scene humming at a steady pace.
What we loved: Breakfast is served here in the historic Salle Belle Epoque ballroom, which is also a great venue for weddings.
We loved our glimpse of the Crystal Terrace, a beautiful sundeck overlooking the sea, which is known as the place to view the Monaco Grand Prix.
Hotel Hermitage is run by General Manager Pascal Camia ([email protected]). We loved the two-bedroom Duplex Suite (one of the SBM “Diamond Suites”), where a steel and glass stairway leads to a large sunny terrace. Overlooking the Mediterranean, it is an ideal place for a super-posh cocktail party.
|A Duplex Suite at Hotel Hermitage has a huge sundeck with a sea view.|
A car ride away is the Monte-Carlo Beach Club, which differs dramatically from the high-society vibe of Hotel de Paris and the busy business pace of Hotel Hermitage. In fact, the Monte-Carlo Beach Club is a member of Relais & Châteaux, reflecting its more intimate setting and relaxed, yet chic, atmosphere. The 40-room resort, run by General Manager Daniele Garcelon ([email protected]), is open between March 2 and the end of October and is wildly popular in the summer, which is dubbed “very high season” by executives. We visited a Loft Suite (Room No. 6), which has a sea view and terrace, as does every other room in the house. The spacious bathroom was modern and marble-lined, with double sinks and a large tub. Nice Touch: A porthole-shaped window was set high enough for privacy and still allowed a great view of the Mediterranean. We loved the black-and-white photos of jet-set days of yore in Monte-Carlo throughout the hotel.
|The Pool at Les Therme Marins is a highlight of the spa that connects Hotel de Paris and Hotel Hermitage.|
As the sun sets over the resort, the evening heats up, thanks to the Sea Lounge nightclub and Le Jimmy’z disco.
Fun Fact: SBM operates more than 30 other establishments in the area that include restaurants, nightclubs and bars: Your black electronic room allows you to charge items throughout the entire network (including all hotels) and garners you free access to the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo.
For any special requests or to make special arrangements for your A-listers at any of the SBM hotels, contact the very attentive Sylvie Cristin, director of leisure and individual sales, at [email protected]
|The New Room Design at Hotel de Paris sports chocolate and tan hues.|