Luxury holiday destinations: Guide to Monaco from shopping, dining and pampering starting from Nice Cote d’Azur airport
The playground of the rich and famous is full of wonderful activities that caters to all and we provide you with a comprehensive guide of what to do and where to go
This article was written by Benoit Badufle and Yew Zhi Heng on behalf of the Monaco Government Tourist Bureau Asia Office.
With its posh hotels, a selection of Michelin Starred restaurants, constant and ubiquitous display of supercars as well as its energetic nightlife, Monaco is incontrovertibly the playground for the rich and famous and one of the world’s luxury capitals. For the world of fashion, the most prestigious labels in haute couture perfumes or jewellery, boasting ‘Monaco ’as a one-of-their retail locations is a must. Today, Monte-Carlo — its world-famous district and epicentre — enjoys one the largest & compact concentration of luxury retail in the world.
While shopping may more often be associated with Paris, Milan or London, Monaco has everything a modern debonair man or elegant lady is looking for. Monaco’s fashion and lifestyle also mirrors its personality, shaped for generations by the influx of wealthy immigrants, adventurers and inventors looking for patrons and sponsors, talented individuals and professionals lured by this unique and innovative environment. There is a little bit of everything for everyone albeit with a curated flair. So will you be attending one of Monaco’s celebrity-packed fundraising dinners? Looking for a bespoke accessory to bring back home to loved ones? or looking for something comfortable and inexpensive while on a leisurely time with your loved ones, worry not for indulgence can take all forms and shapes in Monaco and it can meet all budgets. Furthermore, visitors can still unwind in Monaco’s one-of-a-kind wellness centres — 007 style. With an easier and quick way to do tax-free clearance at Nice Cote d’Azur airport and one-of-a-kind wellness centres, what better way to live the life of a sophisticated traveller in Monaco?
Kicking it off in style
At Nice Cote d’Azur International Airport, Monacair’s counter is right there outside the baggage delivery room. The door to door exclusive service takes you to your hotel in Monaco in about 20 minutes including your transfers in private car and an unforgettable 7 minute flight with unspoilt vistas on the French Riviera and the alps as a background. The only thing missing is the James Bond tune but they promised me they’d be working in it. If you fly back to Asia after your sojourn in Monaco, the helicopter transfer also gets you a private check-in at Nice Cote d’Azur airport, away from the queues and the crowds.
Ladies always fall in love with the Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo. This Belle Epoque hotel is indeed one of the most beautiful in the whole region and many of its large, bright and uberclassy rooms command amazing views on the sea, the harbour and the Princely Palace. The staff is discrete and friendly and you are in the very heart of Monte-Carlo, with the Grand Casino and the Opera House at a stone throw.
Alternatively, one can also choose to stay in Hotel de Paris — Monte Carlo. The hotel which launched ‘Monte-Carlo” in the mid 19th century is THE reference on the French Riviera. Aside from having the only 3 Michelin Star restaurants in the region “Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse“ it is the epitome of posh, grandeur and luxury, favoured by the high rollers of the world.
In the summer, we recommend the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort that boasts spacious rooms, large terraces, gorgeous sea views over Italy, France and Monte-Carlo, a trendy cocktail bar, a 1 Michelin Star restaurant (Blue Bay) and the only sandy-bottomed lagoon in Europe. Another option for the season is the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel. Situated on the edge of Monaco, this Riviera-style jewel from the 1930’s boasts spacious rooms, large terraces, all with gorgeous sea views over Monte Carlo, a one Michelin Star all-organic-food restaurant (Elsa), and the most chic Beach Club in the region.
Shopping in the city
Those looking to shop till they drop can do so at the “Golden Circle” of Monte Carlo. Housing the Casino de Monte-Carlo, pebble-shaped Monte-Carlo Pavilions, Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, park Palace, the Grand Casino and the Hotel de Paris and the gardens of the Casino, the area is the place to go for haute couture. All the elegant shops are located in this absolutely walkable perimeter, filled with luxury goods and prestigious brands such as Prada, Hermès, Ferragamo and more. Many of these world-class brands have been known to sell items and accessories special to their shop in the Principality and which you can acquire only in Monaco. And remember, if the shopping fever gets you and you have too many bags to carry, most shops will gladly deliver your acquisitions to your hotel.
On the outer perimeters of the “Golden Circle”, The Metropole Shopping Centre is a one-stop complex housing 80 boutiques, six restaurants and a selection of seasonal pop-up exhibitions across three floors. You will fall in love with Philipp Plein’s baroque street wear while ladies will like the selection at Valentino Red or the collection of elegant shoes at Mercedeh. For men, Society Club Monte-Carlo offers an exclusive collection from American, English, French and Italian fashion houses, such as Tom Ford, Rick Owens, Saint Laurent Paris and Dolce & Gabbana. This luxury boutique attracts high-profile athletes and Hollywood elites and dresses officially H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco. For silverware, one must stop at APM Monaco. Founded in Monaco in 1982 the brand which specialises in silver has surprisingly affordable collections which are renewed every month. We loved the silver cuff from the Croisette collection which you can wear with jeans and a T-shirt during the day and glam up with your little black dress in the evening. Another store that you simply cannot miss, is the shop of La Manufacture de Monaco known for its luxury quality porcelain distinguished by being very white, hard and translucent. The line made in cooperation with Swarovski is stunning and can be a perfect gift to bring back home.
Pretty You Monaco, a 100m walk above the Metropole, represents in exclusivity in Monaco some of the most prestigious Couture brands, among others Zuhair Murad, Oscar de la Renta, Giambattista Valli, Jitrois, Reem Acra and more. For all the rich boys’ toys, Chopard brings you limited edition timepieces from its classic racing collection, including a line of automatic chronographs in honour of the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique event. Want to stand out from the crowd? Visit Temps & Passions, a luxury boutique offering watches, jewellery and accessories hailing from independent brands producing exclusive models or in small quantities. Taking a contemporary twist, Qlocktwo highlights time through words in a crossword puzzle – a conversation starter in any occasion.
Traipsing down the “Golden Circle”, one can never miss out a sophisticated and avant-garde building designed by Lord Norman Foster. The Yacht Club de Monaco represents the icon of Monaco as a yachting capital of the world. For a nautical dapper look, be sure to check out the Shopping Gallery at the Yacht Club of Monaco for brands such as Brooks Brothers, or even the house products at the YCM Shop for stylish accessories that double up as souvenirs from this iconic landmark. If you’re staying around in the month of April, then don’t miss out Top Marques Monaco, the largest and grandest show for supercars, watches, jewellery and even superyachts. From environmentally conscious TESLA motors, to vintage David Browns, to renowned Jaguars and Land Rovers, find all your toys right here in this exhibition.
Nourish the body
Business or casual lunches are at Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo’s Vistamar where the best local seafood is delivered and served beautifully by a super professional brigade while you glance at the views of the Yacht Harbour and the Princely Palace across it. Vistamar owns One Michelin Star but the lunch menus are incredibly affordable.
Eqvita, by Goran & Jelena Jokovic is a hot place in town for health-conscious men seeking the celebrity effect. “From Nature with Love” is the motto and the down to earth all-organic food and drinks are all scrumptious. A must try place indeed, also open at breakfast after your morning swim at the nearby and impeccable public beach.
For those who want to indulge, the original BeefBar is the place, in the Monaco’s Fontvieille district, along the Principality’s second Marina beneath the Princely Palace. Since 2005, it has been elevating butchery to new levels of sophistication to the great acclaim of the world’s jetsetters and beautiful people. (BeefBar is now in Mexico, Mykonos, Cannes and Hong Kong where it holds One Michelin Star).
Other options include Elsa at the Monte-Carlo Beach, where Chef Paolo Sari uses only locally sourced 100% organic ingredients, the only such restaurant to be awarded a Michelin Star. Across the Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, is L’Inattendu by Madeleine Badia. The raw food restaurant was first opened in 2014 and is a follow up to ‘eat juice’ in 2012.
For Japanese cuisine, you can head to the one Michelin star restaurant called Yoshi by Joel Robuchon at Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo. Chocolate therapy awaits at the Chocolate Bar, the only dessert spot on the French Riviera that serves up dropping pastries and creations by world-famed chef Joel Robuchon at the Metropole Monte-Carlo Hotel. To dine like royalty and celebrities alike, we suggest the Le Pinocchio on the small Square Bosio of Monaco Ville or a pre-dinner Spritz Aperol accompanied by jazz music at the Bar American of the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo.
Pamper the body
After all the shopping and dining is done, it’s time to give your skin some much-needed care and attention. Thirty Nine Monte-Carlo, created by ex-international rugby player Ross Beattie, conceptualises a modern sports club, coupled with a delicious yet nutritious dining experience and a hair and beauty salon. Thirty-Nine ensures that you look your best every single time and is truly the place to ‘feel good, look good’.
Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, rich in expertise, of more than 150 years in the area of personal well-being, recently developed four exclusive stays designed especially for the hardworking executives of our uber-competitive world. Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo aims to alleviate problems associated with the modern hectic lifestyle — weight gain, insomnia, hypertension — by coming up with programs in the areas of fitness, slimming, taking charge of your body and optimising physical and intellectual performance. The Cryotherapy is also a must try, it is available in very few such places in the world.
Finally, for great and comprehensive grooming experience, Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo hair salon gives you an authentic old-fashioned barber service. You know they know their stuff when they apply essential oils before they give you an impeccable shaving experience. An alum stone is then applied to purify and soothe the skin, complemented by a massage with an after shaving balm. Finishing off with a hot towel placed around the face: this is the ultimate relaxation.