Like a movie set come to life, everything seems to sparkle with more grandeur, with more drama, with more magnificence in Monte Carlo.
The last leg of our Côte d’Azur travels was incredible. Monte Carlo was a fantastic, opulent dream, mainly because of the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Hotel Hermitage . Large tiered crystal chandeliers pour from the ornately trimmed ceilings, long hallways lead to white rooms filled with pops of color, and a cupola towers intricately above the lobby and upstairs dining area that was designed by Gustave Eiffel, who is best known for designing the Eiffel Tower.
The opulence continued to pour into our sea view suite which had a large bathroom, walk in closet, separate sitting area and living area, and a beautiful king bedroom with plush bedding. Our balcony view showcased Sailing Yacht A, which looks much like a transformer, and a view of the palace which dazzled at night.
Hotel Hermitage is walking distance to many attractions including the world-famous Monte Carlo Casino which all tourists can enjoy and Cercle d’Or, the high end shopping area encased in a modern space-age like pavilion.
Guests of Hotel Hermitage can also enjoy loungers at the Monte Carlo Beach Club which is perhaps the best place to enjoy the vibrant blue Mediterranean and people watch along the entire Cote d-Azur.
The spa at Hotel Hermitage is the largest spa in Europe with an extensive indoor pool, steam room, sauna, outdoor jacuzzi pool, and almost any service your heart desires. We would enjoy the spa each day after our time at the beach.
We arrived in Monte Carlo mid afternoon and after having been away from the beautiful Mediterranean for several days, were eager to get back to those blue waters. Giddy over our gorgeous room, we took in the balcony views before heading to the Monte Carlo Beach Club.
Passing first by the casino, we noticed the seemingly endless line of Ferraris, Bentleys, or Lamborghinis. Pulling into the beach club was a whole other experience. With countless Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Bentley SUVS, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, and other autos that looked like various versions of the Bat mobile, even the most uninterested ogler cannot help but stare.
The service at the beach club is impeccable, upon entering you are escorted to your choice of lounger or cabana. After a late lunch and a seaside nap, we decided to take a dip into the Mediterranean. The floating dock about 50 yards from shore was calling our name.
This summer I swam in the ocean. – Loudon Wainwright III
The Lapis Lazuli colored waters of the Mediterranean were one of the most enticing aspects of our Cote d’Azur travels. Not simply because of their beauty, but because of how they felt against the skin. The buoyancy upon immersion, the crispness of the dark blue yet crystal clear waters seem to swallow and embrace the body. The freeing and relaxing feeling of just being in the Mediterranean and swimming, it was easy to understand why for centuries people have flocked to the coast for healing.
After spending the afternoon at the beach club we realized that the sun was moving behind the mountains of Monaco and it might be time for dinner. The sun on the Cote d’Azur does not set until about 9pm which makes for longer days to enjoy the sea. We quickly freshened up in our room and then decided we would just walk and see what restaurants would be open. It was a Sunday night so many things were closed or not open late. We had been recommended a place called Rampoldi was we headed in that direction, little did we have any idea the fun encounter that was about to happen.
The entrance to Rampoldi alone was promising, a staircase descended into an art deco styled restaurant dressed in red and gold with walls lined in mirrors. Even though we hand reservation, as luck would have it we were escorted to a corner booth. Trying to eat mainly plantbased we were delighted to find an entire Vegetarian and Vegan section on the menu. Everything we ordered that night was delicious.
We were in Monte Carlo the same time as the International Television and Film Festival, which meant in moments of sitting down we would be approached by Mariska Hargitay to see if she could squeeze into the booth beside us for a tête a tete with another Law and Order cast member. She began to include us in her conversation and we would end up bantering back and forth, before long we were the only ones left in the restaurant. We got to witness the cast and Dick Wolf give the most beautiful toasts to each other commending their work and devotion to the Law and Order family. Bom Bom.
A decadent breakfast awaited us under the intricately designed cupola. From pastries to fresh fruit and juices to an array of entree options, guests can enjoy the buffet or order something from the menu. The service once again so very attentive and polite.
On the agenda for our second day in Monte Carlo was a visit to the Monaco Oceanographic Museum also known as the Jacques Yves-Cousteau Museum. The world famous oceanographer made his home in Monaco and was director of the museum for over 30 years.
From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to the earth. But man has only to sink beneath the service and he is free. – Jacques-Yves Cousteau
The Museum presents more than 6000 specimens in their mindfully reconstructed natural habitat. Discover the amazing species of the Mediterranean, the incredible diversity of the inhabitants of the coral reef and the monumental Shark Lagoon.
Also associated with the Museum, The Oceanographic Institute, founded by Prince Albert I, is committed to enhancing the knowledge of the richness and fragility of our oceans, while promoting sustainable management and protection of these important sources of life.
Perhaps the best secluded beach along the entire Cote d’Azur, a visit to Mala Beach in Cap d’Ail is a must. Covered in vegetation and juxtaposed by steep cliffs that jut into the sea, this swimming hole is a beautiful little piece of heaven. You will also find loungers for rent and two restaurants serving up food, drinks, and massages. Walk down stairs passed palms and pines to reach the beach. The only other access is by water taxi available for those coming in by boat.
After enjoying the morning in Cap d’Ail, we were yearning for the pampering and people watching of the Monte Carlo Beach Club. We spent the remainder of the day enjoying the sun and racing back and forth to the floating dock until once again it was time for dinner.
There are meals that are dinners and then there meals that are experiences. La Maree is one of the most magical dining experiences we have ever enjoyed. It could be the mouthwatering dishes that we enjoyed or the way the lights of Monte Carlo twinkle all around, but most likely what makes this meal the creme de la creme of dining is the service. It was apparent from the moment we sat down that our happiness was of the utmost importance for our server and by the end of the meal we felt like the Prince and Princess themselves. It was such a lovely experience that we embraced our server upon leaving and will undoubtedly be returning the next time we are in Monaco.
Like a kid eager to get to the candy store, my husband was once again ready to enjoy the Monte Carlo Beach Club. Being our last day in Monte Carlo we tried to soak in as much Mediterranean as possible.
For lunch on this day we were quite excited to try Eqvita. Eqvita is a plant based restaurant opened by Novak Djokovic. This restaurant has quickly become world famous and is definitely a hotspot, not just because of Djokovic but also because of its creative fresh cuisine. Djokovic claims that once he changed his diet he became a better tennis player, and so far the results are proof in the pudding. The food was out of this world delicious and I highly recommend putting this restaurant on your must dos in Monaco regardless of if your diet.
A little shopping around the Cercle d’Or and we had fully enjoyed our time in Monte Carlo. The hotel arranged a car for us to take us to the train station. We would be heading to Nice before leaving for the states.
Au Revoir Monte Carlo! See you again soon! To read about all of our Cote d’Azur and Provence travels click below: