As a playground of the rich and famous, Monte Carlo conjures up images of glitz and glamour like no other.
What the tiny principality of Monaco lacks in terms of size, it makes up for in stunning hotels and restaurants that have cemented the elegant destination as one of the world’s most chic locations.
Just a two-hour flight away from the UK, the coastal city – famed for its annual Grand Prix – is the perfect choice for a weekend of living life in the fast lane that will make you feel like a bona fide movie star.
After an early morning flight from London, we arrived at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport and headed straight to our accommodation for the weekend, the imposing Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort.
Offering fantastic views of the Mediterranean Sea, the contemporary development is set around a unique sandy-bottomed lagoon that meanders through stunning hotel gardens, offering a stylish, yet casual, vibe with comfort and relaxation key.
The 334-room and 22-suite hotel offers a perfect location close to the centre of Monte Carlo and features a golf course, spa and wellness centre, fitness studio, on-site casino, a conference room, hair salon and, of course, a helipad so the rich and famous can arrive in true unabashed style.
After a spot of lunch at the low-key L’Orange Verte eatery, the afternoon was spent relaxing – and people watching some of the hotel’s rather glamorous clientele – by the lagoon.
Next stop on our whistle-stop weekend was a pre-dinner drink in the Blue Gin bar, nicknamed the Waterfront of the Principality on account of its breathtaking view of the Mediterranean, before heading next door to the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Blue Bay.
We were treated to a creative and sumptuous seven-course tasting menu, complete with wine pairings, curated by Caribbean-born chef Marcel Ravin.
The restaurant – awarded a Michelin star back in 2015 – offered a delicate yet decadent journey of flavours, with impeccable service and attention to detail at every course.
With memories of the previous night’s gastronomic feast still fresh in the mind, the following morning we made the short walk around the bay to Monte Carlo Bay Hotel’s sister property, Monte Carlo Beach.
Set a relaxing distance away from the hustle and bustle of the buzzy Place du Casino, the 40-room property exudes riviera chic and has become a destination in its own right thanks to its Olympic-sized swimming pool and oh-so-stylish beach club.
Monte Carlo Beach opened back in 1928 and quickly became established as a hot favourite among a high society crowd, drawing in the most glamorous guests every summer.
After being given a contemporary makeover for its 80th anniversary, the terracotta-fronted destination has managed to retain its elegant 1920s style with a modern twist.
The perfect place for a spot of relaxation, it offers luxurious beach cabins, a sandy beach, and a floating deck in the middle of the crystal clear waters, which is ideal for sun worshippers.
At the heart of the serene hotel is an emphasis on organic food and local produce, which we were able to sample at Elsa, the stunning waterfront restaurant named after renowned 20s gossip columnist Elsa Maxwell, who hosted the hotel’s spectacular launch party back in 1928.
We were treated to another six-course tasting menu by Paolo Sari, the first 100 per cent organic Michelin-starred chef, made up of local Riviera produce to create a largely healthy (chocolate souffle aside!) and light seasonal menu.
After a relaxing afternoon at the elegant hotel, we got our glad rags on for a night of glitz and glamour and were transported in style by Maserati on a short five-minute drive to the iconic Hôtel de Paris.
A memorable dinner followed at Monaco institution Le Grill, situated on the eighth floor of the Hôtel de Paris Monte Carlo, featuring breathtaking views of the port and a unique, fully retractable roof to allow diners an al fresco experience.
The restaurant, which opened in May 2017, offers largely French and Italian cuisine in an extraordinary setting with an incredible vista of the Mediterranean sea. The famous soufflés are a must!
After dinner, we walked across the picture perfect Place du Casino – complete with more supercars than a showroom – to sample the delights of the iconic Le Casino de Monte Carlo, which dates all the way back to 1863.
The casino was largely considered to be the launch pad that made Monte Carlo the glamorous destination we know today, with luxurious hotels established shortly after – starting with Hôtel de Paris in 1864 – to rival those in Paris, London and New York.
Screaming opulence and decadence in every corner, the Belle Epoque-style casino has been entertaining the international elite for over 150 years and sipping a ‘James Bond’ cocktail at the bar is a must for those keen to soak up the glitz and glamour that has made the city so famous.
Our last morning in Monte Carlo was spent enjoying a spot of relaxation and rejuvenation at the Thermes Marins luxury spa, which offers a wealth of personalised wellness treatments in an exceptional setting with views of super-yachts bobbing on the harbour.
A relatively terrifying, albeit exhilarating, cryotherapy session was followed by a decadent massage bath, an hour-long La Prairie facial and a wellness lunch in L’Hiondelle restaurant, leaving me feeling like a whole new person before we headed back to London.
With Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer’s elegant hotels, Michelin-starred world-class restaurants, lively nightlife and, of course, the iconic casinos that made Monaco famous, the easily accessible coastal city epitomises over-the-top decadence and unabashed luxury.
A whistle-stop weekend that left us feeling utterly spoilt!