Hôtel Hermitage Monte Carlo, Monaco
This Belle Epoque palace, the discreet sibling to neighbouring Hôtel de Paris, is a favourite for jetsetting cognoscenti and celebrities pretending to stay under the radar. A line of Lamborghinis and Bentleys greet you at the entrance, but what else would you expect in Monte-Carlo?
Bang in the middle of the principality’s prestigious Carré d’Or district and a one-minute walk from the main square with its casino, opera, restaurants and designer shops. The hotel has the advantage of a quiet garden square on one side, while the other side gazes over the Mediterranean port littered with super yachts towards the rock topped with the Prince’s medieval castle.
Somehow this hotel pulls off the opulence of a 19th-century palace (think gold leaf and marble pillars) with the friendly convenience of a resort hotel. Belle Epoque details abound such as marble-topped commodes, ornate mantle clocks and decorative urns. Wow factors include the stained-glass atrium and the glass-fronted spa.
Service is courteous and competent. Expect female staff adorned with silk neck scarves and waistcoated bellboys.
Down a secret underground passage, the thermal spa impresses with treatments that are so state-of-the-art that you might not have heard of them – if in doubt just lie on the sundeck admiring the harbour views. A free shuttle will also whisk you to a private beach club with water sports. Guests get a card to charge any Monte-Carlo SBM resort facilities straight to the hotel bill, as well as 50 per cent off Monte-Carlo golf and tennis club fees.
Bedrooms features Louis XV-style chairs and colourful wallpaper panels. Marbled bathrooms contain monogrammed towels and generous-sized bathroom products by the legendary Parisian perfume maker Francis Kurkdjian.
Superior Queen rooms are bijou or squeezed – depending upon your perspective. Superior King Rooms have more space, and Deluxe Garden View with Terrace Rooms are more than double the size, so it’s worth an upgrade if budget allows. The best-value rooms in the hotel are the Deluxe Sea View Rooms, which have gorgeous views, but you’ll have to book well in advance.
The Michelin-starred Vistamar is the place in Monte-Carlo to gorge on fish and seafood. The interior is boringly white and beige – maybe so that there’s nothing to take your eyes away from the glorious food. A better idea is to book a table on the outdoor terrace with its panoramic sea view.
Next door, the cosy Crystal Bar is the most relaxed place in the hotel to grab an evening snack: everything from hamburgers to caviar. There are plenty of prestige wines and vintage champagne by the glass to choose from, and cigar smokers are welcome on the heated outdoor terrace. Awkwardly off the main reception area, Le Limùn serves all-day-long snacks, but the best thing here is the afternoon tea. Those looking for a holiday detox will like the low-calorie, gluten-free and vegan options at L’Hirondelle spa restaurant.
Lots of pastries and fresh fruit are available at the buffet breakfast (€42/£36 per person). The boiled eggs even come with their own