Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo, Monaco
Rockstars rub shoulders with royalty at this Belle Epoque hotel in Monte Carlo, offering a lavish spa, Michelin-starred Joël Robuchon restaurant, outdoor pool and welcoming rooms that combine classical style with contemporary sensitivity and comfort. It’s just up from the Casino, off the Boulingrins Gardens.
In the heart of the Monte-Carlo district (remember: Monte-Carlo is one of five districts of Monaco), just up from the Casino and off the Boulingrins Gardens, it could scarcely be more central. Look out for the Arc-de-Triomphe crafted from vegetation, go through into the Tuscan-style courtyard and you’re there.
If the Métropole were to be set to music, it would have to oscillate between a string quartet and Coldplay. Behind the monumental Belle Epoque facade, the place has both pin-sharp classical elegance – and melodious modern rhythm. Designer Jacques Garcia is the bloke you bring in when you want to achieve this mix of the gracefully traditional and the contemporary.
The bar and lounge are a 21st-century take on a 19th-century drawing room. There’s a settee in there big enough to take all the permanent residents of Monaco at one go. The bookcase has real books, the walls have real tapestries and the vases hold flower arrangements the size of small trucks. Yet the whole is bathed in light and space. Plus, of course, there’s the spa, exotic gardens – and outdoor pool heated for off-season dipping. And recently Karl Lagerfeld created Odyssey, a new pool and restaurant complex – available only to hotel guests and members of the spa for lunch, open to all from 6pm. Its emphasis is on light eating.
Exceptional. Effective without being intrusive, friendly without being familiar. The hotel’s Just For You programme lays on only-for-guests outings and experiences. These include following in the footsteps of (Princess) Grace Kelly, driving an F1 car on an F1 track, and the Goldeneye day-long experience, taking in a helicopter flight over the principality, lunch and dinner at the Metropole, a Riviera jaunt in an Aston Martin, couples massage, outing to the casino and much else besides, all accompanied by a butler.
As the rest of the hotel, so the rooms combine classical style – period furniture, bandy-legged chairs, flowing fabrics, art and artefacts – with contemporary sensitivity and comfort. They appear to have come together as rooms do in real noble houses, except they’re a little too well-thought-out for that. And, by heavens they’re welcoming, so much so that you might even forget that you’re paying the equivalent of the average weekly wage for the night in a hotel. For the price of a night in the (admittedly, vast and sumptuous) Carré-d’Or suite, you could buy your daughter a car.
Catering is in the hands of Joël Robuchon, one of France’s best (or, at least, best-known) chefs. His main restaurant continues the retro-modern town-house style. Cooking is modern French of the finest order, with a marked preference for Mediterranean fare, and all worked through the prodigious Robuchon imagination. This doesn’t eschew simplicity – for instance, lamb cutlets with thyme – but does get everything just right. Prices are ambitious, though slightly less so at lunch which can be had from €62 (£55). This is reasonable anywhere for a two-star Michelin restaurant. In Monaco, it’s simply astounding.