The Perfect Port-side Palace
Just how swish can a palace by a port get? It has the unmistakeable style of the best of the sixties combined with a priceless view. Here, super yachts compete with super liners and all this rivalry was laid out an anchor's throw from our uber-chic, sun-filled suite. I surrendered. Gone was the past, and it was time to live the life of Posh or Mr Craig and boot it up to the Casino to win enough loot to shop at the nearby designer boutiques. Neither happened, but it just might for you.
The hotel does not only face the port in all its palatial glory, it also looks across to the Royal Palace, or the Grimaldi Household, on the other side.
The Port Palace stands out in the hotel crowd, partly because of its blue tinged windows, which, though possibly a bold move at the time, are very well matched with the port and infinite blue sky. There is an understated sophistication here, which, in this part of the world, is pleasantly refreshing.
Our Swish Suite
This petit-luxe gem is a contemporary hotel but, needless to say you, are constantly reminded of the yesteryear of decades past. This, in part, is due to the fantastic selection of Getty-owned black and white photographic portraits of stunning Hollywood greats, from both behind and in front of the camera. Directors from Kubrick to Lean, and stars from Bardot to Gardner, are hung in most public spaces to striking effect. The lighting is ingeniously subtle and the furniture, mostly upholstered in cream leather with varnished teak, is both comfortable and suitably maritime-modern. Our suite was on the floor with the 'sun theme' and was a combination of burnt tangerine and cream leather with shot silk curtains in candy stripes. These luxuriously interlined drapes surrounded two bay windows, one in the sitting room and one in the bedroom, which looked onto the squillion dollar port parade. Our flat screen was placed into our leather upholstered wall in front of our outsized bed which, in all honesty, had some of the most divine bedding (including soft down pillows) that we have ever slept on. The bathroom, the size of lesser suites, had an incredible sauna/steam room with matching tangerine sarongs on the wooden slatted bench. Champagne and an enormous fruit bowl were facing the port from our sitting room, and the phone was flashing on messages from the in-house Kenso stocked "Fleur de Peau" spa downstairs. It was time to smarten up my act.
Monte Carlo and its Casino are so closely associated that it is difficult to say which was created first. However, until circa 1860, it was little more than a rocky plateau with roaming goats, and games of chance were the pastimes of disillusioned aristocrats. Then Monsieur Blanc arrived and, upon the request of the princes of the Principality of Monaco, created the famous 'Societe des Bains de Mer and the 'Cercle des Estrangers'. From hereon in, the Rock has attracted several serious 'rocks' and the roulette wheel has remained in motion ever since. I doubt there is anywhere in the world where you could witness such an outrageous display of auto- indulgence as outside the Royal Casino, including the Splendido in Portofino.
Dining In and Out
In a place like Monte Carlo it really is necessary to do both. The Restaurant Mandarine at the Port Palace has an amazing terrace looking over the port and, dining here anytime, is wonderful for soaking up the atmosphere. The food is light with a fresh sushi-inspired menu so that if, like us, you had indulged in a starry lunch, then you can enjoy the spoils from the sea offered with a freshness and twist of the Orient.
Farther up, much farther up in fact, is the Café de Paris at the top of the Hotel de Paris. We had a sensational meal here: so much truffle that it collapsed my soufflé but I wasn't complaining. The service was extremely enjoyable and made it an event beyond fabulous dining. Monte Carlo is just that, an event, a spectacular spectacle of wealth, and the Port Palace is a very obvious and stylish place to stay.