Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo - it's right in the zone
The Hotel Metropole in Monte-Carlo is a beautiful and delicious surprise.
Perhaps we are becoming a little shy of stuffy formality, of tired and over-glitzed lobbies, of marble floors beneath glaring chandeliers, instead we are looking for a new renaissance in five star luxury hotels. It is here that you just might experience it with a touch of High Renaissance revival in the opulent flow of the glorious atrium. This bijou grand-luxe-gem gives Monte Carlo the face-lift it needed, without the knife, but with all the benefits. The French designer, Jacques Garcia of Hotel Costes fame, who has a brilliant eye for combining contemporary elegance with creature comforts, oversaw this refreshing refurbishment.
A trip to the Cote d'Azur is not complete without a stay in the ultimate playground of the R&F: Monte-Carlo. It's not a picturesque city, though it has some classically stunning architecture, along with a wealth of flourishingly exotic gardens, manicured to peak condition, whatever the time of year, particularly in May when the Grand Prix circuit comes to town (we still have a handful of rooms and suites available for 3 or 4 nights stays from May 21st, please see details below). High-rise apartment buildings became a necessary addition in order to pack in the wealth that gravitated to this glittering tax haven, snuggled attractively between the Maritime Alps and the Mediterranean Sea: the setting is wonderful.
The world's most celebrated Casino, designed in 1878, is perhaps Monte-Carlo's trump card, surrounded by fleets of opulent cars, while the square-shaped port, a short walk below, is so flash that it is quite simply, another world. All this shameless display of plutocracy is a few steps from what is now the jewel in Monaco's luxury hotel crown: The Hotel Metropole. We stayed here in early March in order to satiate our mini Corniches-indulgence. This it did, in rosy abundance.
We arrived to a cornucopia of exquisite bi-coloured candy pink and cream roses: not just one mega-urn full, an entire hotel-full! These roses set the scene for us, and I'm sure for many other satisfied guests, throughout our deliciously rubescent stay. The enticing interpretation of seasonal 'themes' changes with the solar covenant, the star of which governs the principality with more hours of sunshine than almost anywhere else in Europe.
The roses, for now, have been transformed into a cultural celebration of 'arty spring' combining a twin-colour scheme of aniseed green with mauve. This dynamic duo will spread its intriguing splendour, like the roses did, throughout the public spaces, including the JoŽl Robuchon Restaurant, the Bar, the Spa and the boudoirs. It is undoubtedly the most refreshing idea I have come across and it is orchestrated with immense style and skill under the creative eye of interior designer and Artistic Director, Maud Lesur.
The hotel is superbly located near to the Casino and it also sits above the chicest shopping mall in Monaco. This means that you can walk out of the hotel, past the exquisite plethora of flora, through the privet arched entrance, turn right then down the escalator to boutique Babylon; including coiffure talents with spaces between the R&F: a five-minute walk to perfect hair.
Shop, drop your bags... and then enter the glorious Metropole ESPA spa. You could genuinely just 'chill-out' here for a few days before taking in the beauteous 'bling'.
Being seven months pregnant, I opted for the just shy of 200 euros total pre-natal indulgence. The treatment rooms are amazing with the entire spa beguilingly designed in order to maximise on personal privacy, while still providing that ethereal 'other world' experience. The therapists are highly trained and totally skilled in the realms of alternative treatments and, with a body carefully worked over using gallons of ESPA products, the relaxation room transported me to the very best of Thailand, that part of the world that excels in all things 'spa-luscious'. There is something here for everyone.
A few steps up from holistic goodness, the 'freak-out' pool area; with groovy bar, poolside teak-deck dining, palms, vines and box hedging, was having its yearly 'facial', and looked set to shimmer with alluring intensity from April onwards. Master chef, JoŽl Robuchon, has created inspired menus, for both Spa junkies and poolside-dreamers. Why go to the beach? This hotel seems to have it all as an Utopian urban retreat.
The cosy and definitely luxe 'Deluxe Junior Suite...'
What seemed to set this comfortably coordinated, classically decorated, suite apart from most was the extraordinarily large and lavish bathroom. In fact, the bath was so large that it took almost an entire bottle of the reviving ESPA moisturising bath remedy in one fill, while the shower room was the size of most people's generous bathrooms. With a bottle of MoŽt chilling beside a vase of those roses and a silver platter of petit fours (including a lemon tart that knows no superior) we felt seriously spoilt and once we stepped out onto our small balcony with views across to the casino in front of a blazing spring sunset, we knew that Monte-Carlo was a necessary pit-stop in our Cote d'Azur sejourn... What's more I haven't even got to the greatest course of all - the delectable cuisine.
JoŽl Robuchon and Yoshi - Divine dining
One could argue that the real 'stars' shine in Monte-Carlo's celebrated kitchens. It really is a cosmic culinary fest here, making The Hotel Metropole, with its two Michelin stars at JoŽl Robuchon and the recently opened Yoshi, a Japanese Restaurant worth helicoptering-in-for, a tough act to follow.
We were lucky to get a table at JR that night. This restaurant buzzes with a fizz that is the result of superb food and an incredible atmosphere, enhanced by the open-plan style of super-slick 'kitchen-on-view' with a service as effervescent as the vintage Krug. A meal here is not to be rushed, instead you are invited and encouraged to taste many small courses, tapas style, of the most delectable and innovative creations. Choosing is the hard part, so for some the 'Discovery Menu' at 180 Euros per head for a mini feast of nine sensational dishes, makes your mind up for you.
We opted for several plates from the ŗ la carte 'small portions to discover and taste' menu: Iberian Ham, pricelessly aged, on full-leg display and carefully sliced in view, together with diced tomato on bruschetta; crab two ways either in a light crustacean sauce with Swiss chard or as King Crab stuffed with a medley of sweetly spiced, immaculately diced vegetables; fresh artichoke with squid, thyme and chorizo, a dreamy combination; John Dory as you've never had before... and so it continues up and up to the succulent young rock lobster and ultimately to the soft boiled egg coated in light and crispy breadcrumbs then smothered in a sea of caviar. The latter two will set you back but it's all there if you want it. Dining here epitomises la dolce vita - the namesake of my dessert - drop-dead delicious praline crunch with mascarpone sorbet. An enzyme engaging three hours!
As if this were not enough we then had the pleasure the following day of lunch at JoŽl Robuchon's recently opened Japanese restaurant, Yoshi. If this place doesn't become the 'Nobu' of the Cote d'Azur I will be amazed. The room is fabulously proportioned with wall-side leather banquettes in a burnt orange with luminous jade green chairs matching a startlingly verdant Japanese garden beyond the walls of glass. It is a stunning room. The food is equally amazing - some of the most exquisitely presented and most palate-pleasing Japanese fare we have yet enjoyed. This addition, this alternative cuisine style and menu, makes this luxury hotel a serious contender for 'most delectable stay in Monaco'.
I feel that so much thought, so much customer care, so much creative input into fulfilling the senses, has been invested in the revamped Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo that it has paid off with extraordinary dividends. This is the luxury hotel revival we were looking for.