Boutique hotel ideal for both a design-student daughter and her diplomat dad.
Monaco’s original boutique hotel has now settled to become a classic of the genre. It wins through warmth and restraint with, glory be, none of that “we’re-hipper-than-our-customers” exclusivity which has me reaching for an axe.
This wouldn’t do at the Columbus, which is a calm spot. It slots into a quiet, curvy street in Fontvieille, the 100-acre district gained from the sea in Prince Rainier’s most ambitious land reclamation project.
Though 'land reclamation' doesn't sound terribly cool, Fontvieille is becoming a gently hip district, with bars and restaurants - especially round the new port - and a leafy serenity not general elsewhere in the principality.
Young, sleek and suave
Surrounded by residences, the Columbus opens onto parkland, notably the lovely Princess Grace Rose Garden. Inside, the lines are clean, space abundant and style unforced. There's something immediately appealing about the lobby and lounge - with their fawn and brown settees, bookshelves and vast pots of greenery - even if you're not young, svelte and suave. If you are ... well, welcome to your world.
Upstairs, bedrooms of dark wood furniture are lightened with greys and beige, and warm ethnic linen. They’d suit both a design-student daughter and her diplomat dad.
Most of the doubles have balconies, as do all of the suites - and all have room enough for anything you might want to do in a bedroom, within the usual bounds of reason and decency.
These are, in short, very inviting rooms which feel just right - and that's before you've got to the fig-scented toiletries. (Prior to my visit here, I wasn't aware that figs had scents, but apparently they do - and very attractive they are, too.)
Downstairs there's a cracking contemporary cocktail bar, where you may sip the Columbus' own Princess Grace cocktail. This comprises champagne, rose liqueur and candied rose petals - which is, perhaps, flirting with an excess of girliness. The Princess, after all, was not only beautiful but also formidable. But I'm in no position to judge. I had a scotch.
From there, you might sashay to the brasserie - where, among the gambas and risottos, they do a mean veal curry and what they claim to be the Riviera's best burger. As perhaps it should be, for €23.
There is a gym, and an outdoor pool - though it's shared, which might be considered a drawback by some. In general, though, the Columbus is cool, fun and relaxing. But don’t take my word for it. In the bar not too long ago, I bumped into a young professional from London and his arrestingly attractive girlfriend. “We didn’t want all that Monaco chintz,” he said. “We wanted something cool. We wanted London-by-the-Sea. That’s why we’re happy here.”
I think I know what he meant. At any event, that makes three of us who like the place. And, for these standards in Monaco, the Columbus really isn't too horribly expensive. As you can tell by the award, I rate it the best value-for-money of hotels I know in the principality.
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