Retro-elegance in an oasis of privilege: if it's good enough for Britney and Sting ...
One of Monte Carlo’s stately stand-out spots, recently re-done in sumptuous retro-chic. If you’ve got the money, then they’ve got the class, wrap-around comfort and blinding service standards.
You can tell you're arriving somewhere special as you turn in off the avenue, under a sort of Arc-de-Triomphe covered in box-wood - and into the courtyard. What with the cypress trees and monumental façade, it seems vaguely, but grandly, Tuscan.
Then you are ushered into an oasis of privilege at once splendid, cosy and most friendly. (The guy on Reception welcomed me by name before I'd told him who I was. I never did work out how he managed that.)
Difficult, though, to describe exactly the hotel style, so I’m going for “funky Second Empire”. Designer Jacques Garcia has combined town-house elegance – cushions, carved wood panelling, portraits, button armchairs – with a contemporary feel for space, light and even music. They hired what is apparently known as an 'Ambience Expert' to get the sound design right - and it appears to have worked. From the 1950s through to the present day, it all warbles most agreeably.
Bar and lounge are a 21st-century take on a 19th-century drawing room, and terribly difficult to leave. There are flowers in great vases, marble by the acre, chandeliers, real books in the bookcases and a sofa long enough to accommodate all that's left of the French nobility. Plus that expert ambience, of course.
Light and bright
Highly-designed bedrooms appear not to have been designed at all but to have evolved to a point where flowery fabrics, padded bendy-leg chairs and other classic furniture are as cool as you like. Yet space and deft use of rich colours render them light and bright. After the recent epidemic of oat-coloured minimalism in top-class hotels, such restrained sumptuousness is a blessèd relief.
These are, in short, rooms to civilise the most obnoxious rich kid. Were he to spend a night in the vast Carré-d'Or suite - with its period portraits, bookshelves and terrace the size of Greater London - he'd emerge a changed man. A poorer one too, of course, to the tune of €9000.
Reconnect with your senses
Should these most relaxing of surroundings nevertheless still leave you stressed, there’s a bells-and-whistles ESPA spa where you may "reconnect with your senses" - always assuming, of course, that you've lost touch with them in the first place. The outdoor pool, heated for off-season dipping, is also rather reposeful. Surrounded by some pretty exotic gardens, it once again suggests Tuscany. Difficult to remember as you swim, or sip on a lounger, that you're bang in the middle of down-town Monte Carlo.
Catering is in the hands of Joël Robuchon, France’s second-most famous chef. To the Michelin two-starred gastronomic restaurant, he has recently added an equally qualitative Japanese eatery. In both you may eat lunch for a surprisingly reasonable €29. Dinner is a more financially challengeing matter.
Surveying his handiwork at the Métropole, designer Jacques Garcia said: “This is a place where rock stars can comfortably mix with royalty: thre are no social barriers.” This is a wonderfully Monégasque take on the extent of the social spectrum. But don’t worry: it 's ideal the rest of us, too. If we’ve saved up enough.
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