No surprise that Monaco has some of the glitziest, coolest bars and clubs on the coast. No surprise, either, the principality’s night-life is among the safest in Europe. Given the tiny state’s obsession with security, you are unlikely to be stabbed, glassed or otherwise inconvenienced at five in the morning.
And no surprise, finally, that this can come expensive. Having a night out here can cost as much as if you’d hired Brad Pitt to share it with you. This is no problem if you’ve earlier had a run of luck in the casinos.
If you haven’t, you might like to know (and this is a surprise) that there are more affordable spots, where buying a beer needn’t entail sending the kids out to work. You’re unlikely to bump into Bono or Naomi Campbell – who show up regularly in the ritzier establishments. Then again, you may consider that an advantage.
(Sporting Club, 26 Avenue Princess Grace; + 377 98067068; www.jimmyzmontecarlo.com)
Monaco’s HQ of hipdom for the last 30 years. Found within Le Sporting complex and open from 11pm through dawn, this is the place to spot, say, Lionel Richie, George Benson or Pink. There are both indoor and outdoor bars and dance floor, so you may bop beneath the stars. At a price. Think 30 euros for a first drink.
The Living Room
(7 Avenue des Spélugues; +377 93508031; www.mcpam.com)
A Monaco institution, so consequent difficulties in getting past the man on the door. If you do, you’ll find a sophisticated mix of piano bar and disco, with music fit for older groovers (30s-40s), decent light food and an all-night attitude. Real insiders show up around 3am.
(Place du Casino; +377 98062008; www.montecarloresort.com)
Opened last year, the hip-lit live-music bar is ‘underground’ in location (in the old subterranean store-room of the nearby Café-de-Paris), less so in musical policy. Recent acts have included Mungo Jerry (so that’s where they got to) and a Shadows tribute band. Other nights offer blues and soul. Atmosphere is lively and intimate and drinks, for Monaco, are reasonable. A glass of wine can be had for 10 euros. From March 24, there’ll be happy-hour half-price policy from 7pm to 8.30pm.
Brasserie de Monaco
(36 Route de la Piscine; +377 97985120; www.brasseriedemonaco)
A nest of new establishments has recently opened in disused premises right on Monaco’s main port. The Brasserie brews its own, very good organic beer on site – you can see the shiny vats – and pulls off the difficult trick of being both a beer bar and also lounge-bar cool. There’s a great all-year terrace overlooking the yachts and, in the early evening anyway, a ‘local’ feel. Could be something to do with the prices. Happy hour (5-8pm) beers are from two euros and only double that afterwards. In Monaco, this rates as a steal.
(Route de la Piscine; +377 93300909; www.black-legend.com)
Another port-side newcomer, from the good people behind the ultra-exclusive Les Caves du Roy in St Tropez. They’ve gone for a 1970s black music approach – half-Tamla, half-New York – which works well, even if you can’t remember the Four Tops. The dance-floor’s a bit small but the black-brown leather armchairs are almost too comfortable and the US-Mediterranean food is both good and not horribly over-priced.
(Fairmont Hotel, 12 Avenue des Spélugues; +377 93506500; www.lhorzonmontecarlo.com)
Up to the hotel’s seventh floor and out on to what really is like the deck of the classier sort of cruise-ship. Sit inside or outside for the most sumptuous views over the principality and the sea. Food ranges from a club sandwich at 19 euros to John Dory at 55 euros. Or you might simply sit and sip Champagne and decide you really don’t need to move ever again.
Monte Carlo Bar
(1 Avenue Prince Pierre)
You’ll not find this place covered in many hotspot guides. Well away from the trendy zones, it’s a regular, unfussy bar-brasserie – with a dish of the day at 9.50 euros. I mention it because it’s friendly and stays open all night. If you want a drink or a bite to eat in the early hours and don’t like nightclub prices, this is the spot.