Stylist’s picture editor Alessia Armenise travels to Monte-Carlo for a decadent weekend of glamour and fun
Home to the fabulously wealthy with their yachts, racing cars and casinos, Monaco doesn’t make the list of obvious weekend getaways for most. With the largest number of billionaires per capita in the world and the historic star power of Grace Kelly and Jackie Onassis, unless you live a life of extreme luxury, this tiny principality might not be on your radar. Yet, after only a two-hour flight to Nice from London, I am breathing the same rarified air of the French Riviera and gazing over the shimmering Mediterranean without a Ferrari or a Fendi to my name.
Admittedly, I’m not exactly slumming it. Rather than opting for a half-hour drive from Nice airport, we splurge €160 (£141) on a helicopter ride and arrive in Monaco in true super-rich style just seven minutes later – but, if you don’t feel like flying, you can also hire a Blacklane limousine, of course.
I have now been spoilt from queueing for airport taxis forever.
The glamour continues on arrival at the Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo. Situated in the famous Carré d’Or in the lavish neighbourhood of Monte-Carlo (one of the five districts in Monaco) its tucked-away entrance guarantees that you’ll feel like a rock star. Seconds away is the famous Casino. Known as an outstanding example of Belle Époque architecture, it is wonderfully lavish, with grand turrets, marble pillars, lashings of gilt and beautiful fountains. Inside, ignore the slot machines and revel in the chandeliers and lush paintings instead.
The Metropole hotel is home to Yoshi, Joël Robuchon’s first Japanese restaurant, where we have lunch. It only accommodates 40 diners and overlooks a delicately designed Japanese-style garden. The star of the small menu is the marinated grilled black cod, a dish I could eat every day for the rest of my life.
For such a small place, Monaco is full of beautiful landscapes to explore. Fontvieille Park, home of Princess Grace’s Rose Garden with 6,000 rose bushes, gets the award for the most Instagram-worthy spot, while the Jardin Exotique boasts a jaw-dropping view of the marina.
After a day of walking, it’s time for dinner at Maya Jah, a stylish restaurant which looks to India and Morocco for its inspiration. While my aubergine baingan masala was delicious, spice fans should know that this corner of the world doesn’t embrace heat.
When the French Riviera surprises us with a storm the next day, we find shelter in Villa Paloma. It looks like a small French villa with a terrace overlooking the sea, but it’s actually part of Monaco’s New National Museum and a cultural gem where up-and-coming artists and legendary names appear side by side.
Come Saturday night we head to Twiga, the place to be for fun and good food, where the fusion restaurant serves linguine next to sashimi. After dinner, the dance floor fills up and the champagne flows, revealing the sparkling party face of Monaco.
As we collapse into bed at an ungodly hour, I tell myself that whenever I need a temporary hit of luxury, Monaco will be at the top of my list.
Rooms at Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo start from €340 (£300); metropole.com