We have traveled the world, but Monaco keeps pulling my family and me back. Why?
Monaco is only a short flight from London. BA flies London to Nice in less than 2 hours (as does Easyjet). Once in Monaco, hop in a helicopter from the airport for €230 EUR o/w, the nearest taxi (no need to book hotel transfers, all the taxis have leather interior and are immaculate) for €100 EUR, transfer time is usually than 40 minutes. Alternatively, the 110 bus will shuttle you directly there for around €20 EUR per person and will drop you at your hotel. You can train it, and the station in Monaco is a feat of engineering being a huge tunnel exploded out of the solid rock and accessed by numerous small tunnels, but the initial shuttle from Nice airport to the nearest station Saint-Augustin, is irregular and a pain, its too far to walk, and when you arrive you still need to get to your hotel from the station.
Life does not get more glamorous. Monaco is one of the few places in the world where you can glam up in the latest dress or fur, handbag, and Louboutins and not look overdressed. Everybody does it. In fact, in the evening, once the day-trippers have left, you will stand out if you haven’t made an effort. Women are beautiful. Men are dapper (if a little older in many cases). Monaco is also statistically one of the safest places in the world. As local resident Shirley Bassey said, “It’s the only place I know in the world where you can wear jewelry and feel safe”.
Proximity to everything is a huge plus here. You can literally walk everywhere in Monte-Carlo, and with the help of a warren of escalators and a network of underground lifts, you don’t even need to break into a sweat traversing up and down to the Casino.
There is an almost unlimited choice of restaurants from the cheap pizzas down by the marinas and up in the old town, to the relaxed Michelin Joël Robuchon at the Hôtel Metropole Monte-Carlo or the formal a 3 starred Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse – a favorite of Prince Albert of Monaco.
Whatever time of year, Monaco is lively. There is always a billionaire’s superyacht or cruise ship docking, a fortunate tax-avoiding celebrity having a beer in a bar, plus there are numerous fairs, exhibitions, shows, motor races, sports events, and even circuses going on. You can’t get bored. If you like designer goods, this is the cheapest place I have found to buy my Louboutins and other designer gear as Monaco is tax-free, and there is a great range of designer shops.
When considering the weather, July and August – Hot, 30?C + and during the day the town is jam-packed with sweaty tourists. This is the time of year to enjoy lazing by the pool at the Monte-Carlo Bay at a price, or at the slightly less opulent and less expensive Fairmont Monte-Carlo. May, June, September are the best time to visit, as it is still warm enough to laze by outdoor pools but not sweltering. October-April is when Monaco loses the touristy feeling, and you get to live more like a “local”. Even in the winter, when the sun comes out, you can sit outside Cafe de Paris in a T-shirt with a beer, and in the evening, sit outside under a heater lamp. The bar at the Hotel Metropole is THE place to drink this time of year, and Christmas my absolute favorite time to visit out of season. The decorations are magical, click here to see my Christmas and Christmas tree reviews.
What Monaco doesn’t have is a nice beach, the local beach is poor, and the “sand” resembles cat litter and is nasty and dusty. Your main option is the beautiful lagoon at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort – one of our favorites.
Choose your hotel in Monaco wisely. The Fairmont Monte-Carlo is less expensive and has fabulous views, but it doesn’t have an indoor pool, and it’s rooftop Horizon restaurant, which I love, closes in the Winter. The Monte-Carlo Bay is excellent value out of season and has an indoor pool, which is a little on the chilly side, but it is a 15 minutes walk into the center. The Metropole has a fantastic and warm Karl Lagerfeld warm indoor pool, the best bar in your foyer, and year-round magical interior decoration, but the rooms can be a little dark, and the balconies are only Romeo and Juliette.
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