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I still find it charming that you can take an Uber into another country. Perhaps even more charming is covering that entire country on foot in less than a day. But then again, everything about Monaco is charming. Although it occupies less than 1 square mile and has just 37,800 inhabitants, it is one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
I was stopping through Monaco on my way to Italy from France. I called an Uber in Nice, and within 35 minutes, I was safely at the front door of Columbus Monte-Carlo, a three-star hotel on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. What is deemed a three-star property in Monaco would likely be a four-star property anywhere else. The view alone is awe-inspiring, overlooking the pink, rocky hillsides dotted with luxury mansions that tumble down to the marina below. That said, the hotel, which opened in 2001, could certainly use a refresher. The gym is small and dark, wear and tear is visible in the rugs, and it has an overall dated feel. Fortunately, an overhaul is in the works.
Columbus Monte-Carlo is in the process of undergoing a full rebranding, including refurbishments throughout, from the facade to the public areas to the guestrooms. It’s a complete redevelopment of service and style, while still catering to the three- and four-star market. Monaco’s financial bracket is no secret, so the hotel is striving to position itself as an option slightly below its competitors in terms of pricing. The renovations have begun, with the hope of being finalized by the beginning of 2018. Other enhancements will include an overhaul of the food and beverage options.
On the ultra luxe end, which is where Monaco tends to fall, French fashion and perfume house Givenchy will open its first spa in Monaco in February at Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo. Designed by Didier Gomez, the new Spa Metropole by Givenchy will join the ranks of Givenchy’s other spas, such as Hotel Sahrai in Fez, Morocco, and Le Mirador Resort & Spa in Chardonne, Switzerland. Few details have been released, but with a reputation like Givenchy’s, this spa is likely to be a five-star destination.
Additionally, Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo is in the throes of an extensive revampment that began in October 2014. The 150-year-old hotel is scheduled to be under renovation until 2018, when it will reemerge with a new garden courtyard, spa and fitness and pool area, as well as new suites, and a new rooftop villa with its own garden and pool. Rooms and suites will be larger, and the number of suites will increase.
An Experience Not to Miss
Finding a superb meal is no challenge along the Mediterranean, and in Monaco, fine dining is overwhelming. But for a truly unique experience, Beefbar Monaco is an absolute must. Vegetarians, look away.
Beefbar was, without a doubt, a high point of my experience in Monaco. The restaurant is set right on Port de Fontvieille. The atmosphere is airy, with open windows that look toward the port. Still, fireplaces, leather-and-wood walls and dim lighting evoke a lounge-like vibe. The menu is pure protein, ranging from a raw bar to broiled cuts of the world’s best beef, including Argentine Angus and Japanese Black Wagyu.
But the highlight of the menu is the section devoted to “Kobe Kreations”: Kobe-beef street snacks from around the world. Each dish is a shareable small plate, and the beef is so juicy that napkins are rendered useless. It’s impossible to try them all, so the ones I highly recommend are the Kobe and Black Angus “doner kebabs” from Turkey, the Kobe crispy tacos from Mexico, and the spiced-meat hummus with Kobe and Black Angus from Lebanon. The restaurant is also known for its variety of mashed potatoes — the jalapeno and smoky barbecue are the ones to beat.
Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo
Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo