How to Live it up Luxuriously in Monaco

A city for the Bold, the Beautiful and the Ballers
By Roshni Mulchandani

The name’s Bond…James Bond. There’s a reason why that particular 007 line is still the most memorable from the Bond series. In a popular high-stakes casino, he uttered those famous words with such finesse that we couldn’t help but mimic it ourselves. Finesse, along with money, status and good looks are all qualities that Bond shares with most residents of Monaco, the lavish place where that very scene was filmed…and home to one of the most luxurious vacation spots in the world.

Although Monaco is one of the smallest countries in world, it’s populated with the maximum number of millionaires per capita worldwide. Housed with some of the most exclusive and exquisite casinos in the world, Monaco promises to help you tap into your inner Bond as you descend on the independent state that faces the incredible Mediterranean Sea, and is surrounded by beautiful French cities like Nice and Cannes. But it’s not just the world-class views, slot machines and roulette tables that make Monaco a European “must visit.” From race car driving to teeing off at golf ranges—which are visited daily by Rolex wearing, Porsche riding residents who stroll around in designer wear—Monaco has more than just sights to see and things to do. So here comes the 411 on how the James Bond in you can get down and dirty in the très beau Monaco.
Monaco hotels alone are beyond spectacular. Influenced naturally by French culture, most of the hotels include facilities that treat you like royalty. Among many popular hotels that have been graced by rock stars, celebrities and big shots alike is Hôtel de Paris, which plays host to a league of designer stores and fancy restaurants decorated by top local interior stylists. If you have some cash to spare, ask for the Carte d’Or card which will grant you instant access to the high-roller casinos and other attractions all over Monaco. Most hotels have incredible views which overlook the city, entrée to the private spas and exotic pools which are adorned by local beauties.

The spectacular hotels in Monaco offer fabulous packages, which are surely fitting to your vacation needs. The “Race and Thrills” package offered by the Hotel Metropole will fulfill your desire to become the next Formula 1 driver and champion Michael Schumacher. Elite instructors are available to give you lessons after you pick your favorite race car (choose from BMW, Porsche and Ferrari, among others) and zoom around the Monaco Grand Prix F1 track in true racing tradition. What’s the price tag on making this dream come true? Just a whopping $5,490. Looking for a more discounted way to commit some debauchery? The “Royal Golf” package offered by the exclusive Von Hagge Hotel is bound to keep you spellbound as you hit birdies around at the course of the Rivera. The $1,300+ package also comes with club rental and your very own caddy to carry around your equipment. The beautiful landscape may divert your attention though, so remember to keep your eye on the ball and watch where you swing.

Just when you think you’ve fallen in love with the glitz and glam of Monaco, there are still plenty more surprises left. A trip to Larvatto Beach is essential to your stay in the beautiful city. The well-funded government takes great pride in its locales and replaces the beach sand regularly keeping it smooth, sanitized and cigarette free. Aside from the pristine white sand and clear Mediterranean water, the beautiful and laissez-faire local ladies believe less is more and wear their designer swim wear minus the bikini tops as they roam the beaches. Yachts are also available at your disposal, already tricked out with the latest Bond-style gadgets like a built in navigation with not one, but four engines, allowing you to reach top speeds—and if you’re willing to pay the price, you can cruise around accompanied by some of the hottest women within a 10 mile radius a la Jay-Z’s video “Show Me What You Got.” With the European sun giving you an extra golden tan, the only necessary addition to completing your day would be a relaxing cocktail.
After you’ve soaked up some sun, hit the high-end stores for some retail therapy. Most of the stores are designer shops that pamper you with champagne and hors d’oeuvres to increase your appetite for shopping as you enter their crystal-clear glass doors. David Beckham is often seen walking the narrow lanes of Allée Serge Diaghilev, and is still somehow unable to buy enough to fit his branded closet. Monaco could definitely be considered a fashion capital, as the locals wear the latest in foot and body wear— Chanel, Hermès and Gucci are all household names. Your plastic will also come in handy while you take a quick pit stop at the Louis Vuitton café and sip cappuccinos in its popular LV logo mugs. While you may not be able to shop until you drop, you may bump into a few movie stars or popular athletes and convince them to click a few pictures as a souvenir instead.

Eating around the city is worth every (expensive) dollar you pay for it. The local favorite is caviar, which is caught fresh daily from the nearby sea. Be ready to pay more than a pretty penny for those black pearls, especially since demand far exceeds the supply (which may be because it’s a popular pick with crackers and as a part of the locals’ facial spa regime). With several varieties of caviar available in the area, it should be no surprise to you when your waiter offers an extensive caviar menu ranging in price and taste. Of course, no meal in Monaco would be complete without the usual French dishes including foie gras and an endless selection of wine.
In addition to the luxurious cuisine, the nightlife has something for everyone in Monaco. You can choose to gamble or dance until the sun comes up with the social elite. The casinos all over the city are equipped with up-to-date slot machines for the not so daring and the high-rolling blackjack and craps tables for the courageous. If you’re up for learning a new hand, take a try at a local game of chemin de fer which is similar to baccarat, only uses more color combinations and cards, or trente et quarante, which is a variation of the local blackjack. Be warned, however: The stakes are higher and it’s far more difficult to achieve a 30 and 40 (with the least number of cards being the goal) instead of 21. The dealers are more than willing to teach you, as long as you have a few (or more) dollars to thank them with. Remember to wear your dinner jacket as dress code is strictly enforced and you wouldn’t want to appear inadequately dressed to the women on the floor, would you? The nightclubs are as big as they get and the music ranges from local French contemporary to American hip-hop and even some old school Elvis if you’re in the mood. For a more intimate experience, head on over to the local monarchy’s Grimaldi yacht which sails the seas with a private deejay and bartender to serve you drinks under the starry sky—mixing cocktails with royalty, just how how it should be done…Monaco style.

For some daytime activities, visit the local museum, art galleries or the Grimaldi Palace (watching the changing of guards will remind you of Buckingham Palace) and if you have some spare time in the evenings, catch an opera or ballet to appease your cultured side. Monaco also has a variety of gardens inspired from different cultures worldwide. The Japanese tea garden displays a magnificent waterfall which has been blessed by a Japanese Shinto. Sampling Japanese tea has never been as soothing with assortments available to cater to your individual taste. Moving on westward, the city also has a few British high tea gardens too, with earl teas and scones to savor over. Churches are extremely popular too and display exquisite architecture by local artists. The history behind these churches and chapels speaks volumes about Monaco’s cultural roots and the struggles it has encountered. Monaco is not just about the nightlife, there’s plenty more sightseeing that’s worth seeing in mid-day sunshine.
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s so much to do in what’s probably going to be so little time (and so little moolah for us average folk). Well, shot taking with the A-listers doesn’t come cheap and neither do the multi-hundred thread count bed sheets you’ll be resting on, but it’s not only the rich and famous who decide to holiday and descend on Monaco. As long as you’re carrying your MasterCard and some dinero, the city will more than welcome you. The city is for all—ranging from the history buff to the high roller casino lovers. No one will be able to point fingers and say all you did was party and gamble; after all you did visit the galleries and museums, right? It’s okay, we promise we won’t tell.

Edited by Maya Champaneri

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