Ann Marie McQueen checks into the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo in Monaco.
Hotel Insider: Hotel Hermitage, Monte Carlo, Monaco
The impressive main entrance to Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo signals a stay steeped in luxury and classic, old-world Monaco appeal. If the attentive, tuxedo-wearing doorman, jutting canopy of iron spikes and palace-style facade weren’t an indication, the hotel boasts a Salvatore Ferragamo and Prada men’s shop next to its revolving door. The staff are warm, check-in is painless, luggage transferred quickly – and I’m soon showed to and around my room.
The hotel fronts onto the quaint Square Beaumarchais: turn right and it’s a short walk downhill to the picturesque harbour. Go left to Opera Gallery and a maze of streets featuring eclectic cafes and shops. Walking straight towards shopping and dining in and around Place du Casino – the heart of Monte Carlo – takes mere minutes.
My exclusive sea-view room is decorated in soothing hues of light purple, grey and cream, with delightful touches: a tall vase with a dozen white roses, lamps accented with small pewter birds and an incredible view. The bed is impeccable (downy and firm at the same time) and the halls are silent. But it’s the iconic view of white yachts parked in the harbour, jagged cliffs and the wide royal-blue waters of the Mediterranean that really elevate my stay.
Monte Carlo is luxury and wealth personified. Middle Eastern guests are second in popularity only to Russians, and people-watching is almost a sport. One afternoon, the pop star Stromae is parked for an interview in one of the Hermitage’s many quaint seating areas. Mariah Carey, in town for the World Music Awards, draws a small crowd of fans outside the second entrance.
Fit to cater to the wildest demands of both the wealthy and the famous. Unlike five-star hotels in the UAE, where a stay is usually punctuated by interruptions, the staff manage to be attentive and unobtrusive – stealthy, even. A dress that I need pressed? Slipped back into my wardrobe when I’m out. The espresso that I order before turning on the hair dryer? Waiting when I’m finished. The hotel can provide many special items and services – including a halal menu – with just a few days’ notice.
I’m obsessed with the hotel breakfast, which includes giant bowls full of succulent berries, eggs and waffles on order, miso soup, dim sum and mounds of smoked salmon with herbed cream. Lunch on the sea-view balcony of Le Vistamar is an event. As with most meals in Monte Carlo, the chef Joël Garault offers a predominantly seafood menu. It’s the made-in-Monaco appetiser barbajuan that I’m still longing for: simple, tasty triangles packed with Swiss chard, garlic, onion and Parmesan.
The Winter Garden, under a delicate stained-glass cupola designed by Gustave Eiffel. Also, the hotel’s parent company owns much of what’s hot in the area: Opéra de Monte-Carlo, the iconic Hôtel de Paris, the famous nightclub Jimmy*z and the original Monte-Carlo Beach Club. There are free shuttles between all for guests, who need only swipe their room key to pay for food and services.
Having to order room service every time I want a tea or an espresso.
A beautiful piece of Monaco history – the stay is stellar.
The bottom line
An exclusive sea view room costs from €672 (Dh3,348) per night, excluding breakfast (€37 [Dh184] continental or €41 [Dh204] buffet) and including taxes. Diamond suites cost from €3,163 (Dh15,757) per night. Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, Square Beaumarchais, Monaco (www.hotelhermitagemontecarlo.com; 00377 98 06 40 00).
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