Why should I go now?
Speak to Monaco residents and they may tell you that August isn’t the ideal time to visit their fairytale territory: there are too many tourists, apparently. And yet we at LUX have quite a few Monaco-based friends who are staying put in the principality this month, and the overwhelming reason is the Monte Carlo Bay hotel.
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To understand its unique appeal, you need to be a little familiar with the rest of the hotel offerings on the Cote d’Azur. Monte Carlo itself has the Hermitage and the Metropole, beautiful, formal palaces with limited outdoor areas that somehow make them better suited to a romantic autumn break than a summer holiday. Down the coast, there are other palace hotels, some of them with big outdoor pools; but there is nothing like the Monte Carlo Bay.
Arrive at the grand main entrance (you will likely be in a short queue of special edition Ferraris, convertible Rolls Royces, and souped-up Lamborghinis) walk through the high-ceilinged foyer and onto the terrace and you could be in a resort hotel in Asia; below you other terraces gleam invitingly, but the main attractions are, cleverly, screened out of sight.
What’s the lowdown?
The Monte Carlo Bay is a rare hotel that, if anything, is too modest about itself. This is a full-on resort, built on a semicircle of land on Monaco’s seafront, extending out into the Mediterranean, with a complex of swimming pools, some of them sand-bottomed, extending under a maze of bridges and terraces towards the sea. Cafes and bars and speciality ice cream stalls pop up everywhere you turn, and the activity doesn’t stop at the seafront: you can swim in a specially cordoned-off area of the sea, 50 metres long, overseen by lifeguards and protected from jellyfish by a net. We tried parasailing and waterskiing, the former an absolutely spectacular way to experience the mountainous coastline surrounding the principality. And this being Monaco, the expertise of the instruction was unparalleled: our parasailing captain had been the French national champion.
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In the unlikely instance of the weather taking a turn for the worse, there is also a huge indoor pool and hydrotherapy area, itself connected to yet another outdoor pool. The design of the hotel means that all these extensive pool and terrace areas are invisible either from the street, or even from the hotel’s own restaurant terrace.
The Bay has its own Michelin-starred restaurant, Blue Bay, but we enjoyed our dinners from the expertly curated and created international menu (broken down by region) out on the terrace at L’Orange Verte, with its view over to the sea. The chicken satay and crudités plate was a perfectly summery compliment to a glass of Provencal rosé.
The Monte Carlo Bay is a four star hotel, rather than a five star, although you wouldn’t believe it from the facilities or the breakfast buffet, which offers everything from miso soup to a proper salad selection, a plethora of hot food, and two rows of every kind of fresh bread for toasting. The rooms reflect the fact that it’s a comfortable, but not a luxury, offering: stone floors without carpets, functional bathrooms of a decent size with excellent products, all without the extra fripperies of a luxury hotel, which felt unnecessary in the circumstances. Our room had a big balcony with a view over legendary nightclub Jimmy’z, just across the way, and to the sea and the palace of Monaco, on the famous rock across the bay.
It’s worth paying the difference to get a sea view room; the view on the other side (of buildings) is less up-lifting.
Rates: From €182.70 ( approx. $200/ £150)
To book your stay visit: montecarlobay.com