Ideally located on Casino Square, this rococo-style landmark dates back to 1864 and is renowned for its extravagance. Multimillion-dollar renovations began in 2014, but the hotel is still open with a reduced number of rooms, and renovations are slated for completion in 2018. The historic property was once the haunt of crowned heads, statesmen, artists, and movie stars from Erroll Flynn to Winston Churchill. The current spruce-up will conserve the most important architecture but transform the much-needed dowdiness of some of the rooms, replacing tired relics with new furnishings and high-tech amenities. Old World elegance still prevails, though: The bath linens are embroidered with the hotel’s monogram. Breakfast is served on gold-trimmed Limoges porcelain. And the discreet personalized service is legendary.
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The central location on glitzy Casino Square—now filled with designer boutiques—is always thrumming with activity and is only steps from the Garnier-designed Casino and Opéra. For prime people watching, you can sip pricey cocktails on the sunny terrace of the Café de Paris, then amble down to the ever-lively Buddha Bar, an ornate red and gold split-level lounge and restaurant where the local fashionistas and execs in suits nibble on elegant platters of sushi. A more casual option is Il Terrazzino, a family-style Italian trattoria hidden away on a side street just off the square, featuring homemade pasta dishes and Sicilian wines.
Need to Know
Rooms: 53 rooms and suites (limited inventory during renovation). From $1,260 for a junior suite. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: No one should leave the Principality without splurging on an unforgettable lunch or dinner at the Michelin three-star Louis XV-Alain Ducasse, housed in the gilded stucco Salle Empire. The menu—a plethora of delicate flavors with the finest seasonal products—is contemporary cuisine based on southern French and Ligurian peasant dishes. Highlights include the cookpot of baby vegetables, the sea bass, and a soft chocolate cake with cocoa-bean ice cream. A glamorous Old World atmosphere prevails at the hotel’s legendary Bar Américain, where VIPs often swing by for a nightcap. Spa and gym details: Guests have free access to the newly renovated multilevel Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo. The 7,000-square-meter seaside spa features a heated seawater pool, hammam, sundeck, sauna, high-tech cardio-training center, and elegant health food restaurant.
Who's it for: Luxury travelers with an affinity for ornate Belle Epoque architecture and who want to be in the center of the action. Our favorite rooms: With the renovations under way, one of the most coveted rooms to remain open is the junior suite Casino de Monte Carlo, decked out in cherry and walnut wood with a sweeping view of the Lamborghini and Ferrari–clogged Casino Square. High rollers may want to splash out for the sprawling 19th-century-style Garnier Suite, which has a salon and private terrace. Full-bodied reds: Sample some of France’s finest Bordeaux wines stocked in the Hôtel de Paris cellar, famed for its prestigious rare vintages from all over the world.