A glamorous, storied landmark since the 1920s, the low-slung terra-cotta Monte Carlo Beach Hotel, at Monaco's easternmost border with France, still evokes the glory days of Monte Carlo when glitterati and high-society notables were frequent guests. The superb, all-organic restaurant Elsa (named after Elsa Maxwell, the American columnist and "hostess with the mostest" who was instrumental in attracting the beau monde to the hotel) is just one reminder of the glamour. The rooms, now airy and bright after a massive makeover directed by designer India Mahdavi, are prettily decked out with contemporary furnishings and Mediterranean-inspired colors and stripes—turquoise, white, brick red, and beige—and motifs that evoke Matisse and Cocteau. There’s also a definite nautical vibe, from the porthole windows to the terraces with panoramic views. Another big draw—both then and now—is the Olympic-sized heated seawater pool, open to guests and Beach Club members who swan around on weekends with their children in tow. Families can also take full advantage of the waterfront children’s club during July and August.
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Located at the edge of the seacoast border of Monaco (technically Roquebrune, in France), this resort hotel is perhaps the most isolated, but it's minutes away from the Monte-Carlo Tennis Club up the hill and the Sporting d’Eté complex down the road. Other dining options within walking distance include the stylish Maya Bay, featuring superb Asian-fusion dishes—sushi, Thai-style blue lobster—set in a jungle-inspired dining room.
Need to Know
Rooms: 40 rooms, 14 suites. From $364. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Headed by Italian chef Paolo Sari, the Michelin-starred restaurant Elsa is unique, since its gastronomic all-organic menu is a winning mix of healthy and ultra-refined. Guests dine on exquisitely prepared combos of Mediterranean fish, fruit, and vegetables (plucked from the hotel’s own garden) or other locally sourced fresh ingredients from southern France or Liguria. On a patio overlooking the sea and pine forest is another elegant spot, La Vigie, specializing in Mediterranean-style seafood from rockfish to grilled lobster. Sun worshippers and families with children love the poolside Le Deck, which serves healthy light fare. One of the liveliest spots for on-the-beach cocktails and sunset gazing, the Sea Lounge is where the local sophisticates graze on finger food and sip Rosemary Bellinis and Mango Coladas to a throbbing electro beat. Spa and gym details: The spa includes three rooms for massages and beauty treatments with La Prairie and eco-certified Yamalia products. The Beach Club offers guests private canvas cabanas for lounging (even if the short pebbly beach here is not one of the highlights—the real draw is the heated seawater pool) as well as water sports from jet-skiing to wakeboarding.
Who's it for: Foodies; families, eco-minded and sports-minded luxury travelers looking to relax. Our favorite rooms: The pretty, ground-floor Exclusive Superior rooms have private covered loggia with sea views. For an extended stay, the curvy-walled, spacious junior suites on the upper floors above the pine forest offer a dazzling vista of the coast from the balcony. Instant wheels: Take advantage of the complimentary, snazzy, white electric bicycles, and go for a ride along the paved boardwalk of Larvotto Beach.