How to spend the perfect weekend at Monaco’s iconic Hotel de Paris
The historic Hotel de Paris recently completed a €270 million (S$416 million) renovation that took over four years in order to avoid shutting its doors on guests. Here’s what to expect when you visit.
Founded in 1864, Hotel de Paris was conceived by French entrepreneur Francois Blanc, who envisioned a luxury playground for the rich and famous. Indeed, the property over the years has seen celebrities and luminaries like Winston Churchill, Cary Grant, Lady Gaga and Julia Roberts pass through its revolving doors.
But the grand dame had started to show its age since its last renovation in 1909, so architects Richard Martinet and Gabriel Viora were charged with modernising the landmark building, whilst preserving its original Belle Epoque charm.
With an average of 300 days of sunshine yearly, particular attention was paid to enhancing natural light throughout the hotel. A 671-sqm courtyard patio was added to the heart of the building, infusing the sumptuous lobby with light. All 207 rooms – 60 per cent of them suites – are now fitted with balconies, allowing daylight to suffuse the elegant interiors of alabaster walls, precious wood and marble.
Two new luxury suites were added – Suite Princess Grace, inaugurated by Prince Albert II and Princess Stephanie, is the most exclusive; and Suite Prince Rainier III, the largest at 830 sqm. Priced at €40,000 and €45,000 a night respectively, the two Diamond Suites each have a distinct charm, displaying artwork, souvenirs and favourite books from the royals.
Suite Princess Grace, situated on the Rotunda Wing with a 180-degree sea-view, is a duplex with its own private heated infinity pool and jacuzzi. Well-heeled guests looking to splash out a little more would appreciate the Prince Rainier III suite, with views of both the Mediterranean sea as well as the glitzy Place du Casino, which houses British artist Anish Kapoor's Sky Mirror sculpture. Thoughtful amenities include butler service, an in-suite Rossano Ferretti hairstylist and exclusive service from Michelin-starred restaurant Le Grill.
And the hotel is not short of gastronomic stars. Alain Ducasse has not one, but two restaurants, including the legendary three Michelin-starred Le Louis XV, the first ever hotel restaurant to ever receive that certification.
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The famed restaurant returns to its original place in the hotel post-renovation – the newly restored Salle Empire, replete with golden decorations and art frescoes. Head Chef Dominique Lory serves up a modern yet classic menu that celebrates locally sourced seafood and greens from the hinterland. On balmy summer nights, the chilled melon broth with lemongrass and blue lobster is a revelatory experience.
Ducasse's other restaurant, the newly opened Omer, sits on the garden level of the Rotunda Wing, overlooking lush greenery designed by famed gardener Jean Mus. The restaurant's boat-inspired inner area is created by French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon. Chef Patrick Laine presents a more classically Mediterranean menu, with inspirations and flavours from Greece, Lebanon, Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia, with a wide assortment of mezzes and recipes from famous Greek chef Dina Nikolaou. Breakfast is also served here, a charming if classically continental affair in the garden on pleasant days.
Le Grill, headed by Ducasse stalwart Franck Cerutti, has the best view of the three, situated on the eight floor with a roof that opens entirely in good weather, and a stunning panoramic view of Monaco's postcard-worthy coastline.
Dinner here is languid and multi-sensory; you savour the sunset as much as the beautifully wood-grilled seafood and meats, which are expertly deboned and served to you right at your table. A recommended set menu includes gilt-head seabream ceviche with Metron citrus, gamberoni and trumpet zucchini on saffron risotto and farm-bred chicken with hillside herbs. The restaurant's signature dessert, the souffle, is exquisitely done and has been on the menu since its opening; no dinner at Le Grill is really complete without a classic Grand Marnier one. A note: Let's just say that the hand that pours the liqueur is fairly, uh, liberal. This writer is more inclined to order the gentler Rum Baba from Le Louis XVI instead.
All guests have complementary access to the 6,600-sqm Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, a spa and wellness facility housing a heated seawater pool, an outdoor jacuzzi, solarium, hammam, sauna & panoramic fitness room. Led by a team of multidisciplinary experts including therapists, a doctor, a nutritionist, and health and sports trainers, it has partnered brands like La Prairie and Cellcosmet to offer facials, spa treatments and even medical examinations and tests.
Relax with a light, post-massage lunch at L'Hirondelle, where French chef Jean-Laurent Basile proposes a wellness-focused, healthy menu without sacrificing gourmet flavours. Developed together with in-house nutritionist Veronique Liesse, the lunch-only restaurant is a proponent of sustainable fishing and offers health-minded guests gluten-free, pescetarian, vegetarian, as well as meat options.
What's a trip to Monaco without a decadent day at the shops? The hotel's courtyard patio is flanked on one side by jewellers and timepiece makers like Harry Winston and Graff. Meanwhile, a short walk leads you immediately to the some of the best fashion houses in the world at One Monte-Carlo.
An ambitious project by hotel owners Monte-Carlo Societe des Bains de Mer (SBM), the urban space is meant to impart an all-encompassing luxury experience, with a residential building housing 37 apartments, as well as 24 luxury boutiques with 7.5m-high curved glass windows. They include Cartier, Chanel and a triplex Louis Vuitton.
The sustainability-focused space is fully pedestrianised; landscape architect Jean Mus populated the district with native and exotic plants, increasing public green spaces by 30 per cent.
Wrap up the day with a nightcap at the jazzy Le Bar Americain. Swathed in dark woods and rich leather, the 1920s style bar is known for its live music and signature cocktails and has attracted high-profile musicians like Bono to perform there.
Try La Roseraie, a refreshing concoction of rose vodka, homemade rhubarb syrup, cranberry juice, lemon juice and champagne. Or Condamine, a cocktail made with the uniquely Monegasque Liqueur L'Orangerie. Pro tip: If you ask nicely, Chef Franck Cerruti might whip up a batch of his pillowy barbajuans, a fritter stuffed with spinach and ricotta, for you. His is by far the best iteration of the traditional Monegasque snack this writer has tasted, delicate but flavoursome, a perfect accompaniment to the locally brewed Monaco Biere.