View from the Fairmont Monte Carlo, Monte Carlo, Monaco

Fairmont Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo, Monaco


If you think all Monegasque hospitality has to offer is palatial pomp and Belle Époque architecture, think again: from its more modern setting to an internationally minded take on luxury hospitality, the Fairmont Monte Carlo seeks to strike a different tone in the Principality.

We can’t think of many hotels that any Formula 1 fan would have some sort of awareness of, even if they’d never set foot in them, or visited the countries said hotels are in. In fact, we can only think of one – the Fairmont Monte Carlo. Its fame within the F1 community comes down to the simple fact that its main entrance (as well as a number of rooms on this side of the building) overlooks the Hairpin curve, the infamous sixth turn of the annual Monaco Grand Prix, which is so spectacularly tight, it forces the world’s fastest cars to slow down to the speed of your average Manhattanite pushing a baby buggy down Fifth Avenue.

It’s not the only thing special about the property’s location. Built in 1975 and acquired by Fairmont in 2004, the hotel occupies the former site of the micro-state’s historical railway station, encompassing a vast 60,000 sqm/646,000 sqft across seven floors and a whopping 596 rooms, suites and residences. Upon entering, our eyes were immediately drawn towards the very end of the large open space adjacent to the hotel’s lobby, where panoramic views of the sea immerse guests into this iconic Riviera destination. Along the way to the sea-facing glass facades, we walked past attention-grabbing displays of large-scale contemporary artworks interspersed with high-end fashion retailers, a realtor’s office as well as, somewhat curiously, a tourist shop and a private sample sale of designer clothing, which made this part of the Fairmont Monte Carlo feel a bit like a messy mall.

Our 35 sqm/377 sqft Signature Sea View Room, in contrast, conveyed a sense of calm and comfort with stylish lampshades, an enormous, champagne-coloured headboard featuring Art Deco-inspired mirrors, and a geometry-print carpet pattern. Though not huge, our lodgings certainly came with a few nice-to-haves, from a small lounging area to beautiful artworks alluding to Monegasque heritage, a sleek bathroom with a generous walk-in shower and Aesop amenities in refillable, eco-friendly dispensers, as well as pralines and a gilded, racing-car-shaped chocolate bar as a welcome (though, we’d imagine these were a special treat, since we arrived just in time for the Grand Prix!).

We also enjoyed having our very own, private balcony overlooking the glistening Mediterranean Sea, which was made even easier to savour thanks to a small outdoor seating area and a sun lounger. The views are expectedly lovely, although with Monaco actively growing into the sea and a major development springing up diagonally across from the Fairmont Monte Carlo, let’s just say you might not have to reach for your shades when staying here. You can’t blame the hotel for the building works, of course, but we’d be lying if we said they didn’t interfere with our stay, not least because there seemed to be some sort of construction going on everywhere we looked, from the property’s ground-floor all the way up to its rooftop.

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While you’re Out There
Though technically speaking not exactly in the neighbourhood (and, as a matter of fact, not even in the country), the mountaintop village of Èze just west of Monaco on the French Riviera ranks among the prettiest little spots along this part of the coastline. It’s easy to get to from the micro-state, with some travellers even just visiting for a lazy lunch amidst Èze’s historical buildings, although we went here on a day trip that included a hike along the Nietzsche Path and some R&R by the beach at the foot of the mountain. Ah, c’est la vie indeed!

In an effort to escape the noise, we headed up to the latter, only to realise the rooftop pool is part of Nikki Beach Monte Carlo, where loud music put yet another spoke in our wheel. Worse, however, was that just as we’d made ourselves comfortable on a poolside lounger, a staff member asked us to move, as any loungers near the pool were reserved for bottle service (and, you might add, the Nikki Beach-going crowd who order said bottles as mere Insta-props). To think that even a guest staying in a top suite at a luxury hotel in Monaco wouldn’t have access to a poolside lounger unless they were happy to drop cash on a bottle of champagne or similar, frankly doesn’t feel right to us. Disgruntled, we were pointed towards loungers further towards the back (and within hearing range of the nearby construction site), where moments after sitting down, we were thoroughly engulfed in cigarette smoke by the many other guests around us – meanwhile, the pool area remained all but deserted.

In all fairness, the Fairmont Monte Carlo has opened the family-friendly ‘Azure’ rooftop pool as an alternative option since, but as this wasn’t around just yet at the time of our stay, we instead made for the property’s spacious and bright gym, featuring the latest Technogym equipment. There’s also the 900 sqm/9,690 sqft Spa Vallée, with its eight treatment rooms, though we didn’t get to try this. The wellness element of our stay instead came down to a quick trip to the sauna and the steam room, both of which are set within the gym’s changing room facilities. If you’re looking for a fully-fledged, deep relaxation experience, this isn’t it – at the time of our visit, the temperature element of the steam room ‘wasn’t really working’, according to staff, and the sauna was so small, we had to queue to get in, and then felt conscious not to occupy it for too long. That said, if you’re looking for a quick ‘shvitz’ post-workout, the facilities will certainly do the trick.

From a gastronomic viewpoint, the Fairmont Monte Carlo offers a range of options, from the aforementioned Nikki Beach Club to another famous chain, Nobu, as well as the Lobby Lounge and the Horizon Rooftop. We sadly didn’t have a chance to try any of the on-property eateries for lunch or dinner, although Horizon treats guests to a rather impressive breakfast buffet alongside divine views of the sea. We appreciated there being several plant-based options, from beans, mushrooms and potatoes to different types of vegan yogurts, and virtually any food item we laid our eyes upon came with some sort of food allergy labelling, meaning those with dietary requirements needn’t worry about double-checking with staff… if only every hotel in Monaco adhered to this standard!

This was one of the aspects about the property we really appreciated during our stay, and which were demonstrative of its belonging to a brand with a global portfolio, itself under the ownership of much-beloved hospitality giant Accor. You wouldn’t be wrong in saying that Fairmont has turned the hotel into perhaps the most enviable place to stay in Monaco for those not looking to bed down at the Principality’s historical hotels. With its unique honeycomb architecture and international outlook, the overall atmosphere here is decidedly more lifestyle-driven than what you might expect to find in a destination that thrives on tradition and heritage. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll find the entrance right across from the famous Hairpin curve – but you already knew that.

Photography by Jean Michel Sordello and courtesy of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

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