Sheer magic in Monaco
The Cote d’Azur conjures up visions of sun, sea, yachts and luxury; and I found this to be true during my visit to Monte-Carlo and the Hotel Hermitage.
The hotel is part of the Monte-Carlo’s Société des Bains de Mer (SBM), which operates four casinos, including the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo and three other hotels – Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, the Monte-Carlo Beach and the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort.
My trip was before Christmas but it was just as beautiful as summer –even with temperatures of 15 deg C – and this, coupled with the festive atmosphere, made my stay all the more magical.
I arrived early evening by a luxury limousine from Cannes. This service, provided by Elite Rent-A-Car, is free for VIPs but can be also requested for an additional fee. The driver was on time, polite, with very good English and the car, luxurious and immaculate. As it was rush hour, he drove me through the side streets, and dropped me off at another SBM property, where I was invited to an event, before taking my bags to the hotel – true luxury service.
On reaching the hotel, I was warmly welcomed and check-in formalities went seamlessly. As I had not eaten since breakfast, I headed straight for dinner and my room afterwards.
Dinner was at the Michelin-star Le Vistamar which offers indoor and outdoor seating with beautiful views over the harbour and the Palace. Chef Benoit heads the culinary team and although we opted for a light meal, it was amazing. This, pared with a fine white grape, made a great end to a wonderful evening.
The hotel’s other F&B offerings include the Crystal Bar and terrace, Le Limun lobby lounge and a wellness restaurant, L’Hirondelle, at the spa.
Hotel Hermitage, with 278 rooms and suites, has a history dating back to the early 20th century. It has gone through major renovations over the years and now has a new floor which hosts its showcase Diamond suites.
These 12 suites are distinguished by their large spaces, and offer stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea from all five wings of the hotel.
The Diamond penthouse suite is the largest at 361 sq m offering three bedrooms, three living rooms, three bathrooms, two dressing rooms, a playroom for children, and two terraces.
The Diamond presidential suite is slightly smaller at 204 sq m, with two bedrooms, one living room, one dressing room and two terraces. Both these suites and the Diamond duplex suite, with two bedrooms and one lounge, come with a Jacuzzi.
I was hosted in a 36-sq-m room with a sea view and terrace, fitted with a king bed, dressing and dining tables, a large LCD TV, mini fridge and safe. The marbled bathroom, with its separate shower and bath, was larger than some hotel rooms I have stayed in Europe!
After a wonderful night’s sleep in a bed that was so comfortable that I opted to stay in it rather than get up and go to the gym, I ventured out to the terrace, where the fabulous view and cool weather blew away my guilt and set the tone for the day.
No luxury hotel is complete without a spa and at Hotel Hermitage, the newly renovated Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo offers not only treatments in its 30 therapy rooms but also a fully equipped gym, a heated seawater pool with jets and a cold bath trail, Europe’s only cyrotherapy rooms (two), an outdoor Jacuzzi, solarium, Russian banya, sentorium, hammam for women and men and an ice fountain in addition to the wellness restaurant. Also included within the complex is a beauty salon, hair salon and boutique.
I spent a half day at Thermes Marins where I had a facial, a heathy lunch of salad and scallops on the outdoor terrace, followed by a customised body treatment.
Hotel Hermitage also offers a Very Important Kid (VIK) service with indoor and outdoor activities for children – alone or supervised – giving parents peace of mind and allowing them to relax.
To sum up, Hotel Hermitage delivers true luxury and magical experience – from the warm welcome to the expert therapists, attentive waiters and fabulous food – and along with its sister properties, definitely ranks as among the finest in the world.
By Kim Thomson