Travel: A weekend in Fairmont, Monte Carlo

MONACO for the weekend? Well, I suppose I could put off sorting out the filter on the tumble dryer until next week.

Monaco is a surprisingly accessible short break destination. A direct flight to nice and then a short transfer to the principality of monaco and monte carlo itself. Naturally, one could go by helicopter – but most people choose the quick and cheap bus service.

The skyscrapers clinging to the rock huddled around the harbour is an immediately familiar sight. Almost everyone feels that they know this town, even if they’ve never set foot here.

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Budget or boutique?

Truth be told, i don’t think that budget is a word with which anyone in monaco is terribly au fait. Fairmont is part of a worldwide hotel chain and it’s obvious that this is a well-drilled operation. There isn’t all that much that is compellingly unique – but it is all very smoothly done and nothing is too much trouble.

Room service

Our room had a fabulous terrace overlooking the med. But even with such spectacular views, these aren’t the most sought-after rooms. Those are the ones that overlook a busy road. Confused? Not when you remember that this is monaco and that the fairmont is situated right on the world famous hairpin bend of the grand prix circuit. Even outwith race season, the red and white track markings are still there for everyone to have their pictures taken next to. If you’re not one of the lucky ones with a balcony overlooking the circuit, you can still get a bird’s eye view of the track from nikki beach, situated on the top of the hotel.

Wining and dining

The jewel in the fairmont crown is nobu restaurant. Initially begun as a pop-up of the world famous restaurant, it is now the home of the founder, nobuyuki “nobu” matsuhisa. Offering everything from his signature black cod to roasted coquelet, there is a multicourse menu option from ¤95 per person. However, if you fancy just a taste of what the restaurant has to offer, their seven2nine offer lets you 
have a selection of nobu bites along with a glass of champagne for ¤18 each. For the summer months, executive chef philippe joannès has created a menu specifically for the horizon deck which gives breathtaking views across the mediterranean, allowing you to gaze over three countries while you eat. Just a few feet away, the complementary summer pop-up is nikki beach. It’s a little outpost of the luxury beach club which attracts the best djs as well as the most beautiful of the beautiful people. Naturally, there is also a 24-hour bistro and lounge bar as well as comprehensive room service.

Worth getting out of bed for

It is monaco, baby. If you’ve got the cash, then you can shop until you drop – or your flunkies – drop. However, there’s still plenty to do if you don’t want to burn a hole in your overdraft. Grabbing a drink during happy hour down at one of the bars at rascasse lets you spend some unabashed gawking time at the amazing yachts in the harbour. If you fancy a quick trip to france, then a short walk up the hill will take you to the village of beausoleil. Alternatively, you can catch the train along the cote d’azur or into ventimiglia in italy.

Little extras

People with lots of money tend to get exactly what they want, when they want it. Given that the fairmont is used to dealing with that clientele, that’s how they treat each and every one of their guests. Nothing is too much trouble. It was raining when we were checking out – and we were both given umbrellas, so we wouldn’t get wet on our walk to the airport bus.

Guest book comments

Monte carlo is a place for wealthy people, but it’s not all about how much money you have. Just as nothing impresses them (when the driveway is packed with ferraris and lamborghinis, they’re really not going to be blown away by a bentley) nothing fazes them either. Everyone gets the same excellent treatment and no-one is looked down upon. After all, just because you know that your wallet isn’t bulging doesn’t mean that they do.

• Prices start at £299 per night. Fairmont monte carlo, 12 avenue des spélugues, 98000 monaco ( tel: 377 93 50 65 00, [email protected])