The gal would say that all luxury hotels of a certain size need a choice of dining venues, but there are exceptions. Lime Wood, in England’s New Forest, has, for instance, combined its two former adjacent venues into one. In the main, however, consumers need choice, and they certainly have it at Fairmont Monte-Carlo, where the owner, Ian Livingstone, and the hotel GM, Xavier Rugeroni, decided to bring in Nobu. It opened January 2014, dinner only, and it is a fantastic success. Every dish, like this scallop salad, looked more enticing than the last.
There is a prominent open kitchen along one side of the big space, which is partly curtained off with semi-transparent gauze to give a feeling of privacy, if wanted, to some tables. Martin Hulbert, the designer of the whole, has also put a giant blue-lit bar by the entrance, with a counter around so you can sip your Bellini or gin and tonic – Hendrick’s, of course – and show your six-foot legs, or admire others’. Some of the 22 permanent staff here worked pre-Nobu and have brilliantly evolved into the more-relaxed service that is Nobu (before it was Monte-Carlo-vertical, so to speak). At peak times, say the Grand Prix and the Yacht Festival, other servers are brought in to cope.
The blue hue of the Nobu bar in fact complements the colouring of Saphir, the adjacent 24/7 eater- and drinker-tainment venue. This is part sports bar, part coffee stall, part afternoon tea, full meals or getting ready to go to the casino which leads off the main lobby. I had breakfast here, looking out at the Mediterranean through all glass walls. I really thought I was back at sea, on another cruise ship…. One thing you can be sure of in Monte-Carlo, or indeed the entire Principality of Monaco, is quality of food. The croissants were outstanding. You can also be sure here that gyms will be good, and full.
This is a place for the super-fit. There are sports stars galore, living here for tax reasons (I do wish they were all compelled by law to wear name labels!), but everyone wants to keep in shape. Look at the six-sided layout of this 616-room luxury hotel. You could simply run round and round the corridors. I preferred to head up to the top, sixth, floor’s gym – it was too cold for the outdoor pool – and, after working out, go from there across a bridge that leads straight to the great Casino, and thence to the city proper. Keep fit, stay in Monte-Carlo.