Hôtel de Paris is coming to the end of a 4.5-year renovation that has, well, been drastic, but the result is a luxury hotel that is even more sumptuous than before. What opened in 1864 as the 100-room hotel that put Monaco on the world map is now a 209-room luxury hotel that combines past with present. Architect-designer Richard Martinet has brilliantly created an inner courtyard, complete with palm trees – see a video below. The lobby, which seems to shine more than ever, now hosts a small reception desk (before, the gal remembers having to check in out of main sight, round the back – now that space is the double-door entrance to the courtyard). No wonder GM Ivan Artolli is beaming.
The eight-floor building has stylish upper corridors, in soft greys with hints of gold in the form of hanging art, metal standing lamps and chandeliers in elevator lobbies. Room 590, in the fan-shaped area of the hotel, was light and bright, and welcoming. I loved the collage of taupe leathers forming the bed headboard, and the Guerlain toiletries, and the view from my balcony across the Port Hercule to Quai Rainier III and up to the hill that houses the royal palaces. It was all extremely comfortable, and guest-centric. As if illustrating that a top hotel must be able to provide anything that a customer might want, I had what I thought was an insoluble challenge with my MacBook Air but, my goodness, Ivan Artolli sent up his top techie, who rejoices in the name of Luxmaan, and he did it, and with unbelievable patience.
Still to be finished are the hotel’s top floor Grill, and a brand-new gym with outdoor pool. For the time being, there is of course the celeb-favourite indoor pool in SBM’s massive Thermes de Marins wellness club, reached by a subterranean corridor from both L’Hermitage and Hôtel de Paris. I started my evening, with a charming Italian, Laura Ritzu, in the Bar Americaine, drinking a local Bandol rosé, Ch de Pibarnon 2017, and listening to a jolly jazz group. We moved on to O Mer, a new restaurant on the group floor (this is designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, who has cleverly put lots of mirrors on inner walls that divide the space into more discreet areas). Alain Ducasse, whose signature Louis XV was closed that night, here does Eastern Mediterranean, which to him means excellent mezze – any three dishes for a total of €21 – followed by, say, lamb schwarma served in a pita envelope, with a Romaine salad.
It is lovely to be back in Monte-Carlo for many reasons. The weather, even in February, is divine, and working out in the gym as the sun comes up is very special. The outstanding breakfast buffet that I remember from years past has gone, to be replaced by the Ducasse meal. As at the Plaza-Athenée in Paris, a curate’s stand is brought, holding slices of healthy real bread as well as croissants (soon, apparently, this luxury hotel will have its own bakery, serving all SBM hotels as well as its super-super residents, One Monte-Carlo). The €40 continental breakfast, O Mer style, generously includes a small smoothie, and a honey-topped orange-scented home-made yoghurt: add eggs for another six euros. As I had yet another cup of excellent coffee, Ivan Artolli shared his own enthusiasm for Monte-Carlo – he was at this luxury hotel a few years back, in fact. There is so much going on, with the Grand Prix and an annual yacht show, and art exhibitions and circus and opera, and now auctions… but I had to leave. AND NOW SEE THE NEW COURTYARD PATIO, AND A VIEW DOWN TO THE HARBOUR FROM ROOM 590