Relaxation by design: A stylish stay at Hôtel Metropole Monte-Carlo
From art by Karl Lagerfeld to a spa by Givenchy, Monaco’s Hôtel Metropole’s style credentials are off the charts
Few destinations epitomise style and glamour quite like Monaco. The principality – just a short drive from Nice, St Tropez, and Cannes – is home to some of the most prestigious events on the luxury calendar. Whether the jet set is flying in to watch Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel burn rubber at the Monaco Grand Prix, sailing into Port Hercules for the renowned Monaco Yacht Show – returning 26-29 September – or simply swinging by the iconic Casino de Monte-Carlo, there’s always a buzz in the air. In the heart of Carré d’Or, close to the famed casino, is Hôtel Metropole Monte-Carlo.
An enduring blend of cutting-edge design and French Belle Époque architecture, it has occupied Monaco’s most stylish spot since 1889. Although its last major restoration – helmed by acclaimed hotel designer Jacques Garcia – dates back to 2004, more recent collaborations with fashion’s biggest names, including Givenchy and Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld have undoubtedly set Hôtel Metropole apart from its five-star counterparts – no easy feat in compact Monte Carlo.
The minute I arrive through the courtyard entryway lined with immaculately preened foliage, I am blown away. The huge Belle Époque-style building with scrolled balconies and French Renaissance style sculptures creates a stunning first impression. Come nightfall, the property is even more impressive, thanks to a magnificent light display highlighting the opulent grounds and fountain.
Each of the hotel’s 126 rooms – which range from standard size to grand signature suites – boast traditional French accents with a contemporary flair. Mine, a grand junior suite on the second floor, featured a large Carrara marble bathroom with fragrant Hermès toiletries, while my balcony offered unrivalled views of the courtyard below, as well as the nearby harbour. A rest on the golden chaise longue was the perfect start to my Monte-Carlo stay.
The hotel’s dedication to haute couture and design doesn’t stop at the rooms. The Spa Métropole by Givenchy, designed by the Italian fashion house it’s named after, embodies the chic minimalism that the maison is known for. One of only three Givenchy spas in the world, its sleek marble décor and bold lighting create an oasis of calm unlike any spa I have visited before. Guests can enjoy access to a fitness studio, traditional Hammam shower and manicure studio by Bastien Gonzalez, as well as 10 treatment rooms. I tried the Le Soin Noir Signature Facial Treatment, which provided 90 minutes of indulgent, restorative therapy that left my face feeling softer than it has in years.
With my skin buffed to perfection, it was time to treat my senses to further stylish delight, this time of the culinary kind. Enter: Odyssey, a restaurant and bar designed by Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld. The fashion icon is famed for reinventing luxury labels including Fendi and Chloé, and his trademark style is as effective here as it is on the catwalk. A 65ft glass installation featuring photographs of black-and-white toga-clad models, shot by Lagerfeld himself, bring to life his own vision of Ulysses’s journey. Guests can take in the artwork while lounging in the private cabanas that line the sapphire sea-water pool.
The hotel is just as stylish in its fine dining credentials, thanks to the visionary menus of the late ‘chef of the century’ Joël Robuchon. The 31-Michelin starred chef ’s restaurant is the epitome of his famed communal fine dining experience and as I take a seat at Restaurant Joël Robuchon’s top table, adjoined to the open kitchen, the proof of his skill is in the tasting – the John Dory fish fillet is delicious, and ‘le pop fraise’, a fluffy strawberry cheesecake, even more so. Robuchon also directed the gastronomic delights of Odyssey as well as the lobby bar and Japanese restaurant Yoshi, and the hotel insists it has no plans to replace Restaurant Joël Robuchon, despite the great chef ’s death in August.
From this compelling peek into the usually out-of-sight culinary process to collaborations with the biggest names in style, it’s clear that Hôtel Metropole’s partnerships are – as the hotel itself is to Monte Carlo – proof positive of the ever-evolving glamour of Europe’s most unashamedly glitzy destination.