Welcome to MarieClaire.com's new series on weekend travel—a smart girl's guide to making the most of those glorious two days off.
If you're anything like me, when you hear "Monaco" you immediately think of cruises in classic cars, a fancy casino, and—obviously—Grace Kelly. So when I got the chance to visit the super-small country, I jumped at it. I envisioned myself drinking Champagne, overlooking the water, lounging on yachts...and I wasn't entirely wrong. But the best part? Where I stayed. Here, a guide of sorts to hosting your own Monte Carlo adventure—which can *totally* be done in two days (pending travel time).
Where to Stay
The Hôtel Métropole, a 5-star hotel, is located in the heart of Monte Carlo, and is one of the elite Palace Grand Hotels in the area. When I arrived, it was hinted that a certain number of celebrities like to stay there—but, with a respect for the clientele, they wouldn't *specifically* name names. (Because I'm trained in sleuthing I *can* say two of the names rhyme with fiancé and wieber.) Because Monaco is *so* tiny—literally can't emphasize this enough, it's .75 square miles AKA around the size of Central Park in New York—many of the hotels in the area entertain guests, tourists, and residents alike, and The Hôtel Métropole is no different. Many in the area come to frequent the lounge for meetings, a light lunch, and/or a café. The light fills the space, and you can relax reading the newspaper or, um, scrolling Instagram (guilty).
What to Do
If you're in town during the Grand Prix or the Monaco Yacht Show, they're kind of must-dos if you can swing 'em. Other than that? Check out the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation for a tour and some art and memorabilia from the artist, as well as the private collection of antique cars of H.S.H. Prince Rainier III. You can stroll the Monte Carlo Harbor, and if it's warm out make sure to stop by Larvotto Beach (where you can get snacks and a drink at La Note Bleue). Book a tour of the Casino de Monte-Carlo with Fatoumata Froissart Diallo, where you can learn about the history of the landmark, the royal family, and all the interesting tidbits of information you wouldn't typically pick up in a guidebook. (It's seriously so fascinating!) P.S. Did you know citizens are not allowed to gamble—let alone enter the gaming rooms—at the casino? It's true.
"Did you know citizens are not allowed to gamble—let alone enter the gaming rooms—at the casino? It's true."
Where to Eat
The Hôtel Métropole features three great eateries—the Odyssey (located outside by the pool), Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo, and the first Joël Robuchon Japanese restaurant in the world, Yoshi. Yoshi was by far my favorite, with a pink and green decor and a Japanese garden and insanely good food.
You can also head to Café de Paris, where the first ever Crepe Suzette was made. (Note: You can only order it in the evening/summer—so make sure to ask!). Il Terrazzino, Le Vistamar, and Saphir 24 are all great places to grab dinner or lunch. Ready for a drink? Head to Buddha Bar or, obviously, Casino de Monte-Carlo. (BTW, there are other casinos—but the Casino de Monte-Carlo is *the* casino.) Jimmy'z is the most iconic club—and is pretty exclusive.
1. The hotel has a package featuring helicopter transfers to and from Nice Airport, which will save you both time and money. (Seriously—don't even bother with a car/taxi. It's about the same price, and takes 7 minutes as opposed to over an hour, or longer!)
2. A new spa is heading the way of The Hôtel Métropole—a *Givenchy* spa. Get ready for some luxurious treatments and a whole new look. Massages, facials, and steam rooms are all a part of the spa.
3. While you'll see some women clamoring around in heels, flats and wedges are recommended—there are a lot of random staircases and uneven ground, as well as cobblestones.