If you ever decide to visit Monte Carlo in Monaco, come well prepared. And we are not talking about passport, toothbrush and other obvious items. You have to be prepared money-wise. And we mean seriously well-heeled. Here is one example: breakfast at a cafe, including coffee, juice (sure, it was fresh) and croissant (not so fresh) for two persons can easily leave you 70 dollars shorter. If this doesn’t scare the h*ll out of you, go ahead and read how you can have an absolutely fabulous time in Monte Carlo.
1. Have a leisurely breakfast (until you see the bill) at Cafe de Paris. This is a trademark place for people-watching outside the casino. It is supposedly a venue where the rich and famous discuss the latest fashion trends and decide when and where to go for dinner but we call it tourist a trap.
2. Have a swim and enjoy the sunny weather at the Monte Carlo Beach. However, nothing is for free (at least not in Monte Carlo) and as the title suggests, we remind you to keep plenty of cash handy if you want refreshments, watermelon, wine and other goodies served to you. The entrance fee to the beach is 120 Euros. After a few laps in the sea, we suggest you venture off to the nearby restaurant La Vigie for a nice and relaxing buffet lunch while enjoying the view of the sea and the surrounding mountains from the terrace.
3. In the afternoon, visit the Monaco Oceanographic Museum, which, by the way, for 30 years was directed by explorer Jacques Cousteau. Enjoy the aquarium with some incredible species and take photos of the sharks (remember flash is not allowed). Sounds like only for kids? Then you should have seen us running around with big smiles on our faces (as if we just finished second grade).
4. Continue enjoying “Joix de vivre” (if you still have money left on your account) and have dinner at Louis XV – Alain Ducasse restaurant inside Hotel de Paris. A 3 star Michelin establishment that will make the most high maintenance celebrity speechless. A true delight (of course)!
5. Cap off the night by visiting the classic Monte Carlo Casino for some one-armed bandit antics, black jack or roulette. It is one of the best known casinos in the world, however, be warned. Don’t go here to try winning back all the money you spent on the beach, cafes and restaurants during the day. Decide your limit beforehand or just walk around and suck in the atmosphere. It may not look as romantic as you might have imagined (at least we didn’t see any James Bond or George Clooney look-a-likes dressed in tuxedos). The place is instead packed with tourists and the lights are on full blast. Not exactly cozy, but on the other hand, since when do high-rollers ask for cozy?
Bottom line, if you feel like partying with the rich and famous, in exchange for some serious money, don’t miss Monte Carlo – the place to see and be seen!
Where to lodge in Monte Carlo? Read our review: Hotel de Paris.
In the middle of an industrial zone 15 km from Thessaloniki (Greece), surrounded by weird construction monstrosities, there does exist an oasis of luxury and calm, of exquisite cuisine and impeccable service that propels you to another planet. It is the Thessaloniki Regency Hyatt Hotel*****.
In the past several years we stayed there at least a dozen times and were always impressed by the staff’s attention to every detail, up to remembering your name when you come back several months later.
The lobby is like from a James Bond movie with an ambience that would make even the most sophisticated aficionado of luxury feel at home. You can almost imagine Sean Connery having a cigar and sipping a Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred, at the bar (and if he is not there, try the casino). Now, it is not cheap, but to be honest not that expensive bearing in mind what you get for the price. Book a room on the ground floor since then you end up with a large patio rather than a small balcony if you stay upstairs.
The breakfast is to kill for and the local gentry come here to savor fantastic omelet, freshly baked bread, salmon, fruit and you name it. So make sure you wake up early, no matter how many drinks you downed with 007 the previous night. Then spend the entire day by the pool, next to a waterfall which is a piece of art.
Whatever is your indulgence, the Hyatt is here to please: tennis courts, gym, spa, cigar bar, hairdresser, we can go on forever. One thing though: there are better places to have dinner than the hotel restaurant. We recommend the food-bar in Daios Hotel or the Seven Seas Restaurant, both located downtown.
So, will we go back to the Thessaloniki Hyatt Hotel? Well, as you might have heard, we recently moved to the Sahara desert, but who knows, one can never say never again.