Six of the best: Monaco indulgences

HOTEL HERMITAGE

Look no further for your chance to stay in a historic monument that has been at the heart of Monaco tourism since the early days of the principality's resurgence. The Belle-Epoque decor is sumptuous, culminating in the Eiffel-designed conservatory dome of the Winter Garden, beneath which guests partake of breakfast bathed in stained-glass light. Even the hotel's corridors, mosaic-covered and studded with porcelain vases, are stunning. Harbour-side rooms have views over most of waterfront Monaco; if you aren't staying, have lunch at Le Vistamar restaurant or an evening drink at the Crystal Bar for similar outlooks. See hotelhermitagemontecarlo.com

RESTAURANT JOEL ROBUCHON

This restaurant's terrace has views over the sea, but prop yourself at the chef's table for an even more exclusive view into the open kitchen of this Michelin-star restaurant for a fascinating look at chefs and sous-chefs in action as they prepare your French haute cuisine nibbles. The composed salads are pretty with flower petals, foie gras and caviar are lavishly used and the lobster ravioli is to die for – perhaps from a heart attack when you get your bill. Even the bread cart and cheese trolley are superb, and dessert choices take you straight to the French nirvana. See metropole.com

THERMES MARINS SPA

The sleek, light-flooded wellness centre in marble and glass is perched on a clifftop just below the casino, and overlooking Monaco's main harbour where luxury cruise ships dock and mega-yachts gleam. Don't be surprised to spot tennis stars and minor European royals pounding the treadmills. You could wallow in here all day, gliding from solarium to hammam to saltwater swimming pool beneath a vast shell-like roof. Lunch at L'Hirondelle restaurant provides healthy sustenance for an afternoon of seaweed wraps and caviar scrubs. The bold can tackle three minutes in the cryotherapy chamber at minus 110 degrees. See thermesmarinsmontecarlo.com

OPERA DE MONTE-CARLO

The Salle Garnier attached to Monte-Carlo's legendary casino was engineered by Gustave Eiffel and designed by architect Charles Garnier, also responsible for the opera house in Paris, and was inaugurated in 1879 with a performance by Sarah Bernhardt, signalling the principality's audacious cultural ambitions. Though today only a minor opera house, it puts on five or six operas each season and still attracts big names; it also hosts jazz and international music artists. The setting is spectacularly ornate, with the Salle Garnier draped in red velvet curtains, gold leaf and frescoes of prancing nymphs. See opera.mc

MONTE-CARLO BEACH CLUB

Though technically a sashay across the border into France, this glamorous beach club has been an essential part of Monaco's social life since the 1920s and retains much of its Art Deco style and all of its superb waterfront location. If you really want to make an arrival, step onto the jetty from a private yacht before reclining on a sunlounge by one of the striped cabanas under the scented umbrella pines. The day's most strenuous activities might be a flop into the Olympic-sized swimming pool or treatment at the spa, though you can also parasail and jet ski. See monte-carlo-beach.com

CASTELROC

Despite its location on the city walls across the square from the princely palace, this lovely restaurant is strangely overlooked – except, of course, by the Monegasques themselves, who've been eating here since the 1950s. Laid-back, unpretentious and family-run, Castelroc also appeals for focusing on traditional Monaco cuisine such as barbajiuan (pasta stuffed with spinach and ricotta), local octopus in wine, and richly scented cod stew. Bag a seat under a terrace parasol and enjoy glimpses of Mediterranean blue in the yacht-filled harbour below, and don't be too surprised if you find yourself in the company of princes or motor-racing drivers. See castelrocmonaco.com

The writer travelled courtesy Visit Monaco and Silversea Cruises.

Listen: Flight of Fancy - the Traveller.com.au podcast with Ben Groundwater

To subscribe to the Traveller.com.au podcast Flight of Fancy on iTunes, click here.

Comments